by Dave MacFarlane
The working world can become a tiring place for any follower of Jesus.
Not only is there the usual expectation of doing an excellent job, but added to that is a seeming latent pressure to ‘be salt and light’ to our colleagues.
If you’re like me, some days I don’t want to get out of bed - never mind ‘embody a spirit of excellence’ and ‘reflect Jesus’ to the world around me.
So what to do?
Well, you’ll be pleased to know, Jesus has done much of the thinking on this on our behalf.
First, He clearly instructs us that we cannot work to receive His favour. He gave us His full approval when He died for us - and when we place our faith in Him, we can work from a place of full freedom.
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:30)
i.e. He’s not the one producing this pressure described above. If work feels a drag, how are you giving your burdens to Him, recognising the freedom He already gives you?
This is great, and it gets better.
Jesus wants to speak to us daily about all areas of our lives, and certainly our work.
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
If you place your faith in Him, you’ll be sure to hear Him.
He speaks directly to us today. Why would He take the trouble of dying, to restore a broken relationship with us, and then subsequently leave us on our own? This wouldn’t make sense.
Here are 3 ways in which I’ve found this to be life-changing for our work:
1. He’s given instructions: He speaks through the Scriptures
How do you find opening your Bible? If you’re like me, some days or seasons are better than others. But if it truly is the word of God, can we afford to leave it closed?
Like the numbered instructions of an IKEA furniture guide, it truly does show us how to build our lives. Many things are hard to understand, but if we want to have healthy working lives - we need the wisdom that’s inside.
2. He speaks directly to us when we listen - He loves to guide us
I practise this every day by drawing a spider diagram and praying about my priorities for the day ahead.
After several years of doing this, I have countless stories of how this has helped my own work, and helped me to support and impact colleagues and organisations.
The main thing here is giving God the time to do this. 10 minutes a day makes an epic difference.
3. He speaks through the family of believers - We’re not on our own
Jesus goes about life with a team, His disciples. This shows us we’re not designed to go at anything alone.
Can you find ways to pray regularly with your church or small group about your work? And if you can, could you gather a handful of believers in your workplace, pray for and give words and encouragement to each other?
My work is regularly impacted by prayers and words from others, can you do that for those around you? And them for you?
In right relationship with Jesus, work is a joy!
Yes, it doesn’t always feel this way, but this is more to do with the ‘relationship with Jesus’ part, not the circumstances of our work.
I often fail at this bit, forgetting to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:18).
I pray you do better at this than me!
Ephesians 2:10 says:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
Friends, He’s prepared good work for us. He’s set us in a family alongside whom we can wrestle these things out together, and He speaks to us and leads us into all wisdom.
Jesus invites us to enjoy our work.
Simply because the pressure is not on our shoulders to perform. When we focus on Him more than the circumstances around us, we quite easily shine. Being people of peace and wisdom, and sought after colleagues as such.
Don’t be discouraged by a feeling of latent religious pressure to perform. Jesus isn’t interested in this. His invitation to live and work freely alongside Him is always open.
About Dave MacFarlane:
Dave, his wife Sarah and young son Jos live in South Buckinghamshire, where Dave works in Health, Social Care and Community technology. When they're not away enjoying various outdoor hobbies, Dave and Sarah enjoy advising charities and ministries on strategy and growth. When previously a Social Worker in Local Government, Dave and his colleagues established a weekly prayer group that grew quickly and had great impact over a 4-year period. Dave is now an Associate for Transform Work, advising the charity on training, as well as helping other workplace groups become established.