At first it might seem like working a job for the sake of what we get out of it is inevitable. Would you still show up to your job if you didn’t get paid? But there’s a shift in attitude that can bring immense freedom to the way we do our work. We do work “for ourselves,” but in a roundabout way. Doing our work for the sake of others ends up working to our advantage, because it makes us into the kind of people we truly long to become.
There were a couple times when we tried to take the keys back from God like, “No, no, we’re gonna control this.” And then one of us would stop and go, “Hang on. What are we doing right now? And why are we doing it?” Then we’d stop, refocus, hand the keys back to God. And boom, the week would be booked out. And it’s just like—Wow, it’s really cool what God does when you just trust him. This whole season of our life has just been,”Trust God, it will be okay.” It’s really cool to see him move in that.
When I talk with other Christians about evangelism, the practice of sharing the good news of Jesus, I find that the topic can spark anxiety. People are often confident about how not to do evangelism, but not about how to do it in a way that makes sense for their context. For most of us, the main context where we get to know people of different spiritual perspectives is at work. But the challenges of guilt, awkwardness, and timidity can hold us back from starting spiritual conversations that count with our coworkers. What could it look like to share our faith in the workplace in a way that’s joyful, emotionally intelligent, and confident?
It’s our conviction and experience that God has done right by us that allows us to do right by others. We could sum up the pattern of justice we see in Scripture like this: Because God is just to us, we can learn to be just, too. That just character is made manifest in both interpersonal relationships and in how we address larger social systems.
I know that when I consider making time for spiritual practices like prayer, the first thought that comes to mind is, “But I’m so busy!” Of course, one of the main things I’m always busy with is my job. This week, I had planned to do an after-work prayer time on Monday, but somehow I found the work project I was wrapping up kept me late at the office. Not extremely late: Just forty-five minutes, enough for me to run out of time for prayer before the rest of my evening responsibilities started.
Experiences like this can reinforce the sense that my job is a problem, a barrier to the kind of life with God that I want to live. It’s easy to imagine that if somehow my circumstances were different, making time for prayer and other spiritual practices would be easy. Giving up my job for Lent sounds kind of nice.
Not all of us do literal craftworks in the visual arts. The gift of the Spirit is universal for those in Christ, but the specific work we do is particular. As Paul writes in, “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:5 NIV). Although it’s not explicit in the text, I think a case can be made that the different kinds of service are different kinds of beauty. Isn’t there something beautiful about good work, done well, regardless of what kind of work it is?
We get at this broader idea of beauty when we describe someone’s efforts as “beautiful work” even if it isn’t artistic work. Beauty includes the idea of wholeness, goodness, or excellence—not just aesthetic or artistic beauty as such. What if any work we do well and wholly are as pleasing to God as a beautiful sonata or painting?
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.
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.