Thursday, June 4, 2009

Working for God

With the conclusion of my second year of teaching, it seems appropriate to discuss the topic of work. Over the past two years I struggled with the transition from college to career. It wasn't so much the pace or demands of my job, but more how I was perceiving my role as a Christian in a full time career. Many people have told me that teaching is full time ministry, and I whole heartedly agree, but that's not what I was struggling with. It's hard for me to explain, but it was as if I almost felt like I didn't know how to incorporate my life as a Christian into day-to-day living in my career as a teacher. I have slowly acclimated over the past two years while God slowly reveals things to me about this struggle. I am not out of the woods yet on my struggle, but God shared some neat things in a sermon last week at church. The sermon was given by Bill Eaton, a past Deacon of my church and the notes that follow were based on his sermon.

Bill shared some startling statistics--we spend more than 50% of our waking hours in our jobs. With that in mind, how might my career be different so that I am pleasing God in this activity that I will dedicate a large chunk of my life to? God calls us to be salt (Matthew 5:13) and light (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:14-15) in this world so that means we are to be salt and light in our places of work too. I like how Bill phrased this on Sunday, "Salt is used to prevent decay. It is supposed to flavor what it touches. As God's salt and light in the world, do we touch all things with the will, love and grace of God?"

Hmm. That's something to reflect on now, isn't it? I know I can be salt and light when it's easy and when people are nice to me. But what about those students of mine who just wear on my nerves? Or that teacher who asks question after question in staff meetings? Do I leave a little salt and light in their life? Am I an identifiable follower of Christ throughout the school day? Both as a teacher and a co-worker?

Bill posed the following questions as some things to think about in regard to our lives at work. They can pretty much be applied to life in general. Read over them. Think about them. Make yourself answer them. And don't worry, this isn't like one of those tests in Good Housekeeping that says your wierd if your answers aren't all "yes." I'm not perfect, no one is, so don't feel bad if your answers aren't all yes. Okay, go ahead and feel bad. It's a part of the process if you want to change.

  • Do I reflect the self giving of Christ or the grasping of whatever I can get?
  • Do I seek to serve others or seek to control them by expecting them to serve me?
  • Do I only serve those who are pleasant toward me or all those who God brings in my center of influence?
  • Do I demonstrate that I am only working for money or do I demonstrate that I delight in a God who gave His son for me?
  • Do I offer my work to God in worship of Him?
  • Do I grumble and complain or am I appreciative and thankful?
  • Am I the light of Christ in conversations with others? Do I lend comfort, hope and encouragement or do I appear downcast?
  • Do I act as light with my employer? Do I work with a sincere and pure heart that is full of integrity when I am supervised only?

I'm not off the hook from following and obeying Christ at work, even now with summer break in full swing. I have found that it is sometimes harder to follow Christ at work, laying aside my own desires. But I pray that God will be evident in your (and mine) work ethic, attitude and desire to serve as you work day in, and day out. George Washington Carver said, "When you do things in life in an uncommon way you will command the attention of the world." Bill paraphrased this quote in closing last Sunday by saying, "Do the common things in life in an uncommon way because we have an uncommon God." So when you're at work to tomorrow, give it a try. Do things in an uncommon way. You'll make some heads turn and you'll definitely please God.


The Hursts said...

Great post, Katy! The questions really got me thinking. Now that I'm working from home, I guess I haven't been seeing (or looking for) the opportunities to be salt and light to those whom I work with/for. It is not always so obvious when you lack face to face interaction with people! I find myself affirming, offering to pray for, and comforting those students who are especially good at their work and try really hard. Then...there are those students I grumble about because they ask too many questions or don't participate as often. This opened my eyes to those opportunities that God is giving me to be salt and light to the world. (I'll just pretend like we had this conversation over coffee like old times :)

Katy said...

Emily, I miss you! Thanks for the comment...I really enjoyed this sermon and it got me thinking about how I am using my time for God. There is always the classic definition of work, but our speaker also defined work as whatever we spend our day doing. This could be motherhood if you are a stay at home mom or if you are confined to bed rest your work could be the way you interact with those who help you.

Miss you girl!