Chapter 39 – Workplace

 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

– Colossians 3:23, NIV

The workplace… A dreaded word, to many people. For most of us, it is where we spend the vast majority of our time, and we make the most of the times when we are free of it. Our lives revolve around it – we have to plan all our other arrangements, people we want to see and things we want to do, around when we are or are not at work. Some days we even count down the hours until the working day is over. Some Monday mornings we wake up with ‘Monday blues’ – the knowledge that our next free day is almost a full week away. We spend an absolutely enormous amount of time working – and sometimes it can feel like our time spent ‘not working’ is simply time to recover from work, in order to go back to work able to continue being as productive as we have to be in the working environment.

Since our workplace is such an integral part of our existence – where we spend a vast amount of our time and the place that our lives seem to revolve around – God wants to be involved. Let us surrender it to Him: let us give into His hands our workplaces, our time spent there, the way we think about work, and the very work that we do.

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.

– Ephesians 6:7, NIV

When my husband was job-hunting, the one thing that he was most nervous about regarding which job he would take on was whether he would get on well with his colleagues. Since we spend so much time in the workplace, working relationships have a huge impact on our lives, regardless of whether or not we want them to. If we have just one horrible colleague, or a colleague who we don’t get on with, this can cause us to dread going to work, and even cause us to resent that place where we spend such a huge number of our waking hours. Difficult working relationships can make us miserable in the workplace – and great working relationships can make us enjoy being there and sometimes even look forward to going to work.

So may we surrender to God our relationships with our colleagues. May we give into His hands our attitudes towards them and the ways we think about them. In Adrian Plass’s Sacred Diaries books, he writes rather a lot about a particular colleague at work whom he finds incredibly irritating, and whose passing comments consume Adrian’s attention and cause him to imagine taking various forms of revenge on this colleague. Perhaps you can relate to Adrian in this regard, with colleagues who you struggle to get on with, perhaps even colleagues who seem to go out of their way to make your life a misery. May we surrender to God our colleagues. May we surrender to Him the ways in which we think about our colleagues, too, and our responses to them. May we surrender to God our relationships with our colleagues – the ones we get on well with, and the ones we don’t. The ones who inspire us, and the ones who annoy or anger us. May we surrender, and allow God to teach us His ways and put His thoughts within us.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

– Matthew 5:13-15, NIV

God has called us to be salt and light – to be His witness to the world. I believe that this applies in our workplace just as much – or even more – than anywhere else, because we spend so much of our time and energy there, and because it is such a huge part of our lives. So may we surrender to God our witness in the workplace. May we give Him our mindsets and the ways in which we think, speak and behave in the workplace. May we surrender to Him the ways in which we speak to our colleagues, and the light that we shine for Him there. May we surrender our role and ministry as His children, and the ‘mission field’ that is our workplace.

More and more we see in society the mentality that productivity is everything. In our workplaces this attitude of prioritising productivity above all else can be overwhelming. It can drain us of all energy, all excitement, all life – and it can seem to take the meaning and purpose out of our work. May we surrender to God our mindsets and our priorities when we are in our workplaces. May we give into His hands our productivity, and the way we think about our work. May we surrender to Him any competitive nature or attitude that we might see in our workplaces, and open ourselves up for Him to work for good in and through us. May we give ourselves into His hands and allow Him to use us in our workplaces. May we surrender our hands to Him, and all the work that we do each week.

Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

– Matthew 28:20, NIV

I think it’s absolutely amazing that God is always with us. That He never leaves us, not even for a moment. And indeed that we forget His presence. The Creator of the Universe is with us, all around us, and within us – and we often don’t even notice. May we surrender to God our consciousness: let us give over into His hands our awareness of His presence with us while we are at work, whatever we are doing. Perhaps He will help us to become more aware of His companionship there, which may enrich our days as we learn to look to Him and enjoy His presence even in the midst of our colleagues and the most mundane of tasks. I believe that He loves it when we remember Him; when we notice or acknowledge His presence with us; when we consciously spend our days with Him, walking and talking with Him throughout all that we do – including, if not especially, while we’re at work. He is our closest Friend, the One that we can talk to at all times – even about nothing in particular. He desires to share our experiences with us and help us become more aware of His constant companionship. So may we surrender to Him our workplaces, and allow Him to shape our mindsets and make us more aware of His presence with us.

May we surrender, too, our feelings towards our work. Some days we may be excited to get to work, other days we may be bored at work, or just feel tired, or endure headaches at work, or feel angry about things at work, or feel lonely – or any number of other things. May we surrender these to God. May we give Him all of our emotions and let him shape us. May we offer our workplace and all that we think or feel towards it entirely into His hands, and allow Him to fill us with His Spirit and lead us. May we surrender to Him our hands and the way we work, and let Him guide and teach us. May we give ourselves to Him, and see what He chooses to do with us!

I took you from the ends of the earth,

    from its farthest corners I called you.

I said, ‘You are my servant’;

    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

– Isaiah 41:9-10, NIV

 

God of my Salvation,

Thank You for being with me wherever I am, always.

Thank You for loving all people, even the colleagues who annoy me.

Thank You for my job. And thank you for placing me there in my workplace as Your witness.

I’m sorry for forgetting and ignoring You at times, and for not always having honourable attitudes when I’m at work.

I surrender my workplace to You.

I give you my colleagues, and my relationships with them.

I give You my feelings about work – the good and the bad.

I give You my time: please help me to know Your presence and to talk with You throughout each day, even in my workplace.

I surrender my hands and ask that You would guide and lead me.

Please use me in any way You choose!

Teach me to love and serve and work in a way that pleases You.

May I live in Your ways, serving You the way You want me to.

Amen

 

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