Yesterday was my first day back to work and, honestly, I was a little anxious to see how it would go. I got up in the morning knowing I would definitely need to spend some alone time with God to find the peace that I’m realizing only comes from Him. As I read through Philippians 2, I began to tear up in the quiet of the dawning morning hours. The most poignant moment was that as I finished rereading the chapter for the second time, the first few rays of sunshine rushed through the high open windows behind me. I knew God was about to seriously answer some prayer.
I’ve written and spoken with a few people about this before, but I was reminded that my job is not merely a 9–5 pastime. While my day job does not ultimately define me, it is a major part of who I am on a day-to-day basis. So it follows that I should treat it with this degree of importance. It is far more than a means, a paycheck; my job will become a significant portion of how I spend my life for the foreseeable future. Therefore, how I view it and my time there is gravely important.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” — Philippians 2:4–8
As God has pointed out to me countless times before, work is not about me. My time at work is about working for the benefit of those around me. It could be working a few extra hours during the week to get that report to your stressed manager or boss. Maybe it’s an encouraging comment to a coworker or subordinate. It could even be smiling at someone you don’t directly work with as you pass them in the hallway. If there is anything the past year has taught me, it is that these efforts rarely go unnoticed. And, let’s face it, most of these don’t take much time or effort.
One of America’s secondary mottoes must be, “Fake it ’til you make it.” This is precisely where our efforts are most likely to fall flat. If not immediately, soon your forced smiles and fake acts of kindness will be realized for what they truly are and you will merely find yourself just as empty as before, if not more so. Kindness of this sort is merely a cult, portraying the mechanics of worship but severely lacking the heart and intent of worship. I feel this is worse than not doing anything as people begin to distrust you, hindering the future of your working relationships.
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life,” — Philippians 2:14–16a
This, also, is a matter of the heart behind our actions. I think that’s what Paul’s trying to get at here once again. We need to be out there at work and in the world wearing our hearts on our sleeves, hearts that are desiring to rejoice in the love and grace showered upon us daily. We need to shine brightly that love and grace in the world (cubicle, meeting room, office, etc.) around us through our actions and words. I use this order, because without action, words are hypocrisy, yet sometimes words are truly necessary to supplement action. Wherever you spend the workday, that is your mission field. That is where you are called to be a light in the world.
Seeing the rays of light pass through the clouds driving to work reminded me that I am a light in this world, but that light is not for my solitary benefit. A light is only good when it illuminates the darkness around it, otherwise it is darkness itself. Herein lies the question today. Will we continue to work wearing the blinders of self-absorption or will our work lives resemble the missions efforts that we are so keen on being sent and funding? Isn’t your financial support already being provided for this missions trip?