Now anyone reading the title for this may be excused for thinking it was a sarcastic title, as let’s face it, not many people were counting down the days AFTER Christmas in anticipation for when they would be back in the office. Would it make it odd that I was genuinely looking forward to being back to work?
Now before I make myself appear any more strange than you may already think I am, I would just like to explain my position a bit more. Thereafter, feel free to shake your head at me should our paths ever cross..
Several years ago I dreaded Sundays. I would be miserable on a Sunday night to which my girlfriend (now wife) could never figure out why I would be so down. Finally one Sunday I was being really moody and she asked why I’m always moody on a Sunday, to which I responded “It’s because Sundays lead to Mondays which mean going back to work”. For me, I couldn’t enjoy Sunday because I knew Monday was lurking around the corner just waiting to pounce.
There is no popular restaurants name TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) for a good reason. Most people hate Mondays!
Yet now I find Monday to be exciting, a day to embrace and if possible, arrive early to work to stretch out the day.
A few years ago, I recall doing a course with a few Christian friends called ‘God at work’ or a variation of that title. In it, the speaker talked about as Christians, how God is excited about ALL aspects of our lives, including our work lives and that we honour him even when we are at work. In fact, a verse was discussed that really stood out to me to the point I had it as part of the footer in my emails for a time. The scripture was
Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people
Up to this point in my working career, I never once thought of what I did in my job as mattering to God. That my responding to emails, answering the phone or even unblocking the printer (seriously does every office job come with learning to unblock the printer??) was something that pleased God. In a sense, I had partitioned God from work as this clearly could not be something he was interested in…could he?
Here is a question for you. What is it that you like about your job? Is it the pay, the people, location , freedom you are given or the challenges your job brings? It could be something else. But what happens when there is something else that enters this equation, something that does the opposite and makes you hate the job. Again, it could be one of the suggestions above.
In a previous company I worked for, I dreaded going to work. I hated it when I knew I was due to be back in the building to the point it stopped me from sleeping. If I did manage to sleep, my dreams would be dark and grim quite often ending with me waking up scared / angry or just depressed.
Now my actual job wasn’t particularly onerous or complicated, nor was it a long journey or really dangerous. In fact, I actually liked the job I did. The problem I had was actually very straightforward. I had a bully. It took me years after this situation passed to realise the situation for what it was and even now, I still look back at the memories and wish I was strong enough to face the individual and let them know how much they were affecting me.
My amazing wonderful job was tainted and I struggled to enjoy the days I worked. For me, relying on having amazing people in any company I work is critical. I am a people person and that is perhaps more important to me than the job itself.
Yet how might my experience have been different if I saw this job as part of my worship to God. Would my dread and fear at going in to work be transformed to something else? Would seeing and seeking God in the midst of my trial, have opened my eyes to the assurance of God’s love for me? Would knowing my work bully was going to make my day miserable be something that still bothered me but through prayer my eyes would have seen more? Perhaps someone who is in pain and lashing out at others because that is the only way they know how to connect with others.
In my current job, there are days where things are going well and I’m super excited to be involved in what is happening. There are also days when I am dreading a meeting or conversation that needs to take place. However, in all of these situations, I choose to have Joy in my workplace, as it is my way of Worshipping God. But this isn’t just a way of thinking that is needed. Many times when I’ve gone to the restroom, I will say a quick prayer to God about something I’m struggling with and God has acted. God acts in the workplace. He cares about your filing deadlines, your missing paperwork, your broken printer and your car that won’t start on a cold Monday morning. He is interested to hear about your joys, your problems, your fears and your hopes even when it all kicks off on a Monday morning. God wants us to involve him in our work lives, just as much as he does our personal lives. In fact, I feel safe in saying God wants to be involved in our lives with no segregation because we feel it’s too small and unimportant to him.
There is a poem in the old records of the bible that highlights the Joy of the Lord and one of the verses go like this
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For me, this verses reminds me each day, wherever I go, I want to have thanksgiving and praise in my heart as I see his gates and court to be all around me as I enter and leave work each day. I’m still a far way off dancing into work but I try to have a song on my heart as I walk into my office or a prayer for the day in my mind.
So if you are reading this and think, “I wish I could be like you Ardel but my job is so…..” or “It’s find to say this but the reality of my situation is …” let me be the first to tell you that seeing a transformed mindset to work is not something that happens in one go. This is something I’ve been on a journey with for a number of years. I’ve also benefitted immensely from some wise mentors/managers who have challenged me and continue to challenge me in many ways.
There is so much more that can be said on this topic that would fill a book and yet still have room for several evenings of discussions. Yet I will only leave you with this. If you know Jesus in your life, then I hope you will know him in all parts of your life. Work is a major part of most individuals lives and yet it is still something we find it hard to bring before God in our talks with him. If you don’t know Jesus but want to find out more, we would love to have you at Portswood Church on a Sunday morning or contact us on the website portswood.org where we would love to talk to you more about any part of this blog. Finally, below is a snippet from a Christian friend of mine. I shared my working draft of this blog to him and asked him how he finds joy in the workplace. Something, you may wish to ask yourself as well.
Finding joy in the workplace? I find joy in the expected places of work – a job well done, recognition from colleagues, success for the business. But more, I experience a deep joy, in hard work, when I acknowledge and connect with my Creator, who gave me these skills and abilities.
I find joy in the many relationships with people in my workplace. Not only with those who encourage and support me, but seeing the God-image in all those around me. What joy can be found helping others discover who God has made them to be, to find freedom and to experience grace and mercy!
I find joy in the midst of disappointments and failure in the workplace. God is not absent, and we are not without hope. I can choose to remember my Father in Heaven, who loves me no less. It is a privilege to represent Jesus at those times, and to show others another way – a way that doesn’t ignore pain or suffering, but that isn’t overcome by it either.