Spiritual Resources > Spiritual Disciplines and Practices > Workplace Spirituality
About half of US people surveyed said they prayed about work or their colleagues. This goes hand-in-hand with the growing part of the work force that views their job as part of their vocation. They are finding meaning in their work. This is becoming more true of Europe as well (though still a small trend), and some Asian traditionshave tended to think this way. Many of us find it hard to find meaning in our work, and never really get to feeling like they belong there. That may be just our usual grousing and griping. Or it may also be due to being kept down by those of another ethnic group or social class. (In that case, the first thing to do is to do what you're doing as well as you can, and that can become the vehicle for other things thereafter.) Most often, though, the dissatisfaction comes from the fact that they really are not where they belong and are not doing what they're best at or are called to be doing. (In that case, find out what your calling is or at least where your passions are.) Work is not a curse, but a blessing, since by it people make an income and thus are not a burden for others to bear. We work to live, but don't live to work. People often identify people by a profession (for example, Jesus' father is identified as a carpenter or builder), but we are each more than that, not just in God's eyes but in fact. Work does not solve all your problems, it just changes what some of them are.
One of the problems with the word 'vocation' is that few people understand what it means. The few who speak of 'vocation' take it in a Roman Catholic sense, where it means, more than anything else, priests and those in religious orders. (The word 'calling' has the same problem in Protestant circles; to say it is to ask "are you being called to ordained ministry?") What vocation really means is that you are doing what God has led you to do, through your faith, your abilities, and your gifts. In that way, work becomes a part of following Christ. If so, then doing your best at it and doing it in a Christlike manner, whatever it is, makes it a vocation. Even if you are a minister.
Many of Spirithome's users send me e-mails asking all sorts of questions about how to be spiritual and Christian in their workplace and with their colleagues, questions about :
To be honest, much of this is way out of my ken. But it's not beyond God, nor the Christian faith. Most Christians of the past tried to stay away from some of these matters, but that has led to the feeling that Christianity was out of touch with the real world of daily life, much of which was spent on the job.
links on praying ceaselessly, praying evangelistically, and on scheduling prayer throughout the day.
God worked to create the universe. It took skill, knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and diligence to do it. Then, God didn't stop and say, "now, go off and operate on your own", as Deists think. God continues to give the created universe power and direction. In Genesis, God created human beings in the divine image -- trusting us with some of the same abilities that it took to create the world and keep it going. Since God gave us those abilities, we are responsible for its use. Whether it's lifting or digging or thinking or processing paperwork or entertaining or caretaking, when we work, we're using the abilities God gave us for shaping and protecting the world we live in. (This is one of the many reasons it's a sacrilege to sit still for discrimination and mass unemployment -- peoples' abilities are not put to use.) See work as a way to serve God and humanity by making your part of it better in any way you can. In that way, God's purposes for you are not stymied, but fulfilled.
Also, if God has tasks for you to do here as a part of God's work on earth, then what can be said for someone who does not take physical care of themselves? Or doesn't bother to do anything or learn anything? Or keeps trying to change what they aren't able to change or influence? Or lets work overwhelm the time they spend with family? We are to build ourselves up spiritually, physically, educationally and emotionally, so we can live our lives and do our tasks to the fullest. That's not mere "workplace spirituality" - it's a way of living, done in the light of the Gospel, on and off the job.
Bearing witness for Christ at work has a lot to do with doing your work itself right :
A lot of the spirituality of work comes from simply living the way the Lord and the apostles taught us to live all of life. This is drawn from Scriptures that were not directly about work, but teach us the right character. For instance, in Titus 2:9-10, the character of a Christian shows in :
I've heard many people express their bitterness at office politics (including myself). So much can happen that really hurts people. But there is a way to help you get another perspective on them: pray for each of them. God loves them, too, even if you find them hard to love. Try it at home before you go to work, or on the train. Also, think of the people you work with who are not part of your office or workshop: try praying before scheduled appointments or meeting, or before picking up the phone, that the meeting or call will actually accomplish something good. (I know -- meetings almost never accomplish anything. But with God, even that is possible.)
In today's world, we've all seen or heard about enough examples of professional misbehavior that most of us have learned to assume that we should distrust. By being men and women of Christlike character, Christian professionals and workers have the chance to bear a unique witness by being worthy of other peoples' trust. It's part of following Christ in the everyday world. When we do right by other people, we give them a little bit of Christ's love.
Go here for more on what makes up Christian character.
Check out The High Calling website articles for spirituality on the job.
"Well-done is better than well-said."
----- Benjamin Franklin
"To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the
present is like threading a needle."
----- Walker Percy, *Lancelot*, p.235
"He who considers his work beneath him will be above doing
----- Alexander Chase
"Those who rhapsodize about the joy of labor are likely to
be persons who are not obliged to do much of it."
----- Karl Menninger
"Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be
----- Proverbs 16:3
"Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing
----- J.M. Barrie
"It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work.
Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall,
driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God glory
if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to
Communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dung
fork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give him glory too.
He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they
----- poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, *The Principle or Foundation*
"Of all today's miracles, the greatest is this: to know
that I find Thee best when I work listening, not when I am
still or meditative or even on my knees in prayer, but when I
work listening and co-operating."
----- literacy leader and missionary Frank Laubach, in *Learning the Vocabulary of God* (Upper Room, 1956), pp. 22-23.
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|ver.: 25 March 2012
Workplace Spirituality. Copyright © 2001-2012 by Robert Longman.