Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Question For My Christian Brothers and Sisters:

How does your faith relate to your work? 
More thoughts to help you process:
Did it affect the type of work that you do? 
Does it affect the way you do the work?
How does it redefine your works significance?
How do you think the work that you do, how you do it, and it’s significance change if your life was void of your faith?


SparkyT said...

I don't know if you want my personal application, or what I think we should do as followers of Christ, so I'll just say what I do, and infer that everyone should do it like me. :-P

My job (Appliance/Furniture Delivery) gives me an opportunity to meet many people a day, provide a service, and then most likely disappear from their lives forever. Those 10 minutes to 2 hours can be very different based purely on my attitude.

For one, I don't let people get under my skin very often. I thank God for giving me the gift of being able to process people rationally and not get offended or annoyed, and I'm proud of it. Of course I'm not perfect (shocker), but how I deal with bad situations reflects what I believe and what I hold as important.

Some guys that I have worked with take grumpy people personally, and if they don't try to retaliate to someone who is rude and unhelpful, they at least do no favors. My day has never been brightened by someone who was mean or rude, and I think that Christ would have us treat strangers as we would treat a friend.

Therefore as a Christian, I try to take disdain and negativity with a smile, vocally appreciate customers who try to help (even when it gives us more work), smile when it's pouring down rain, and be the friendliest, most helpful person that has ever carried a refrigerator up their two flights of stairs. At the least, it's good business. At most.... well, God can use anything. But I think He'd rather use his adopted son as an example to follow rather than one to avoid.

Josh B.

Btw, long time no see, and the fault is mine. We should get together sometime.

Mark Harris said...

Identity and Purpose – OR – Purpose and Identity (how ever you want to put it)

It is very easy for us (especially men) to find and place their identity in their work. Such a portrayal is not Christ-like. Ultimately, our identity should be rooted in Christ. We should work not to bring a fat pay check, gain recognition, or … (you fill in the rest), but to worship and glorify our heavenly Father. The by product of the main purpose (worship and glory) may be a larger pay check or recognition, but it never should be the main reason. If it is we are living in the world and placing our identity in the world and not in Christ. My favorite illustration of this is the car salesman who's response to the infamous question of, "what do you do for living?" is, "I sell cars for the most high God." You see, the car salesman understood the reason and purpose of his vocation. He sold cars to fund his ministry and do the things that God had equipped and prepared him to do.

Discover your purpose and you will find your identity. Discover your identity and you will find your purpose.

Once we understand the why we can answer the how. The why part of the question is black and white, but the how part is relative. If you were to compare my job with Sparky's job the how part would be very different. However, at the heart of the matter is the reality that Sparky and I seek to integrate Kingdom values into our workplace. We do so because we understand our purpose and identity.

One last thought.....

I think that the workplace is the “final frontier”. Why has it taken the church so long to push for faith in the workplace? It's as if faith in the workplace has been pushed behind faith in the marriage, faith in parenting/house, and (to a lesser extent) faith in culture. I honestly want to ask, “why are we even having this conversation?” Our lives should never be so compartmentalized that we lack integration and application of our faith into the specific areas. Unfortunately, that is the battle we are faced with and one we must confront as we work with Christ followers and help them discover that faith and the application of kingdom values in the workplace is not rocket science. It simply comes down to understanding your purpose and identity. Once we discover and do that then the rest should fall into place.

BTW - Long time no see to the both of you. I guess living in California has it's consequences.

Anna said...

My "work" is being a stay-at-home mom. I definitely see it as a vocation from God, and strive to be more patient, gentle, and diligent because of it. I would also say that I can see (some of) the ways in which God himself helps me to be a better mother.

Oddly enough, this is the same theme that Opus Dei is all about. Why they get turned into secret Vatican assassins by conspiracy theorists, I don't know. But "Opus Dei" means "Work of God". It's about seeing your work as part of God's purpose for you, and doing it in the best way you can, for His sake.

DK said...

Wow! I've really enjoyed everyones thoughtful comments!

@Sparky, I loved how tangible your response was. That's really what I have been wrestling through, and you gave me some excellent ideas to get some traction with.

In regard to getting together, you want to go to Trek in the Park? I'm hoping to get some people together. At this point Rob L. is the only other one in. Let's pick a date that works for us all?

@Mark, You talked more about the question, which I appreciate too. :) I, and others in the secular work place, need to wrestle through this question to truly integrate Kingdom values into what has been compartmentalized. Part of the problem is by in large Christian leaders are teachers who are are also largely disconnected from the marketplace.

A book I have been working through hits on this issue, Practice Resurrection. It's a challenging read.

Elena and I are still hoping to stop by on our way down to Disneyland in a couple months. It's approaching fast! We'll be in touch.

@Anna, trust me I was thinking about stay at home moms when I wrote this. I already have another post/question planned for how work that is outside of the marketplace impacted by faith.

I love the Opus Dei insight. That's a great way to put it!

Bill Leslie said...

For many years I successfully separated my work from my faith. The law in America today actively discourages a sharing of faith in the work place.

I came to realize that while I may have been successful at work, I had completely missed the boat spiritually. My work is a gift from God, and given to me that I might share my faith. I work at a company where I can share my faith, and I do. I am neither bashful nor hesitant to declare my faith, and I wouldn't have it any other way, ever again.

DK said...

@Bill, Thanks for sharing your heart and your convication. I love it when Christians are open and honest about their mistakes and their shortcomings. I believe that gives so much more glory to God then trying to maintain a stainless mask.

Would you mind sharing what profession you are in? It would help me understand your perspective more as I wrestle through what faith looks like applied in the marketplace.

ET said...

My faith in Christ is a deep part of who I am - the core part of my being. This is reflected in every aspect of life, especially in the workplace. Recently, in an evaluation, my supervisor said that I have "a core kindness and incredible faith in people that allows you connect with people in a unique way." This "core kindness" and "faith in people" is what she sees, but it is in fact the reflection of the work Christ has done in me. Without submitting my life to Christ and allowing Him to work in me, I would never be able to have a "core kindness." Because of the grace I have been shown, I am able to treat others with grace as well. This happens at work, school, and wherever I go.