Some days, working “as if for the Lord” (Col 3:23, Eph 6:7) at my day job seems impossible. The difficult truth about that is that it says only a little about my job, but it says much about me. Worst of all, it says almost nothing about the Lord. That’s the part that stings; it is the biggest missed opportunity, both for me and for those watching me.
I used to think that I’d want to work for a church, because it would be most like working for God. I imagined that the spiritual and emotional rewards would be overwhelming. In the secular market, my job itself provides little in the way of emotional reward – though it isn’t without them, when I solve complex problems or when I talk to customers who have become friends because I’ve helped them through difficult situations, or when I lean in to coworkers who have become dear friends.
I used to think that Spiritual rewards are even more scarce. But, perhaps I’ve been looking at them the wrong way. Dallas Willard famously said of church growth metrics, “Instead of counting Christians, we need to weigh them.” These last few years, I’ve tried to stop counting the spiritual blessings at work and I’ve started to try to weigh them instead. That is, to measure the blessings by their value rather than their number.
I’ve been discovering that my pride was keeping a poor record of these Spiritual rewards; a tally sheet with too few strokes and too many erasure marks. A good boss and better friend showed me generosity and grace, and allowed me to stop fighting to protect my pride and instead, listen for these differently.
I don’t want to work for a church anymore. Not because I don’t want to “work for God,” but instead, I don’t think it would change anything. Or, perhaps, it would only make things worse.
The change I was looking for – and the one that is starting to make a difference – is that I no longer read “work as if working for the Lord” as a call to impute godliness onto my employer. We work for people, not God. We shouldn’t expect them to be God. It’s a call to take the same attitude as when I try to serve Him in other aspects of my life. It’s a call to assume I don’t know everything He (or my boss) does. To assume that He (and my boss) are good; or, at least, that my boss’s intentions are good. And that I should take that submissive position.
I don’t know why God calls me to the things He’s called me to. I don’t know everything He knows and the things I do know I can’t seem to understand the way that He does. The same pride that I fight to protect smears the lens through which I see my work. Giving all my effort to work as if working for the Lord means humility, patience, kindness. Those make way for love, joy, and peace.
No matter what I’ve said about myself or my job through the frustration, wins and losses, ups and downs, I’m beginning to accept that I don’t need to speak for God.
The Spirit of God speaks for himself. I’m learning better to listen and that is making the work easier.