Spiritual Formation at Work

There is so much written in the ancient scriptures about our work! Paul of Tarsus said, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is not in vain.” -1 Cor 15:58.
I used to think that my “work in the Lord” was just my church work. So, my small business work, or my working at home, or my yard work did not “count” as the kind of work Paul is talking about here. But, my perspective on this has changed.
I’m starting to see that my “work in the Lord” is really about doing all my work – paid, or unpaid – with Him. It is learning to pray with every breath, with every dirty diaper, with every trip to the bank, and with every meeting, “God, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – right here in my work.”
Sometimes I hear people ask, “How can I bring Jesus into my workplace?”  Well, you don’t… because Jesus is already there. Jesus is every bit as present in your M-F job as he is when we gather in worship on Sunday. You will probably spend 40+ hours a week at work on average, and you will probably spend 1-2 hours a week at church. The goal is not to undo in the 1 hour at church everything that happened during the 40+ hours at work. The goal is also not to just increase our time at church. The goal is to learn to be with Jesus 24/7 because he is already there in our work, in our play, and in our worship. He cares about our work in the little “kingdoms” of Comcast, or Target, or Kaiser, or Facebook just as much as he cares about our time at church.  He wants to see the big kingdom of God invade all these little kingdoms on earth.
In fact, our primary place of spiritual formation will likely be at work. Spiritual formation is the process of shaping our thoughts, desires, habits and choices. Everyone – Christian or otherwise – is being spiritually formed all the time. It’s not just an extra-credit deal for the super devoted. It is the most important thing going on. We can participate in our own spiritual formation through our mindfulness of our work as a holy space where God is fully present.
So today, when you go to work, remember that you never do that work alone. Jesus is present with every photo you take, post you make, meeting you attend, and meal you cook. May all that we do be to the glory of God today.

Playing with God…all the time

“Russell, what do you think about God?” I recently asked my almost 4-year old son. He replied, “I like to play with God all the time.”
Oh, from the mouths of children!
It’s moments like these when my children become my teachers. Because, whether Russell intended to say this or not, I heard him saying that he sees God as significant in everything he does throughout every day. So often I tend to think of my life in fragments, little parts of a puzzle that make up a whole. I have my ministry job, my business job, my parenting job…
But what if God wants to be the common link between all of these parts, the integral essence of every activity of my life? What if everything I do – whether preparing a sermon, or registering someone for a Sipping n’ Painting class, or changing my kids’ diapers – became not only an offering for God’s glory but also a partnership between God and me, almost like a play project together?
What if I did all of these things with Him – not just for him – but with Him? What if I were never by myself trying to read (or write) an inspirational book? If I understood God to be with me in that process, might I feel less afraid and more attuned? What if I were never alone facing a bad Yelp review from a guest’s experience at my business? Might I be able to see myself and my work through God’s eyes and be freed from shame to instead embrace fresh creativity and adventure? What if I never saw myself as abandoned with my tired and cranky kids? Would I possibly have better access to patience, strength, and humor? What if God always intended for these kinds of daily realities to be play dates together-between Jesus and me?
How could you and I live differently by taking the apostle Paul’s words to heart when he said, “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
What might the impact on our world be if we, like Russell, viewed God as someone we like to play with all the time-in every dimension of life?