Mark: I believe work is important and beneficial, but it isn’t a separated secular or sacred thing that our Christian community has made it out to be. However, work isn’t the end all to be all, so the balance is valuing it correctly.
Tonya: Being industrious, providing for yourself and/or your family, accomplishing something is good for the soul. I feel passionate about my work, because I believe it’s my calling. Even so, it’s not what gives me value. Our ‘doing’ (work), comes out of our “being,” who we are in Christ. So my work gives me satisfaction as it flows from that place.
John: One way I believe we can get unbalanced in our work is by compartmentalizing life in such a way that we leave God out of our work life, like you were suggesting Mark. The person who has not grabbed ahold of the fact that God is with us 24/7 and cares about all details of our lives, will be challenge to stay balanced if God isn’t acknowledged in their work life as well.
Tonya: Colossians 3:23 says, “Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters.” Whether a pastor, a doctor, or a garbage collector, everything we do should be unto God’s glory. All of our work flows from who we are in Christ. Whether our work is our calling or a means to provide, we need to approach it as unto the Lord and that will help us stay balanced.
Mark: I have two thoughts here; “I don’t know how or I don’t want God in the work area of my life. I’ll keep him contained to my religious area.” The other aspect has to do with understanding the idea of sacred versus secular, like Mark was talking about. Maybe that distinction is a myth, and we just need to go do what God has given us to do with the skills we have.
Tonya: That makes me think of Brother Lawrence who talks about practicing being in God’s presence even while doing his work of washing the dishes for the monastery. How do we give God glory in whatever our work is? I think you’re right in saying we as the church have given the wrong idea that if you’re called to ministry it looks one certain way. We are all called to ministry. What does that mean in your everyday work life?
Mark: That leads into another thought that if we view something as “God’s work,” we can do it 24/7 and get out of balance because it is ‘my calling’, it’s sacred. That’s not healthy and particularly in the scenario of when it leads to neglecting your spouse, children or other key relationships. That’s a temptation people can fall into.
John: Is that a misdirection of someone trying to find their identity and worth in their work?
Mark: That’s certainly part of it. They can also be taking on too much responsibility for accomplishing God’s purposes; trying to own too much of it. Other important things in life suffer.
Tonya: I believe this comes from a misguided understanding of priorities. Most of us can spout out the priorities of God>family>ministry/work, but does our time reflect our values? There is often a confusion between what we do for God as being our time with God; creating a false belief that our ministry should be first, because that’s putting God first. Our one-on-one time with the Lord, actually putting Him first, isn’t about our work or ministry for Him. Working to the point we are neglecting important relationships, our body, or our personal time with God is not balanced nor what He asks of us.
John: This circles around the mentality, “it all rests on me.” Someone can take the savior mentality that the success of the company or ministry is all on them and they have to make it happen. That imbalance is another way of squeezing God out.
Tonya: Right, we can feel like that in our coaching practices too, “I have to build this. I have to make this happen, it’s all on my shoulders”.
John: And subtly, we don’t even recognize that we are doing it. There need to be a check on who’s running the ship. “How much control do I have or should I have?” (And how much do I rely on the Lord?)
Mark: There’s a phrase that I read a while back that has stuck with me. “Do what is yours to do and trust God to do the rest.” We can only do so much. Coming to that conclusion is easier for some than others, but if we simply do what is ours to do and trust God to do the rest, then it’s more likely to work out the way He wants it to. It may or may not be what we had laid out, but it will be more aligned with His plan and purpose.
Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (written in 1693)
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say and Do by Paul David Tripp
John Gregory – pastor, coach, writer and musician – https://johngregoryjr.com/
Mark Stanifer – life coach, 20 yrs experience in corporate America, husband, father – https://dare2livecoaching.com/
Tonya Waechter – leadership coach, 22+ years therapy experience, wife, mother – www.tonyawaechtercoaching.com