How to Worship God Loudly in Your Workspace

without anyone getting on your case

It’s been said the Protestant Reformation changed the work habits of Western Civilization.  Indeed, Roman Catholics have a theology of work, but Martin Luther’s views on daily labor were revolutionary.  As much as anyone, Luther was the father of what we call the Protestant work ethic.

Luther reintroduced us to the biblical teaching that we are a kingdom of priests.  Each of us, he taught, can have direct access to God the Father, something that’s been referred to as the “priesthood of every believer.”

This was nothing new.  God said to Moses centuries BC, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6).

In the New Testament, the apostle John returns to this theme:  ” You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).

Mini-intermediaries

But there was more.  Our priesthood as individuals is not just about having personal access to God.  As priests we are mini-intermediaries.  God’s purpose is for us to stand between heaven and earth, to be mediators, not of salvation itself, but of the message of salvation in what we say to and do for others:  “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Jesus adds to this, “You are the salt of the earth …. You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:12-14), and he commands us to go out there into the world and compel others to follow Christ.

Our message, though, isn’t just in what we say, “not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (I Corinthians 2:4).  It’s in what we do, how we serve others.

Just today my path crossed with an extraordinary Christian leader, David Le Shana, who currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.  His son, he told me, while pastoring a local church, raised over $1 million to build a vital bridge in Nepal.  That extraordinary act of love and generosity resulted in the salvation of many people in an area of the world nearly closed to the Christian faith.

Wordless witnesses

Most of you will never build a bridge in Nepal, but you can be a wordless witness wherever your life takes you, which brings us back to the Protestant work ethic.  Luther told his congregants, “You are all priests.  You are all ministers of the gospel.  Look around in the place where you work.  What are are your tools?  What are you building, cooking, creating?  Those pots and pans, those carpenter tools, they are instruments of God, gifts God has given you to serve others.”

That’s a simplification, a paraphrase of history, of course.  But Luther wanted everyone in his church to know that they were no a less a minister than those serving in the robes of the clergy.

Essentially he taught that we are to work for God’s glory and to serve others, which transformed the Western world.  People no longer lived hand to mouth, working only to provide for their own essential needs.  As people worked to honor God and serve others, productivity and wealth rose.

Each year in the fall at Word of Grace, I had special prayer for everyone in the congregation who worked in the often maligned public schools.  My dad was a public school teacher, as were my brothers, and now my son-in-law.  My brother said to me from time to time, “Teaching middle school kids is my ministry.”  As teachers go, he was one of the best.

The tools of your trade

What about you?  What are the tools of your trade?  What opportunities do you have to use your work as service to others?  Paul wrote, ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).

Did you know that the word “vocation” comes from the Latin vox, or voice?  Your vocation is your calling. For the Christian, there is no such thing as secular work.

In the “secular” world, people work for income and identity.  In God’s world, our identity is not in our success, our position in life.  It’s in Christ.  Furthermore, we do not believe that our job, our business is our source of income.  God is the one who provides, which by the way is why Proverbs teaches us to give our “firstfruits” back to God to acknowledge the blessing comes from the Lord, not just from the work of our hands.

My dear friend and colleague, Church Fitzgerald, has an extraordinary story of influence and promotion.  His secret?  He wrote this to me recently:

During my former career as a sales professional, I always chose my office space based on its proximity to the front door.  While my colleagues wanted a private workspace, a quiet and hidden place away from people, I wanted to be as near as possible to our customers.  My reasoning was simple.  I believed that the closer I was to our customers, the more I could be of service to them.  This was a very successful strategy for me.

Today in my role as the Faith-based and Community Initiatives leader for the State of Arizona, I still find myself wanting to be nearest my customers.  You’re not in sales?  Hey, we all have customers!  Yes, my wife, my children, my boss, my friends, my co-workers, co-members of boards of directors, neighbors, the needy.  They’re all my customers!  They are all people God has given me to serve!

I’ve tried hard to understand why my view of “the customer” is not shared by many people. I’ve read books about success in business, and I’ve spent time in seminars listening to experts,  But for me, my personal philosophy of work is simple:  I view my work as service to others.  In fact, I view my entire life as service.

Through my work, whether as a sales professional, or now as a public servant working in state government, God has always provided my family with our basic needs—and more than enough other stuff!  We have been more fortunate than so many others, and we are very grateful for this.  In my sales career, my primary motivation was money.  My primary motivation today is simply “how can I be of service to you?”

My old belief: It’s all about me.

My new belief: It’s all about you.

Often my view of work as service seems contrary to what I see in my friends and colleagues.  So why is it so right for me?  Why do I approach others with an attitude that says, “I’m not here to get something from you; I’m here to serve you”?

For me the answer in deeply rooted in my relationship with God.  I sense his love and grace daily, and I believe passionately that my primary responsibility is to pass it on.  To continually give it away.  To continually give myself away.  The more I give of myself to others, the more it comes back to me.

I believe there is a very special and meaningful place of service for everyone who wants it.  God is ready to fill everyone with his love and grace, to fill them to the point of overflowing.  All we need to do is ask for it.

Serving people is serving God.  Loving people is loving God.

Serving is loving.

This entry was posted in Spiritual Life. Bookmark the permalink.