Building a Trellis (Rule of life) – Week 4: Work
This last message in the Reconnect series explored the bucket in our Rule of Life we call “Work”.
As a reminder, this bucket of Work is meant to include all work that we have on our plate: paid (job, part-time or full-time) and unpaid (school work, housework, homeschooling, raising children, caring for elderly parents) – things we have to do. This week’s blog works through some of the ideas and questions we need to wrestle with in order to develop a rule of life that works for work.
Remember: We need a rule of life to rescue us from seeing work as a curse (where we avoid thinking about it, and just endure it) – since we can’t just ignore something that we will do for 100,000 hours in our lifetime! We also need a rule of life to rescue us from being obsessed with our work – stressing, laboring, over-investing, to the neglect of the other aspects of life (Rest, Prayer, Relationships).
Note: Use the worksheet below as a draft for what can go in each bucket of your Rule of life. If you need a refresher on what a Rule of Life is, go back to week 1 of this blog.
Before you start, have a look at this really helpful video…
Day 1 – Jesus, heal me!
The message explored the idea that we are meant to engage in all/any work we have to do as a “Steward”, not an “Owner” or a “Slave”.
Owner mindset: We can be gripping our work too tightly – thinking that it’s up to us to nail it, do it perfectly, ace the exams, crush the project or climb the ladder. We can be holding it tightly trying to control outcomes, gain recognition, acquire wealth or have more influence/power. But that is how an owner responds to work: “it’s up to me”, “This is about me”, “this is mine”.
Slave mindset: We can also see ourselves simply as units of productivity; an employee number, a cog in the wheel. We can feel used and manipulated by our job, our boss or our industry/company. We feel drained and beaten down, not enjoying or finding fulfillment in our work. We can come by this honestly – perhaps that’s how our boss or industry or employee treats us.
Jesus, heal me! We need to be healed from these mindsets. Part of Jesus’ saving work in your life includes saving you from a mindset that is destructive and broken. He can heal us and give us a new perspective on what it means to be a steward.
The passage we looked at this past weekend was from Colossians, and it put forward the revolutionary idea that Jesus (not our company, not our boss, not our industry, not our degree program or professor) is our boss.
Colossians 3.23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving
Read this passage slowly a few times. Repeat the prayer “Jesus, I’m working for you” a few times.
Take a few moments to pray a prayer of confession – admitting to any of the ways you have seen yourself as an owner or a slave. Invite Jesus to heal you of any of the wounds that this has caused in your life – anxiety, stress, fear, bitterness, anger or a poor self-image.
Ask him to help you begin to understand what it means to be a steward – to have your hands open in terms of the work He has given you to do.
Conclude with 2 mins of silence. Ask God to speak anything to you he wants you to know or hear.
Day 2 – Take your God to work
God worked with his hands and created the world (see Genesis 1 & 2 if you need a reminder). Jesus worked with his hands – both as a carpenter, and then feeding people, healing people, befriending people and blessing people. There is no kind of work (unless it’s immoral or criminal) that isn’t important to God. It all matters to Him. It’s all “holy”.
This means that not only are we working for the Lord Jesus, we are working with Him. He is present in everything we do, working alongside us. Today we are going to do some imaginative prayer to make this truth more real to our hearts and minds.
Picture your place of work. Maybe it’s the desk you sit at or the classroom you’re in. Maybe it’s the storefront, office, shop floor or neighbourhood. Maybe it’s your kitchen table. Ask Jesus to show you where He is in your place of work. As you see Him, what’s the look on His face? Is he calling your attention to a particular location or person in your place of work? If He is, ask Him why? Now think about the tasks, people or issues that cause you the most stress or frustration at work. Ask Jesus to help you with them. Ask Him if there’s anything you need to see or realize about these things/people.
Close your prayer time asking Him to make you more regularly aware of His presence in your place(s) of work.
Day 3 – Prepare to work
One of the questions we considered in populating our Work bucket of the Rule of Life is “what can I do daily to prepare myself for my work/school?”
Here’s one way you could do it:
Read slowly through Psalm 8:
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
what is a human being that you are mindful of him, / a son of man that you care for him?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This Psalm reminds us not only that God made everything we see around us, but that He entrusted us with caring for it. The Psalmist also notes that it is an awesome and gracious gift of God that He would place us, as human beings, above all the rest of creation.
Thank God today for whatever and whoever He has put under your care. This should include the work you have responsibility for, the family members you care or co-care for, the people who report to you or the friends and co-workers in whose lives you have influence.
Now think about the work you have in front of you this day? List some of the big tasks or significant conversations or people you will encounter. Ask God to help you bring something new or beautiful out of them. Ask God to help you care well for these things He has created or given you to do. Ask God to remind you that you can and should engage in all your work as an act of worship to “His Majestic name”.
Close with 2 mins of silence.
Day 4 & 5 – Key questions for your Work bucket
This past weekend’s message gave some specific questions to ask and engage with to help you fill out the work bucket in your Rule of life. Take some time over these days to prayerfully consider these questions – i.e. to talk with God about them.
- How can I include God and his love more in my work? Work – the whole rule of life actually – is meant to be built around receiving and giving the love of God.
- Receive the Love of God: What gifts has God given me through my work?
- Give the Love of God: Who is God calling you to show your love to with your work? This likely doesn’t mean everyone in your class or at your work, but there may be one or two specifically (maybe even in this season) that God has called you to love while you work.
- What is my daily habit of preparation for my work (paid/unpaid) or school?
- Is there a specific activity (5 mins of prayer or silence, listening to Lectio365 app or a worship song on the way to work) I can build into my day to help me prepare for work?
- If I’m staying at home with kids, it could be asking my spouse to prayer for me and my day before he/she leaves for their work
- What boundaries do I need to put in place when it comes to my work?
- What do I need to do to focus more on my work/school?
- What distractions should I eliminate?
- How do I decide what to say yes or no to?
- If I’m married, I need to include my spouse in this process.
- What do I need to say no to?
- What unpaid work can bring me joy?
- What ways can I use my gifts and opportunities in my church family
- How can we redistribute work at home?
- Who needs to do more/less work?
- If I share a house with roomates, spouse or children, have we had a good discussion about who does what around the house?
- What do I need to do to focus more on my work/school?
Once you’ve made your draft list in your work bucket, pray and ask God to help you refine it, and grow through it.