Last week I got to spend some time with Ryan Wall, Director of City Engagement at Watermark Community Church, and we talked a lot on how God views our work. It was encouraging to hear a pastor thinking about the intersection of faith & work and how he hopes that more pastors will start entering into this conversation through organizations like Made To Flourish. Ryan recently came on staff at Watermark, after spending the last 10 years in the marketplace focused on developing or consulting with early stage technology companies. Additionally, Ryan has been active with one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the country at the University of Oklahoma and the Young Professionals Policy Committee at the Dallas Regional Chamber.
It is typically thought that most spiritual growth and experiencing of God in worship happens at church. But, if this is true, why would God have it that we spend so much time away from church? He pointed out that the average person will spend more time at work in the next two weeks (at least 80 hours) than at a weekend church service over the next year (78 hours- 52 weeks/1.5 hours each) This begs the question, if we spend so much time working, can that time also be spiritually forming, soul nourishing, worshipful of God, and altogether good?
It depends on our worldview. Yes, if we have a proper view that work, as in all aspects of life, are an opportunity to worship God. No, if we make work an object of worship instead of a form of worship--that is idolatry. No, if we think our work is not something that God is calling us to and that we, in some way, are on the spiritual B-team.
Since we spend so much time at work, then what characteristics of faithfulness at work can we develop and display? Ryan said that Amy Sherman’s Kingdom Calling combined with his time studying in a fellowship program this year has helped him develop 6 characteristics of faithfulness. There may be more, and we only talk about a few of these characteristics on Sunday mornings typically, but all 6 have a profound impact on your work and the value it has.
They are as follows….
Excellence - doing your work well unto the Lord seeking to please him.
Ethics - living with integrity and displaying righteousness that comes from Christ.
Evangelism - sharing the good news with others through the work environment
Experience - getting to relish in God, joyful in praise and thanksgiving through the activity of work and the results of it.
Enrichment - spiritual formation through work experiences.
Economics - recognizing that what we do contributes to the common good of our community.
Let’s break these down one at a time...
Excellence. Are we working for God or for man? Who is our boss? Do we go beyond the call of duty to display a level of work that honors God, or do people think of us as lazy and unprepared? Let us spur one another on towards good deeds at work that make others recognize skills and talents beyond our personal ability, and give Him honor for it. This means managing your money well and providing a good quality product or service at an appropriate price.
Ethics. Practically everyone has borrowed something from the office or used company time to check Facebook, Craigslist or hundreds of other distractions that steal time from corporate. Some friends have had to say no to bosses who wanted to take clients to inappropriate places. Others have been put in the middle of deals that became questionable and had to fire themselves so as to live ethically. Whether small or large challenges, the workplace is full of opportunities to practice and exemplify Christ like attitude and ethics.
Evangelism. Do you have a chance to share Jesus at work? Some people emphasize words, while others emphasize service. The key is action. It is not either/or, but both/and. We need to live out our faith with the way we love folks well and the actions we take, but pre-evangelism is not evangelism. We need to declare early and often that we are Christ-followers but without forcing our views on someone.
Experience. Does the work you do stir your affections for God? Does it cause you to adore Him? Could it, if viewed through a different set of lenses? When I see God work in the life of a client or hear Him encourage a co-worker through me, I truly experience Him and grow in my thankfulness.
Enrichment. Growing in faith as you prepare for a big speech, in patience as you deal with a trying employee, and in grace as you manage others are all daily opportunities for Him to be forming you into what He wants you to be. How do you respond when you make the deal? When you lose it? When you get the promotion or lose your job? How we respond when things go our way and when they don’t, are all opportunities for us to develop spiritually. Often, these lessons can speak to us even more than listening to a sermon.
Economics: Are you contributing to the flourishing of society around you and the common good. If you are doing the first 5 and yet fail in this area, I encourage you to carefully consider if you are honoring God or not. How are the products and services you offer creating or extracting value from the community?
Why would you want to spend 2,000+ hours a year doing something (50 weeks x 40hrs a week) and not get the full experience out of it that God intended? With that in mind, which of these 6 characteristics could you emphasize while you are working this week?