Just as Jesus sent his disciples on a mission “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2 NIV), Jesus sends us into our neighborhoods and workplaces as ministers of God’s healing power. As you mature in your capacity to receive and exercise the ministry of healing, you can consider your workplace again with fresh eyes. What would it be like to bless your coworkers and customers with the same power you’ve found in Christian community?
While there are many ways we could sketch out the purposes of God, I’ve found it can be helpful to talk about four aspects, or “corners” of mission: healing, justice, beauty, and evangelism. Like the nooks and crannies of a charming old house, each “corner” has its own features to explore, and together they make up a holistic picture of mission. We’ll look at each of these in depth in later posts, so for now we’ll look at how these themes all emerge in the ministry of Jesus himself.
There’s something about the way we imagine encountering God that, for many of us, causes us to put it in a separate category than our normal workday. But if we don’t imagine encountering God in our normal workday, it’s not because he isn’t there. If we can find God in the middle of our work, then our work—whatever it is—can become a place where we experience spiritual change and growth: a workshop of the soul.
If you want to counteract gossip at work, you have to cut against the grain of normal human behavior. Knowing exactly how to deal with gossip at work can flummox us.
The challenge of gossip is that it feels inevitable, but we also know it can be destructive. Those of us who are disciples of Jesus might also have in mind the warnings of Scripture about gossip. We’re tempted to think of gossip as a relatively benign vice, but it’s treated as a serious spiritual matter in the pages of the Bible.
When we use spiritual gifts in the workplace, it’s not because the gifts aren’t special. It’s not because “everything is spiritual” in some vague but inspiring way. It’s because Jesus’ death and resurrection has made our bodies the special, set-apart, holy place of God’s presence. The special and spiritual now travels with us into our everyday lives and work.
Sometimes, the things we dislike about our jobs are the very things that grow us the most. As the proverb goes, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Challenge and difficulty are what engage us and call forth our internal resources, stretching us beyond where we’ve been before. In spiritual terms, the person who is willing and able to embrace challenge and pain for the sake of doing what’s right is a courageous person. In a word, that’s how not to quit your job: find the courage you need at work.
Like all virtues, the joy of loving an imperfect job doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work to love your work. It’s easy to feel miserable about the challenges of work. Most people do. Energy and zest and a bright spirit are harder to come by. It takes some creativity to find the joy in the middle of the mundane. But if the result is loving your job, then the effort will pay off—not just for you, but for everyone around you.
We ask questions like, “How can I reduce stress at work?” Or even, “How can I eliminate stress at work?” But as Christians, stress at work can be a starting point for a spiritual journey that we don’t want to miss. It may seem counterintuitive to speak about stress in positive spiritual terms. Didn’t Jesus promise to give us peace and tell us not to be anxious? But a closer look at both Scripture and the science of stress can give us a different perspective. Often, the best way to conquer the enemy of stress is to make it your friend, embracing it as part of God’s design. If we let it, stress at work can sometimes even help bring us closer to Jesus.
God’s mission in the world includes the efforts of his people in every line of work. Even beyond Christians, God is concerned about the outcome of all work endeavors, for good or ill, because of their effect on the world he created and especially on the well-being of people, made in his image. That means God wants to provide wisdom, guidance, and encouragement for people as they plan their projects at work.
A genuine love for God always goes with a love for other people, ready to act in order to meet their needs. A genuine love for one another is also a deep, heartfelt love. These two features of love, readiness to act and heartfelt affection, each resonates with work or play. One of the main ways that we act to meet other people’s needs is through our work, while one of the main ways we express affection and connection is through play.