Friday, September 30, 2011

What God Has Done For You

How long has it been since you thought about what God did for you?

I'm not talking just about health or a good job or family or anything like that. Have you really ever thought about God's grace? Have you thought about Jesus as He hung on the cross? While He was there, He was a murderer, a liar, an adulterer, a cheat. Think about the sins in your life. While Jesus hung on the cross, He was guilty of those sins so that you don't have to be. Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Look at what Paul says in Romans 2:1: "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." We've been forgiven. Jesus was guilty so that we could experience indescribable grace. And yet it's still so hard not to pass judgment on others. When someone is rude to us, when they inconvenience us, or when we just don't like the way they look at us.

We probably all need to be reminded of the parable of the unmerciful servant. We've been forgiven a great debt. All that's left is for us to show mercy to others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

Yesterday I heard someone talking about Christians being active in the community. He quoted Matthew 5:16, "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I think that really captures what Monday Morning Christianity is all about. Honoring God at work is not about shoving a Bible at everyone you meet. To be sure, let people know what you believe. But being Christian at work is about living in such a way that people see Jesus in your actions--in the way you treat your supervisor, the way you handle conflicts, and the way you talk.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Keeps You from Experiencing Work-Life Balance

God knows that we need balance. I've blogged before about how God rested, in part, because of setting an example to us of the finiteness of work. In spite of the idea of Sabbath in the Bible, it's hard to find time to rest. Work keeps us busy.

In his book, "God on Monday," Benny Tabalujan lists several "Sabbath Spoilers," which are essentially ideologies or myths that keep us from experiencing the work-life balance that God knows we need. One is the idea that we have to make every moment productive. Do you ever feel like, if you stop working even for a minute, you're wasting time. Verses like "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10) don't seem to fit with our "got to keep moving" attitude.

Another attitude keeping us from balance according to Tabalujan is mechanistic time management. I have to admit that I struggle in this area--my day planner is divided into 30-minute increments and I am relentless about planning with it. He isn't against using time wisely--it's the over-emphasis on calculating time down to the second, with being more concerned about quantity than quality. I found it interesting as he pointed out that sundials were used for time-telling for most of history, giving only the "broad brush of daily time" and now we have clocks that are accurate down to the vibrations of an atom.

A third myth that steals rest is that our leisure time has to be filled with activities. I know people who can't seem to be happy unless they're doing something. They fidget if left to sit and enjoy an evening, or even I'm far from good at this, but I try to find times in every vacation or trip where we can sit and relax. Maybe it's an newly-discovered book store or a quiet place to enjoy an afternoon. Too often, we need our work to recover from vacation.

What keeps you from restful balance? Note I'm not suggesting laziness or sloth. Only that work be balanced with time to rest, recuperate, and worship.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Job Satisfaction

I have to admit a bit of hypocracy in this post. I get paid to do what I love, so it's difficult for me to write with credibility about how job satisfaction is less important than most of us think it is. Nevertheless...

All of us want to have a job that makes us happy. We want to wake up every morning excited about what we have ahead of us at work. We want to end every work day satisfied by the work we have done.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for many people. Many people dread their jobs. They get ready every morning looking for ways to delay getting to work. Perhaps they search for any reason to distract themselves during the day because their job is monotonous drudgery. If that's you, then please know that you have my sympathy.

However, loving what you do is not a prerequisite for honoring God at work. Doing what you do in love is. Regardless of whether you are satisfied with the tasks that are required of you at work and regardless of whether you are satisfied with the people with whom you work (coworkers, supervisors, etc.), your attitude shouldn't depend on your circumstances. Instead, your attitude should be based on the grace given to you by God through Jesus Christ.

Paul talks about contentment in every circumstance (Phillippians 4:10-13). Paul found such contentment because he understood that the only thing that mattered was Jesus (verse 13). As you approach your work, don't let your attitude be determined by anything about your job or your workplace. Instead, rest in Jesus. Let Him be your strength.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Major Milestone

This is my 200th post!

I want to thank everyone who has read this over the last 199 posts. Thank you for the comments, both on the blog and to me personally. I have some posts that I'm really happy with, but there are always a few that felt rushed or uninspired. So thanks for sticking with me through those. I really appreciate everyone's support.

This began because I realized that I don't always think about God throughout the week as much as I should. I have to say that, as much as you may have appreciated the posts, I feel like no one could have grown as much from these as I have. Being committed to posting about Christianity in workplaces three times a week means that I'm almost always thinking about how my faith relates to work. It's given me a very different perspective about a lot of things.

This blog started with the idea that I'd read through the Bible and note passages relating to work. I did that, and since then, I've been posting about things that have occurred to me as I've re-read passages, heard sermons, or come across relevant scriptures. I'm always looking for ideas, so by all means, if you have a question or passage that's particularly meaningful to you at work, please feel free to share.

Thanks again for reading. Here's to the next 200.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Perspectives, Both Wrong

I was reading "God on Monday" by Benny Tabalujan, and he made a great point about early views on sacred and secular work. An early church leader, Eusebius, wrote about work in two tiers--religious work was at a higher tier and secular work was at a lower tier. Thus, the truly "good" Christians would leave secular jobs (or never enter them to begin with) and seek out religious work in monastic orders and convents. This was the dominant view until the Reformation (and still persists today).

Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders went to the other extreme. Perhaps you've heard of the "Protestant Work Ethic." They emphasized that all work glorified God. That wasn't inherently bad. The problem was that work became an end in itself, rather than a means to honor God. The truly "good" Christians were those that worked harder and longer than everyone else and thus achieved material success. That attitude is also prevalent today.

The truth is somewhere in between these two positions. There is no distinction between secular and sacred work--both are opportunities to honor God. But work itself isn't the goal. Neither is career success, wealth, or acclaim. The goal of everything in our lives, including work, should be God.

Monday, September 12, 2011

You Think You Have It Bad?

Habakkuk is an interesting prophet. Besides having a name that's fun to spell, he really had a rough life. He was a farmer, and he complained to God that his livelihood was failing (3:17-18). No fig buds. No grapes. No olives. The fields produce no food. No sheep or cattle. Everything is going down hill.

Maybe that's how things are going where you work. Losing accounts. Less profitability. Being audited. Facing layoffs. Increased competition.

Look at Habakkuk's response in verse 18: "yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God, my Savior."

Your response when things go bad says a lot about your faith. It's easier to honor God when things go well than it is to honor Him when things seem at their worst. But true faith doesn't depend on circumstances.

Friday, September 9, 2011

God's Grace to You, Your Grace to Others

The most popular post in the last three months is this one about grace. Here's another along a similar line of thought that was also well-read. It's pretty gratifying that the most read posts are so central to what God is all about.

We like checklists, and it would be easy if Christianity in general, and Christianity at work specifically, could be reduced to a checklist. The problem is, of course, that we can never be perfect at taknig care of the things on that list, and God expects perfection. Talk about a demanding boss! That's why His grace is so important. Jesus reduces our checklist to one thing--Himself. So respecting your supervisor, loving your coworkers, watching what you say, keeping God's perspective, etc., it's all about making Jesus the lord of your life. He takes care of the rest.

Just as we've been shown so much mercy, God wants us to show mercy to others. I think the parable of the unmerciful servant is one of the most convicting parts of Jesus' message. God has forgiven us so much. Others may offend us, but the offense is very minor compared to our offense toward God.

Mercy and grace aren't particularly popular concepts in workplaces. But they are part of our calling as Christians.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16

When we read the Beatitudes, we often stop after verse 12. But the next verses are an important point about why Jesus was telling His followers to be different:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Being poor in spirit, meek, and peace-making set you apart from those around you. When you show mercy to coworkers, subordinates, or anyone else, you stand out as different. You are being salt and light.

Too often, we hide our faith "under a bowl" at work. We praise God on Sundays but try to fit in with everyone else on Mondays. Don't lose your saltiness. Put your faith on a stand. Let others know what you believe and why Jesus is your Savior.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor, but not too much

God created Adam to work! When God was busy creating the heavens and the earth, His plan was always for humanity to work taking care of His creation. Adam wasn't put into the garden to live a life of idleness—Genesis 2:15 explains that Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to tend to the garden (the real “oldest” profession). Just a few verses earlier, Genesis notes that, after creation but before humanity, “there was no one to work the ground” (2:5). Adam wasn't created to be lazy—he was made to work! Working is part of our nature. What I mean by that is that work is as much a part of being human as our heart or our need to breathe.

Ironically, many of us are celebrating our labor with a day off today. And that's great! Because just as God created us to be working, He also created us to need rest. God rested on the 7th day, not because He was tired, but because His work was finished and He wanted to show us how to pause, how to stop. Sabbath was about taking time away from work to be with family and worship God.

It's important to see work in terms of balance. If we are able to work, God expects us to do so. But He also created us to need rest. The balance is key.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I head the words "wise" and "wisdom" a lot. "That was a wise move just then." "Your decision showed a lot of wisdom." What do those words really mean? Most of the time, people mean something like "you really made that decision anticipating the consequences" or "that decision is likely to have good outcomes." Interestingly, James 3:14-16 talks about how worldly wisdom is often tainted by envy or selfish ambition. The executive who wisely chose friends to help him/her climb the corporate ladder. The coworker who wisely chose not to trust others in the office.

In the context of this passage, wisdom means something very different than what we often think. James begins in verse 13 by explaining that wisdom is evident from good deeds and humility. We could probably conceed the "good deeds" part. But when have you ever associated humility with wisdom? But then look at verses 17-18. James goes on to say that wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive... I don't know about you, but I'm not sure how often I've heard those words associated with saying someone is wise.

Wisdom is about taking knowledge and applying it to situations in which you find yourself. Wisdom from the world takes knowledge from the world's perspective, which is focused on self, and applies it to decisions. Wisdom from God takes God's perspective, which is focused on Him and on others, and uses that knowledge to approach situations.

How will you be wise next week? As you think about work, where can you be purer? Where can you bring peace? How can you be considerate to others? In what ways will you be submissive to your boss? How can you show mercy to others, especially those who report to you or are further down the hierarchy?