Work as for the Lord

In late 2020, I attended a cesarean birth with my client and her husband. An unexpected complication led to a quick drive to the hospital and a long wait for surgery. As a birth doula, during a c-section I am typically seated near the head of my client, next to her birth partner. I provide moral support for the pair and a hand to squeeze for anyone who needs it. Only inches away on the other side of a sterile curtain, a team of doctors and nurses do their specialized work with fine-tuned precision. From my vantage point, I see only a sea of blue backs and caps. Voices are low, and each person knows exactly where to stand and how to move around the crowded space. Every step is planned and executed, gears turning smoothly in a living machine.

Typically, the anesthesiologist is the only person on our side of the curtain. That early morning surgery was no different, but this time, the man who managed the patient’s anesthesia would leave a lasting impact on me. 

A Perfect Encounter

Hours before we were taken back to the OR, my client and her husband passed the time by creating a careful playlist, a mix of uplifting and sentimental favorites that would be the soundtrack of an unforgettable moment, the birth of their child. A few of their choices were Christian worship songs, and I smiled as I noticed the common faith that I didn’t know we shared. My client noted that I had mentioned “church” in one of our conversations, and the knowledge that I was a believer gave her peace and made her not worry about her song choices surprising me. 

As the selection of music played during the surgery, the anesthesiologist busily did his work. He adjusted dials and gauges here and there, monitored vital signs, shared a few lighthearted jokes, and frequently asked how my client was feeling. A new song selection rang out, and the blessed name of Jesus suddenly filled the room. The anesthesiologist paused and said with a smile, “I approve of this song choice!” He began to sing along under his breath. In his quiet way, he made his belief known, and with those words, he invited himself into the moment. In the most unexpected of places, the four of us had an unanticipated encounter with fellow believers and engaged in a short but heartfelt moment of worship.

Work in a Secular World

According to a study conducted by Barna Group and released in 20181, Christians increasingly reject a “spiritual hierarchy” of employment (for example, the idea that the job of a pastor is more important than that of an accountant). Instead, modern American Christians are more likely to blur the line between secular and sacred work as they embrace a sense of vocation in all work, a belief that various forms of employment outside of traditional ministry can be callings for which God has specifically equipped a person.

Even with a growing sense of vocation among us, many Christians also recognize that outward expressions of faith are often unwelcome in secular workplaces. Teachers in public schools and secular universities could face reprimand for openly preaching the gospel in class. A doctor or lawyer may be frowned upon for giving his or her Christian testimony in a conversation with a patient or client. As an entrepreneur, I have the right to share my spiritual faith, but I am also keenly aware that a major component of my work is to set an expectant family at ease during an intimate and often challenging experience. I must “read the room” with wisdom and care, and introducing details of my personal life is not always the best way to do my job well. 

All Work is for the Lord

Must Christian employees feel constantly at odds between God’s call upon their lives and the expectations of the world? How can a believer work for the Lord under the constraints of a secular environment?

First, take heart in knowing that evangelizing and sharing Scripture are not the only ways in which Christians do their work for the Lord. These are small components in a much larger picture. Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” The word heartily points to industriousness, working with vigor and steadfastness. This word points to consistency and effort. All of these qualities speak to attitude and approach rather than specific tasks. Additionally, we see that our work is done for the Lord. Our purpose should be attached to the Lord’s pleasure, not merely the opinions of our clientele and superiors. Verse 24 continues, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Here we are pushed to look past wordly benchmarks that might be measures of man’s success, and instead, we are meant to look to the Lord for our reward.

Colossians 1:10 reads, “you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Here we see, again, that the manner in which we conduct our work matters to God and is a reflection of who we are in him. In the fruit we produce and the growth we display, we are honoring him. In the workplace, any of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) contribute to a positive environment and build healthier relationships. Certainly, a display of patience could diffuse a tense interaction or a demonstration of self-control could lead to productive teamwork despite heightened emotions. As so often happens, God’s word speaks to the greater spiritual good but does not fail us in the practical matters of living and working in this world.

Opportunities

I hope that the anesthesiologist can be an encouragement to all of us. This medical professional performed his job with excellence. I have no doubt he provides medical care of the highest quality for every patient on his docket, regardless of the music they choose in the operating room. Yet, he selected a subtle comment in a perfect moment to provide comfort and camaraderie, to serve the Lord with his words and actions, while never compromising the expectations of his position. I was moved in that moment, and I immediately thought of the potential opportunities I have in my work to express the truth of the gospel in a world that needs it.

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  1. Quoted in Study: American Christians Are Erasing the Divide Between ‘Sacred’ and ‘Secular’ Jobs, The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter, September 25, 2018.

Links for the Weekend (11/27/2020)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

How to Harm a Heavy Heart

Vaneetha Risner writes about listening to and grieving with friends who are going through difficult times. I appreciated the way she discussed the Christian practice of lament.

Sometimes we aren’t in a setting to lament together through Scripture, but we can apply those principles to everyday conversation. We can invite our friends to talk about their feelings without judgment, beginning the conversation by saying, “This must be so hard. It would have opened a whole host of struggles for me. How are you feeling?” Sharing our own battles and temptations invites others to speak, knowing they won’t be judged.

Our Only Hope In Life and Death

This short, solid reminder about a Christian’s true hope cheered my soul.

This can bring us great comfort, knowing that hope is not lost, that our hope is in Christ alone. We will continue to struggle with the restrictions, but placing our faith in God means we know His promises still stand, that He is sovereign over the world, and that our lives are lived unto Him, every day. 

Should We Expect Our Jobs to Make Us Happy?

We’re all prone to find our identity and happiness in unfit places. Barnabas Piper writes about why our work can’t bear the weight we often want it to.

Work— like many other things in life- is a means of finding happiness. It’s designed by God and is a good thing. It’s a good hook for the right things, but too weak to hold our hopes for total happiness.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

Not this week, but last week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Encourage Those Who Grieve. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (4/3/2020)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

It Takes Theology to Lament

A lament is a biblical prayer that is sadly out of favor these days. But it is just the type of prayer we need when things are not right with us or in the world. Mark Vroegop writes about the theology that is needed in order to lament.

Most laments contain four elements: turn, complain, ask, and trust. Each is designed to move the weary-hearted saint toward a renewal of hope in God’s character, even when dark clouds linger. Turning to God in prayer is the first step. It refuses to allow a deadly prayerlessness to develop. Complaining lays out our hurts in blunt but humble terms. We tell God what is wrong and the depth of our struggles. Asking reclaims the promises of God’s word that seem distant, and it calls upon him to intervene. Finally, all laments end in trust. This is where biblical lament is designed to lead – a faith-filled renewal of what we know to be true.

COVID-19: Living by Probabilities or Providence?

If you’ve been paying a lot of attention to the coronavirus-related statistics in the news recently, this article might be for you. Mike Emlet encourages us to turn our gaze (and our trust) to the Lord.

Sit with these glorious realities for a minute. Read through them slowly. Let them soak into your soul. We don’t live by probabilities and chance. We live under the loving, wise, and sovereign rule of our Creator and Redeemer God. The result of that is true hope, which steers clear of both a naïve optimism or a resigned pessimism.

A Prayer for Working from Home

This is exactly what the title says. You may not think you need such a prayer, but if you’re not used to working from home, I suggest you take a look.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (2/15/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Encouragement for Regular Bible Reading

Over at For The Church, Trevin Wax addresses this important question: “What keeps so many Christians from regularly studying the Bible?” His video answer is filled with wisdom and encouragement to think about the long term benefit of our Bible reading and Bible study disciplines.

7 Tips for Keeping Your Cool When Your Kids Misbehave

I wish I didn’t need this advice, but I do. At the Crossway blog, Sam Crabtree offers some advice for avoiding an explosion of anger when children misbehave.

So, you’ve blown your stack. You admit it. You confess your wrongness to all involved parties. You apologize, asking forgiveness. And you resolve to not be that way again, to not do it again. But there’s the problem. The resolve of our own nature will fail. We need supernatural enablement for change. Overcoming anger requires something humanly impossible, something supernatural. The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for all kinds of people—including angry parents—to be changed into people who yield their expectations to God in service to others, specifically their children.

Sharing Your Faith at Work

Here’s a short article brimming with wisdom. Greg Forster first counsels us to “earn the right to be heard.” He then shares three practical tips. Here’s the second one.

Be patient. Earning the right to be heard takes time. You should not expect evangelistic opportunities quickly. Trust that as you labor faithfully, God will use your track record of excellent performance and humane treatment of people to awaken the hearts of those around you. I have a relative who came to Christ after her retirement; she became convinced Christ was alive after reflecting on decades of seeing Christians do their daily work so differently.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Pastor Don Waltermyer’s article about killing sin. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here.