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.
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.
It is the joy of Jesus himself that we enter into as we abide in his love. This is the work of the Spirit. It is not a joy that we manufacture; it is a joy that we receive. And, just like Jesus, we enter into it through laying everything down at God’s feet. We die with Christ, and we share in his resurrection life.
There might not be a clear moment of crisis when we shifted from one kind of life to another. But we can still give testimony to how God is at work in our lives. When I was in student ministry and shared my story, I discovered that people responded to genuine vulnerability and honesty more than to a slick rhetorical presentation. It wasn’t about whether I “said things right,” it was about whether what I was saying connected to who I really was as a person. When the experience of Jesus that we describe matches what others see in our lives, that’s true witness.
Taking time to marvel is a way to step off the hamster wheel. Instead of feeling like we’re missing out, or looking to the “next thing” that might scratch that hedonic itch over and over again, it dawns on us that we are already surrounded by marvelous, normal things. Instead of taking things for granted, we feel thankful. Wonder catalyzes gratitude.
If we think of ourselves as Christian leaders, we must first become followers. We must let Jesus include us on the only terms which he uses to include anyone: “Come, follow me.” If we, for any reason, think that we have arrived or secured a place for ourselves apart from answering that call, we are mistaken. Our own sin should be enough to remind us that we need a savior just as much as the next person does! No level of respectability and no set of social markers can rescue us from sin; only Jesus can do that.
It’s in his story of suffering that we see who Jesus is—the kind of person he is, and the kind of Messiah he is. In particular, we can learn about Jesus from his attitude toward his own suffering while it happens. Looking at the passages in Luke about Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and passion, there are four aspects of his attitude toward suffering that emerge:
• I’m ready for this.
• I don’t have to fight this.
• I can love others in the middle of this.
• There’s something better on the other side of this.
Sometimes leaders can no longer honestly say, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair . . . struck down, but not destroyed.” Instead, they do feel crushed and near to despair. How do we recognize when it’s time to take a break, and what kind of change do we need?
People who are quiet by dint of personality have a particular gift to offer the broader Christian community… the habit of paying attention and being receptive comes much more naturally to some than others. The people who “take up the most space in the room” may not notice everything going on in the room. It’s hard to listen while you’re talking; those who talk less can take in more.