This week we are starting a four-week series on “Faith at Work.” We are honored to have Tim Lee, staff worker for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) and long-time campus pastor for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, to be our guest blogger in this series. (Tim is also my oldest son – yep, I’m a proud Dad!) I know you will enjoy this series. We welcome your comments and thoughts.
As WholeLifeWorshipers, we seek to experience and worship God in the everyday and ordinary. Oftentimes, however, it can seem like the everyday, ordinary routine of work feels separate from our life of worship. We think that only before work or after work is when we have the time, the space, and the freedom to worship as we would like. Or maybe the only occupations that would allow worship at work are jobs at a church or in a ministry setting.
Yet nearly one-third of our lives are spent at work. Most of us will be working for 40+ years over the course of our lifetimes. If we were to ignore or put on pause our life of worship and faith while at work, we would miss out on a significant portion of our spiritual journey where God may be at work in us as well as the people around us.
We feel the curse of work found in Genesis 3:17-19 that pricks us with endless thorns and thistles, stress and sweat, scarcity and toil, and broken human interactions. For many of us, work may feel like just a tiresome means to an end of providing for ourselves and our families; we find ourselves dreading Mondays while our souls yearn for Saturdays and holidays, or even further to when we retire and be forever liberated from the burden of work.
However, the truth of the matter is, in all the goodness and splendor of God’s original design for creation, work was an intended as a good, life-giving part of creation for man; in Genesis 2:15, God blesses Adam with the responsibility, authority, and privilege of work by putting him “in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it.” And now all of creation, including work, longs for God’s redemption.
So how can we be a part of God’s plan of redemption in the workplace? How can our lives of worship and faith interact with and bless our places of work?
I am grateful for Dr. Matthew Kaemingk, who taught my seminary class on multiple ways of thinking about faith at work. While I will discuss the three others in the upcoming weeks), one of them is that faith can be EXPRESSED at work.
As Christians, we are ambassadors of Christ and we represent him everywhere we go as an expression of our faith. Here are the three ways faith can be expressed at work:
Expressed in word – From the time of Jesus sending his disciples out to now, the Christian faith is an expressive one that calls us to go, preach, and proclaim the good news. This can upfront and vocal like sharing the gospel with others, but depending on your context, we need to take great care in allowing the Christian values of prudence, wisdom, and discernment to inform what is an appropriate conversation at work. This can also look like an invitation to church, or like handling our words with kindness, gentleness, patience, and encouragement; we can bring words of redemption and healing to others, just like Jesus did in his ministry.
Expressed in deed – Our faith is also not one of just head knowledge, but that calls us to be imitators of God and walk in his love (Ephesians 5:1-2). One specific expression of Jesus’ love is that of servanthood, when he washes his disciples’ feet in John 13. Another expression of Jesus’ compassion is the picture of his abundance and generosity when he feeds over 5,000, and his disciples have twelve baskets full of the leftovers. Imagine how acts of servanthood and generosity would not only impact your workplace, but how much would it strengthen your discipleship in Jesus.
Expressed in prayer – When we pray, we commune with Jesus and invite him into that space. It is a simple but powerful spiritual act. Through prayer, we can invite Jesus into our workspace and we can invite him into the lives of others. Prayer at work or for your work can be something that you do on your own, but it is very encouraging and motivating if you are able to pray with a co-worker(s) who share(s) your faith. You can pray together during a break or before work hours. A nurse friend once told me that as she interacts with patients, she asks for permission if they would like prayer and, with that permission, it turns her work into her ministry.
When we appropriately express our faith at work, it will not only open opportunities for us to help others, but also expand our WholeLifeWorship of God in seeing Him at work – at our workplace. I encourage us to reflect on how our faith may be expressed at work:
-How can your words bless the people with whom you interact at work? What is a kind word you can say to someone else at work this week?
-How can your actions at work reflect Jesus? As you think about the character of Jesus (his servanthood, his generosity, his love and compassion), how could show that at work?
-What are the things you wish were different or better at work? What would it look like for you to see Jesus present at your workplace? Who, if any, could be someone at work that can pray with you? Take some time to pray for your workplace and for the people at work.
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