Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Two: Serving Christ in the Workplace.
Our reading for today: Philippians 3: 12-21 (MsgB)
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetite. But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like His own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which He is putting everything as it should be, under and around Him.
Work! Work! Work!
There are numerous reports out there that we Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese! And those same reports indicate that we Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, as well!
Author Juliet Schor, who wrote the best-selling book The Overworked American, concluded way back in the 1990’s, that Americans worked an average of nearly one month more per year than in we did in 1970. Recent reports indicate that with advent of I-phones, mobile offices, and all the wonders of today’s advanced technology, workers today rarely find themselves “off-the-clock”.
So when we delve into the idea of serving Christ in our workplace, the burning question for many of us becomes… “If I am laboring so long and hard at my day-job, how in the world can I ever have the time to allow Jesus to be more actively involved in and through my life?”
I remember a powerful conversation I had with a good brother in Christ years ago when I was working with Promise Keepers, the highly-successful men’s ministry that God used in touching many men for the cause of Christ back in the 1990’s. My friend, Ray, was the manager of a small industrial plant here in our city, overseeing a labor-intensive workplace where men and women were employed keeping railroad cars used for carrying a variety of highly toxic chemicals cleaned up and in tip-top operating order. Government standards are very high when it comes to keeping the levels of contamination low, so the pressure was on my friend on a daily basis to make sure his team was doing their job a 100% perfection rate.
Ray was a very devout follower of Jesus and felt the tug of the Master to do more for the cause of Christ in his life, but in our conversation, he revealed to me how very discouraged he was that so many hours of his week were spent laboring on his “day-job” while he had hoped to do more for Jesus instead.
We were walking through his plant at the time of this conversation, so I asked my friend, “Ray…you spend so many hours here in this building and it sounds like you’d rather be somewhere else working for Jesus, right?” Ray nodded in agreement. “So, Ray, since you can’t follow that dream right now, why don’t you do something else? How about since you can’t go off to follow Jesus, you try inviting Jesus to come be here with you as you work?”
Ray looked a bit puzzled at first, but by the time we were done, my friend realized that he, as manager of this plant, could begin looking at his job a bit differently. So we came up with a plan where Ray no longer saw himself as just a manager at his workplace, but in Jesus’ eyes, he was a plant manager/plant chaplain as well!
The results were amazing.
Over the next few months, Ray began coming in about a half-hour earlier than usual in the early mornings, bringing his Bible with him. Each morning, he’d walk through his empty plant, praying out loud and inviting Jesus to come into this workplace, bringing God’s sovereign presence into this environment, blessing each worker as he called out their names in prayer.
I recall about a year later talking with Ray and finding out how different he felt about his job and the many divine appointments he had found as he began seeing his role a bit differently than he had prior to inviting Jesus to come to work with him.
So how about you?
Have you invited Jesus to come to work with you today? As I see it, it’s just one simple way of doing what Paul suggests here in his letter to the Philippians…keeping our eyes on the true goal…glorifying Jesus in every and all ways!
My prayer: Jesus, thank You that You don’t always ask me to leave my work to come work for You, but it can be just the opposite! I believe You are waiting for me to invite You to join me in my work today, so that You and Your goodness can rule and reign in this thing I call W-O-R-K. May You be glorified in my workplace today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: In what practical, quiet, yet powerful ways can I bring Jesus into my work environment today without becoming a flaming, offensive Bible-thumper? Where might God be working in people and situations around me at work, and how might the Master desire for me to become actively involved, focusing not on me but coming alongside others for the greater glory of God?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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I once did this very thing as a contemplative exercise – I imagined myself going to work, and actually bringing Jesus with me. The first thing I felt was very undeserving – really? You want to come with ME? The next thing I felt was anxiety – Would Jesus correct the things I did at work during the day? As we walked into the building together (in my imagination) I watched him interact with everyone pleasantly and with a self-assurance that I was in awe of. No anxiety, no effort, nothing but calm confidence in who he was (is) and a quiet enjoyment to be there with me. I realized instantly as we walked down the hall side by side, that he did not need me to defend him or explain him. I was facing a very stressful relationship with a co-worker at that time, and I imagined meeting this person and performing my work tasks in the presence of this person, with Jesus with me. And he was WITH me! I felt strength and comfort radiating from him. Just him being there was calming and comforting – like when I was little and I just needed my Mom to come with me so I could have the courage to go. It was an amazing contemplation. I highly recommend you try it! Sit in a calm, quiet place and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your imagination. And then picture the whole scene – sights, sounds, smells, people, and imagine yourself there, and Jesus there with you in the flesh. I only did this once, and it changed quite a number of things for me with regards to my work life.
Wow! Shelley, I love it. What a creative way to open us up to a lot of healing and hope. Thanks for sharing your story! I hope others will pick up on this idea!