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?
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.
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.
Somehow, my pain had become a place where I could experience God’s love. It was as though I needed the warm-up of paying attention to my emotions more intentionally for a few months before it was even possible for me to experience something like that. As I got to know my emotions for myself, I now could share them with God. I could find God in the sadness.
The end of the year can be heavy, both symbolically and emotionally. It’s a chance to anchor ourselves in time and consider making a new start. That means the end of the year is a great opportunity for spiritual reflection. Here’s a 20-minute prayer exercise to help you bring your year to a close in the presence of God.
I confess that I’m not sure, at the level of larger social and denominational structures, what can be done about this disagreement. Bonnie Kristian has spoken to the possibility of division in sobering terms; for many of our institutions we may have to say “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” But I do know that at the scale of interpersonal relationships and local congregations, Scripture calls for us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 NIV) and to “bear with each other and forgive one another” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). To that end, I recommend four difficult steps for conversations about race:
1. Practice a Posture of Prayer
2. Have Humility
3. Hold Your Ground, Gently
4. Champion Cultural Change