(This week we continue in our four-week WholeLifeWorship series on “Faith at Work.” Our guest blogger is Tim Lee, who is on staff with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. – DL)
Last week, I shared about how faith can be EXPRESSED at work. This week, I will discuss how faith ENHANCES our work (with two more ways to think about faith at work to come!)
The Gospel author Matthew writes: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (6:33). As we follow Jesus, all of these other things will fall into place. I believe this promise can be found in our work life as well.
Here are three ways that I have found how faith can enhance our work life:
1. Prayer/Mediation: We all have those moments at work when we are off. Whether we are stressed, angry, anxious, overworked, or even lethargic, work is the last place where we want to be. While mindfulness is becoming a very popular buzzword these days, the practice of prayer and meditation in the Christian faith has been around for centuries. Yes, there are biological benefits to taking in deep breaths to reduce our stress, but we should not miss out on the spiritual reality that we can invite God into our space and meditate on Scripture.
When you feel off, stop and pause. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out. When you inhale, imagine you are breathing in God’s presence, and when you exhale, breath out the emotions you want to release (stress, anger, etc.) Alternatively, you can also choose a short scripture and allow it to repeat in your mind during your breathing (for example, Be still and know that I am God Psalm 46:10).
2. Sabbath: Sabbath is not just a day off. It is also not just the day when we go to church. Exodus 20 describes this as a day ceasing from work. This meant all work. Household work, errands, everything. It is interesting how much work we can end up doing on days when we are not actually supposed to be working.
In my recent reading of Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, he shares that when his family gathers and discusses their highlight of the week, almost every time his answer is his Sabbath day of rest. He also share two questions that he uses as filters to keep his sabbath: 1) Is this restful? 2) Is this worship? If he answers “no” to both of those questions, he won’t do it on the Sabbath. In my own experience, I have found that when I take a full 24-hour day to cease from work and rest in the Lord, I actually show up on Mondays refreshed and ready to go.
What could it look like to take a 12-hour period to cease from all work and enjoy rest and worship?
3. Generosity/Gratitude: I remember times working my first job at the bank when I dreaded seeing my boss make the rounds and say that we had to come in on Saturday. In my mind, the overtime compensation simply did not make up for losing a day off. One day I decided that I would donate all of my overtime pay to bless the ministry where younger friends whom I once mentored were now mentoring incoming students themselves. It totally changed my attitude when I had to work on Saturdays.
I believe that the practice of generosity not only can be a blessing to others, but it also keeps work and money in its proper place. Money is not the only thing that matters at work. Generosity can even be tied in to gratitude; when we recognize God’s blessing in running a profitable business, receiving a bonus, or even in his provision in simply having a job, it is a spiritual act to respond with gratitude and mirror God’s generosity to others.
One caution that I will include in talking about how faith enhances our work, this should NOT be the main reason why do it. If we follow Jesus only for these types of blessings and benefits, our faith actually becomes one that is pretty self-centered, instead of being Jesus-center. And when taken to the extreme, this type of thinking that leads to false belief of the prosperity gospel.
One of my favorite stories from Scripture that highlights this is that of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph works at many different jobs from serving as Potiphar’s household manager to overseeing the prisoners to eventually becoming Pharoah’s second-in-command. Repeatedly Scripture highlights that Joseph and practically everything he touched prospered; “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered” (39:2), “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (39:21).
Our attention may focus on how not only Joseph but the entire land of Egypt prospered. But I think the main point in all of that God is this: God was WITH Joseph. In all of his highs and lows, God is with Joseph every step of the way.
How would your work life be enhanced if you could sense God’s presence with you throughout the day?
Thank you, Tim, for your great insights and applications of how our faith can ENHANCE our work. On a personal note, since I started seriously implementing the practice of Sabbath (not just a day off, but seriously ceasing to work and connecting with God throughout the day) and having times of Silent Prayer during my work day, my work attitude and productivity has jumped off the charts! I encourage you to try these practices as see how your work is enhanced – DL
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