Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For many of us, our identity is very much tied to our job/position/career/or maybe even lack thereof! God has blessed work, and has given it to us as a GIFT! We see this in Genesis 1:28 when “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God gives Adam and Eve (and us by extension) the instructions to be fruitful, and to responsibly care for all of creation! That is our work! Our jobs may not seem to be as directly linked to creation as Adam’s was, but that is still what we are called to do. This may mean working for a paper mill that helps to provide materials necessary for learning, or for helping to distribute a necessary product. This may mean being a stay-at-home mom teaching our children how to be conscientious adults. Maybe it’s caring for the finances of a larger organization, keeping things running smoothly so that that organization can accomplish its larger purpose. Maybe it’s volunteering!
It’s easy for this gift of work to morph into a chore, or a hindrance, though. There are times when we fail to respect God’s rhythm of rest and work. There are times when our identity rests only in our job or title, rather than being God’s beloved child. There are times when we neglect relationships in our lives because of work. There are times when we do not value the work that we have, and do not give it our best effort. Take a moment to think about which of these traps you are most likely to fall into. Maybe one of these pitfalls leads to another in your life?
Consider this quote from Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller:
“Work is as much a basic human need as good, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul. Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness. People who are cut off from work because of physical or other reasons quickly discover how much they need work to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”
What do you think of this? Do you agree? Disagree? Something in between? I tend to agree, but I will add this: The work that is referenced here doesn’t need to have a fancy title or even a paycheck! There are all sorts of different things that God calls us to that have incredible value! As you continue reading, I’d like you to think of one specific area of your life where God has called you to some sort of work or another. It may be your paid position, it may be as a parent or grandparent, or maybe as a volunteer.
- How can you set a Christian example in your workplace? (I don’t mean shouting Bible verses at people, or loudly and proudly proclaiming that you’re praying for a co-worker… Maybe you can set the example of generosity, or humility, or compassion?)
- What would you say the shared purpose of your workplace is? Not just what YOU do, but the mission of the company/organization as a whole?
- What is there at your workplace that you have to teach someone else to do?
- How do you handle correction/challenge in your workplace?
- Who is it in your workplace that could use some encouragement and why? How might you do that? (That second question is the important one, if you don’t think of something specific now, you probably won’t do it!)
Before you keep reading, go back through those questions, think about how these responses reflect your position, as well as how they reflect you. Are you starting to see where God may have called you here for a reason?
Through the KINDLE program that I have been in, I have had the opportunity to explore a very helpful framework for looking at how God has called each and every one of us to have influence where we are, and how God uses that influence to point people to Him when we follow Christ’s example of service and compassion. There are some areas of leadership that others may not see: How we care for our own health and spiritual growth. There are other areas that are a bit more obvious: How we interact with individuals or groups. When we look at how we interact with individuals (co-workers, perhaps?), there are a few practices that will help us to be those Christ-Like Servant Leaders that God calls us to be! 1) Set the Example, 2) Voice the Vision 3), Equip to Multiply (teaching and coaching those around us), 4) Spur One Another (Challenge each other to grow), 5) Encourage One Another (Celebrating growth and achievements). If I had lead with these phrases, I bet some of us would have immediately assumed that we don’t have the skills or training to be able to pull them off, but I invite you to go back to those questions you answered about your work. See the correlation? See how God has already called and equipped you in those ways? Please take a moment to lift up a quick prayer thanking God for the work He has given you and asking for the strength and courage to continue to use every opportunity to point others to Him. You don’t even have to memorize the entire Bible to do it! 😉
If you’re interested in digging into these concepts a little deeper, please do not hesitate to reach out to me as I’d love to connect you to a small group study, or another group discussion/learning opportunity!
Your Sister in Christ,
Tara Barrett, DCE