Serving at work

22 March 2014

I wrote about how doing my job well at work and pursuing excellence is something which gives God and us glory and joy. I have stuck on my desktop, the scripture:

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.” – Colossians 3:23-24

But sometimes, if i am to be honest, the reminder alone doesn’t click with me. Especially when i am fighting through the work day and sending emails, typing up stuff that has almost nothing to do with God or anything remotely close to the type of deeds spoken about in the bible. It’s a stretch, to say the least, that i am working for God in those situations. Imagining i am serving God alone cannot take me very far, especially with the pain of longer hours in the office and the nagging feeling that i should be spending my time somewhere else more meaningfully.

However, today i heard a very simple message in a talk which addressed the fundamental flaw in my strive to serve God in the work place. I don’t know if this will make any sense to the reader, but i was always trying hard to imagine that i was serving God alone in whatever i did. I neglected that in reality, i was also providing a meaningful service to my clients (that just somehow felt materialistic and earthly). For some reason, i was downplaying the importance of my client’s needs that i was addressing and seeing them more as needy and unreasonable, ungrateful, pushy people without care of personal boundaries. As you can see, i am not very fond of them. But i think God is trying to change my viewpoint. Yes, not all of them are people i want to spend a lot of time with. But my job is to provide them with a service and they are looking to me to provide a good and reliable service. If my definition of service to God is only limited to serving the poor and lonely, then it is a very limited view perhaps of how God sees service.

The check-out lady in the supermarket can choose to see their work as mundane and pointless (other than for the pay). Customers waiting in line are frustrated and in a rush to get their items paid for. No one really thanks them. But they are providing a service and meeting an individual need each time. True, the company doesn’t really care how much heart they put into it as long as they get it right, but if it came to my turn and she simply gave me a smile and went through my groceries efficiently and accurately, it would have helped me and benefited me and made me happy. She served me well, she fulfilled a need. She was faithful in her work, and i think God honors that and delights in it.   

I need a healthy balance of viewing whom i serve. Ultimately, i believe i am serving God. But service to God comes in many forms and is not necessarily limited to our traditional view of “godly” service. If i can help my clients with my skills, then i am providing a solution to their problems. Whether the problems are corporate and business problems, or whether the problems are more fundamental things to do with food and shelter, in the context of  Colossians 3:23-24, they can equally be of importance. The only caveat is, i do not idolize service, but see it as part of how i live faithfully and lovingly to God. It may not always change my thoughts about work, but it goes some way of making sense of why i do what i do.

Father Lord, thank you for giving me the work i am doing now. I may not always like it, but it is my portion and i know your Word also tells me that work is good. May i be encouraged daily in my work and may you broaden my view of how i see my service at work. Help me find joy in serving my clients as well and in helping them in their needs. Let me have the satisfaction of serving well with my heart. May my heart be with you whatever i do.

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