Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jobapalooza: Work and Our Spiritual Lives: How do they mesh?

Welcome to Jobapalooza, where we are celebrating all things work. Why? Because I got a job!

I love when God brings a word to you right when you need it... do you know what I mean? Like if you have been struggling with forgiving someone and you walk into church and the sermon is on forgiveness, or if you just can't make a decision about something and He brings like five people who don't know each other but all say the same thing to you?? Anyhow, I have been reading (for like two months now) Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. And today wouldn't you know the part I was reading had to do with work. Ha. Why is this funny? Because God just provided a job for me, after four months of unemployment. I start next week. Apparently, He had some things He wanted to teach me before I got back to the workplace. SO of course I am going to share those things with you.

Ok so in the book, he has been going through the different elements of what should make up the morning family devotion, and after he talks about prayer he starts in on how after the devotion you go to work. He says "Prayer and working are two different things. Prayer should not be hinder by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer." It sounds almost sacrilegious doesn't it? Surely prayer is more important than work, thats what most of us are taught to believe. But is it? He goes on to point out that God has commanded that man work for six days and rest on the seventh, that God expects and wants man to work. How often do you think about your work as something God wants you to do (SAHM's I am counting your staying at home a job too)? I think we have slipped into a common thought of work being something we have to do to get money, and not work being something God wants us to do in order to sanctify us (me included in this).

Work plunges men into the world of things. The Christian steps out of the world of brotherly encounter into the world of impersonal things, the "it"; and this new encounter frees him for objectivity; for the "it"-world is only an instrument in the hand of God for the purification of Christians from all self-centeredness and self-seeking. The work of the world can be done only where a person forgets himself, where he loses himself in the cause, in reality, the task, the "it". In work the Christian learns to allow himself to be limited by the task, and thus for him the work becomes remedy against the indolence and sloth of the flesh. The passions of the flesh die in the world of things. But this can happen only where the Christian breaks through the "it" to the "Thou," which is God, who bids him work and makes that work a means of liberation from himself. pg. 70

He goes on to describe that seeing the "Thou" through our work becomes what Paul calls "pray without ceasing". That in being able to see God and work for him and not yourself or others, this is where prayer becomes an every moment thing.

"Thus the prayer of the Christian reaches beyond its set time and extends into the heart of his work. It includes the whole day, and in doing so, it does not hinder the work; it promotes it, affirms it, and lends it meaning and joy."

Have you seen your "work", whatever it may be, as a way to please the Father? Have you thought of it as a way for Him to refine you? Have you worked at your job as if working unto the Lord? I think when we see it this way, it will be easy to talk to the Lord all day about it, about what we are doing, what we are struggling with and asking for His strength and character instead of our own.

What a good lesson for me before I return to work! I will be an "Office Associate", which is a nice and new way to say secretary. It will be easy to think this job doesn't matter spiritually, but that just isn't true. This is an opportunity for the Lord to refine me, and in the process to "bring many sons to glory".

How about you, have you ever thought about this? How do you view your job? What struggles do you have with meshing your relationship with God and the place you spend majority of your day at?

1 comment:

  1. Oooh--that's a good reminder! I definitely think of my job as something I "have to do"--I think I look for ways to glorify God in the office everyday, specifically in trying to love on my coworkers and be as Christ-like as possible, but I need to work more on my attitude. My biggest struggle is honestly trying love and accept my coworkers without falling into negative attitudes and behaviors with them. Good stuff to think about--and congrats again on the job!