Do we define the space or does the space define us?

I was walking past a couple of elders as they talked in church on Sunday . I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. They were talking to each other about the challenges that face them in the workplace. I stopped and listened to them as they began to share with me some of the issues that face them as Christians at work. One of them said to me " I feel like two different people there's the professional me and then there is the guilty Christian me" It got me thinking about the importance of helping fellow Christians to live authentic lives in the workplace. I know God doesn't expect us to be split personalities. I also noticed that there is a great deal of thinking going on about how workers can be effective and happy in their work space. I think we have something as Christians to bring to the discussion. [youtube][/youtube] I've been reading Max Lucado's book entitled " Cure for the Common Life" in this book Lucado seeks to enourage his readers to serve God by living in what he calls "Your Sweet Spot". The secret of a happy contented life according to Lucado is to live in the place where you feel content. To live and work out of your God given talent. In other words we learn to bat to our strengths.The thing is, its not always that easy. He suggests that if we are a square peg in a round hole that we should learn to change our attitude towards our job before we change our job. He recognises that we might have to change our workplace but he offers some advice to those who have to survive before a change occurs. Its a simple idea but it is a biblical idea. He suggests that we blur the dividing line between the secular and the sacred. Offer your desk, your work tools, your situation to God as an act of worship. I think there is something in all this. Too often we forget that worship can be a struggle as well as a delight. Part of the worship is the struggle. Jacob was in the midst of a spiritual experience that was described as a wrestling match with an angel. Did Jesus not demonstrate this idea when he faced the temptations in the wilderness. He turns to the devil and says, "Your yesterday's news I'm moving on I'm not listening to you ",quoting Deuternonomy, he reminds us that we are called to serve the Lord our God with all our heart. The suggestion is that we see ourselves working for the Lord and not the employer. We do what we do as "unto the Lord" Back to the elders talking, one of them said to me, looking around the church, "its easier for you, your working in this Christian environment all the time." The question is am I ? The truth is that every work place environment has its challenges. I think its all about what we as Christian people bring to the environment that we work in. Many years ago, I guess it was in another life, I worked for a number of years in a bank. I hated my work. I wasn't all that good at being a banker. I found the experience too boring. I used to divise strategies to make the experience more worthwhile. I remember one particular day praying over thousands of bank notes. I started to think about what these notes could buy, what they had bought. the trouble they had brought the debts they had paid, and the debts people owed. I asked God to use the bank note for his glory - for me that was one of the most productive days in my banking career. Lucado points out that the painter Jean-Francois Millet, when painting the pastoral scene of the two workers at prayer highlights the produce in the barrow rather than the workers in the field. Perhaps we all need to see that the greatest question to ask about our work is "What am I producing?" and " What is the effect of my work on the lives of others?" I have no doubt this post must raise some question for all of us. So please give me so comments.
1 Comment

Posted By: Helen Faulds   On: 21 Jan 2010   At: 6:34am

Thanks for this timely post Albert.  Certainly our situation with Ian’s work last year was something that tested all of this.  We found that the tougher it got - moving beyond the ‘normal’ frustrations and inconveniences of being a Christian in the workplace, the challenges to integrity and faith, the clearer it all became!  The more Ian was asked to compromise the deeper our faith became.  The darker the day the brighter that flame within us.  And brighter the love and support of our Christian family.  It was certainly the darkest of nights in our experience but that darkness produced more of the grace and peace of God in us. 

Ian is now working in industry again and enjoying the challenges of that.  Working alongside people who have never known the love of God and who often have deep needs and dreams of their own gives God opportunity to once again get alongside the people He loves.  Getting to know workmates enables him to tell some of the stories of his life and experience. From early days people nicknamed him “Hero” - a term relating to some of the adventures of faith we have been priviledged to be part of.  It is a much more apt name than some that were flung his way in the last place anyway!!!!  With such a view of course comes responsibility BUT he didn’t look for the title so he doesn’t need to live up to it - he IS a hero,not because he tries to be but because of who God is in him, all day every day.  We cannot change our personality to adapt to the workplace anymore than we can adapt it to live at home or serve in church.  When we are trying to be Christians it is much tougher.  When we know that we are born of God and reflect Him, just as our grand-daughter of 15 months reflects the look and personality of several generations gone before her - we can be comfortable in our own skin and enjoy it. 


Today I will embark on a new job challenge.  I have been asked to translate a website from Norwegian to English.  Do I speak Norwegian? No.  Am I comfortable with translation? No.  But someone starting out on an exciting new business adventure offered me the job because they know I will give it my best - and prayerful - shot.  What fun!  Life as a Christian worker can be dull, require endurance, test your integrity but today…what fun!!!!

Leave a reply