Work! For a lot of people there is the tension between viewing work as WHAT we do and not WHO we are. There is reason the tension exists. Work is an activity that we spend so much of our lives preparing for and eventually doing. The average time spent in education and training for most people is approximately 14 years. The average age for retirement is 60. Maths is not my strength but even I know that is ALOT of time.
My reflections on this topic are looking at work in the terms of an activity or area of life we engage in like relationships.I am therefore not going into the raging argument of the day; being employed or being an entrepreneur. In either forms, work is still being done!
My reflections in this post are geared more towards our attitude to work and how we interact with others in the course of carrying out our work .It is a reflection of a quote I stumbled on a few years ago(see below). It’s also been brought to fore by some of my personal experiences at work in the last couple of months. I am a Christian and so today’s post is very heavily tinted by my Christian worldview.
Christians often have a warped way of looking at work. Unless someone is working “in the ministry,” they see his work as secular. However, this view of work distorts the biblical picture. All of us — not only full-time ministers — have gifts and talents that we contribute to humanity. We all have a vocation, a “calling” into service. Wherever we work, whatever we do, we are to do “unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Jesus used parables about work to teach us how to grow spiritually. These parables deal with money, with completing tasks, with faithful stewardship of a job, and with honest emotional dealings in work. They all teach character development in the context of relating to God and others. They teach a work ethic based on love under God.Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
For a lot of people of faith,the secular and sacred are often on separate spectrums. Oyindamola in church on Sunday is different from Oyindamola in accounts on Wednesday. What the quote above tells me though is that the way and manner in which I carry out my work can be a reflection of my character and spiritual development.
Below are a few questions that I think we can all ponder on regarding how we view work especially if you are a person of faith?
Are my values reflected in my work ethic?
Does my character in the workplace reflect the fruit of the spirit( if you are a Christian )Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Do I show up and see myself as a Christian who works or as a Christian in the workplace? The Christian who works is someone who is a Christian that works. A Christian in the workplace is a Christian everywhere which includes the workplace.
Do I feel that work is just what I do and not an area where I need to live out my faith?
Work is a spiritual activity. In our work, we are made in the image of God, who is Himself a worker, a manager, a creator, a developer, a steward, and a healer. To be a Christian is to be a co-laborer with God in the community of humanity. By giving to others we find true fulfillment. The New Testament teaches that jobs offer more than temporal fulfillment and rewards on earth. Work is the place to develop our character in preparation for the work that we will do forever.Boundaries’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
The quote above tells us that the God that we serve is a role model for how we should approach work.Our work is a way for us to contribute to Gods work on earth. I know work is not the place that we most associate with character development. However I think work is the prime playing field to live out our faith.
The scenarios below are some that we encounter in the course of carrying out our work;
That annoying colleague that you just hope will disappear for good -The perfect opportunity to display Love & kindness
The chance to coast and do the bare minimum even when no one will notice – the perfect opportunity to display faithfulness and forbearance
That email that you would love to respond to with the caustic and sarcastic message(that is absolutely well deserved)- The perfect opportunity to display self control and gentleness
That urge to hold back on that idea or solution to a problem for personal gain or self aggrandisement –The perfect opportunity to display goodness
The urge to want to show that you are right with an ‘I told you so’ as something goes on wrong on a project as you rightly predicted (me a lot of times LOL)- The perfect opportunity to display peace and love
We spend such a huge part of our lives at work which means that it makes no sense to separate our values and our work. I believe the ‘sacred and secular’ dichotomy is one that is harmful to our witness as believers. Most of us will not work in ‘full-time ministry’ but our work can be a way for us to minister to the world around us.
The same can be said of you today, believer. Your workbench is an altar. Your desk is a cathedral. Use it to worship today—to “do good to all people” you come in contact with at work, and in doing so, glorify our great God. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)Jordan Raynor, Author of Called to Create & Host of The Call to Mastery Podcast
The quote above was one that really stood out to me from Jordan Raynor’s weekly Newsletter- The Word before Work. He is an author that has written extensively on the topic of faith and work and so if you liked this article you would definitely enjoy the newsletter. He also has a podcast called,The Call to mastery where he interviews Christians on how they live out their faith in the workplace.
The quote really resonated with me as I was going through a transitional and tumultuous period in my working life. It reminded me me that my work is definitely not WHO I am. So whatever happens in the workplace is not an indicator of my worth as an individual .However my work can be used as a medium to worship God regardless of the circumstances all around me.
As we go into another working week and day,I hope this also encourages you to see your work,vocation,industry etc as an arena to display and live up to the values that you profess.
As usual thank you so much for reading and wish you a blessed week ahead.