Written by Andrew Laird, Australia
Andrew works in Australia for City Bible Forum and is the National Manager of their Life@Work program which aims to help Christians connect their faith with their daily work. He is the author of two books about work, including Under Pressure: How the Gospel Helps Us Handle the Pressures of Work. He is the former Dean of Ridley College’s Marketplace Institute, and he also has a background in radio journalism. He lives in Melbourne, is married to Carly and has three young children. He’s not ashamed to admit he’s a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) and loves getting out on his road bike.
A new year often brings with it a renewed focus (and maybe even resolutions) for how we want to live differently this year. And this is a good thing! Even though the timing is arbitrary, it’s great to have built into our calendars an annual opportunity to stop, reflect, and prioritise how we want to live in the year ahead.
But how much of your thinking about the new year is related to your work? I’ll admit for me it has been more about diet, exercise, and other disciplines! And yet most of us will spend most of our waking hours in 2022 working (whether it’s paid or unpaid labour). So, it makes sense we should pause for at least a moment to think about what priorities we want to have in our working lives this year.
Here are three suggestions to get your thinking started:
1. Go with God
We make a terrible mistake (and set ourselves up for a year of challenges and difficulties) if we don’t go into our daily work with God. Indeed, there’s a sense in which we don’t even bring Him into our daily work, because He’s already there; our job is to get on board with what He is doing!
Practically what does this mean?
At the very least, it means saturating our work in prayer and bringing all our efforts and labours before His throne. This doesn’t need to be long (although setting aside quality time every now and then to pray about your work is not a bad habit), but a good rhythm would be to pray briefly at the start, in the middle, and at the end of the day.
And not in the sense of “God, help me achieve this in my work today”, but rather “Father, help me to see how your Spirit is at work in my workplace, how You might be using my work for the good of others and Your glory. Enable me to align my values and priorities with what You are doing”.
It can also be more specific, such as, “Father, I’ve just made a mistake. Help me to be honest about it, and handle the consequences in a way which honours you”. Or as a difficult colleague approaches you, you can say a quick prayer such as, “God, give me the grace and patience I need to respond as you would to this person”.
2. Go with others
We make a mistake if we go about our work alone. God has made us to be part of a body, and so we should embrace the body of Christ in our daily labour. While you may not know of any other Christians in your workplace, that is no reason for us not to practice this.
This means not simply praying the above prayers alone, but also praying them with others! Find a small group of two or three other Christians (either in your workplace, or church, or elsewhere) and pray in this way for one another. In doing that, you will also create opportunities to share with one another the joys, struggles, challenges and opportunities in the workplace and seek each other’s counsel and wisdom for how to approach these situations as a follower of Jesus.
3. Go for others
It’s good to remind ourselves at the start of each working year who we are there for—namely, others. That is, the point of work for the Christian person is not ultimately self-serving (what can I gain out of work for me) but rather serving others (how can I give to others through my work).
This will mean simple things like doing our work well and not cutting corners so that our work serves people rather than creating more work for them.
Or it can mean keeping to deadlines, and responding promptly to people’s requests, or simply following through on what we say we will do, so that the work of others isn’t frustrated by our laziness or delays that are within our control. And perhaps surprisingly, many people can testify to the fact that work becomes more enjoyable when we work this way, and more sustainable too, than when we are constantly in it for ourselves, frantically pursuing our own agenda and interests.
Why not take some time now to reflect on how and where your work priorities might have shifted in the last year to a focus on self, rather than on others? Then commit those areas to God, asking Him to enable you to focus on others this year through your work. In doing so, we demonstrate a powerful witness to our colleagues of the Saviour we follow—the One who did not come to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45).