May 25, 2016 • Life for Leaders
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”
In yesterday’s devotion we focused on the command of the angel to John, “Worship God!” (22:9). I pointed out that the biblical verb translated here as “worship” means, literally, to bow down in submission, as before a human sovereign. From a biblical point of view, when we worship God truly, we offer ourselves to God completely. At the core, worship is submitting our whole lives to God.
When we worship God with all that we are, then we are prepared to give ourselves wisely and well to our work, as well as to other worthy endeavors.
The episode in Revelation 22:8-9 reminds us of the danger of worshiping something or someone other than God. John was so impressed by the angel who had revealed the glorious vision to him that John bowed down in worship before the angel. Immediately, the angel rebuked John because the angel was “a fellow servant” with him (22:9). God alone is worthy of our worship. Thus, the angel said, “Worship God!” (22:9).
You and I may not be tempted to worship an angel if we saw one, but we are easily tempted to worship other beings or other things. Remember, worship is not mainly a matter of saying special things to someone. Rather, it is offering ourselves fully to someone or something. If we keep this sense of worship in mind, we might realize that we can easily worship people or things other than God.
It is tempting, for example, to offer ourselves completely to our work. This is more than valuing our work or working very hard. Rather, it is making work Number 1 in our lives. It is letting the agenda of work govern our lives. It is putting work ahead of family, friendship, and faith. We will probably not literally bow down before our work, but our priorities, calendars, values, relationships, and dreams can reveal that we have indeed given ourselves mainly if not completely to our work.
I am not saying that we should not invest ourselves in our work or that it is wrong to do our best at work. In fact, our work can be an expression of worship. But for this to happen, we need to follow the admonition of the angel and “Worship God,” not our work. We need to give ourselves fully to God and do our work as an expression of this fundamental devotion. In fact, when we worship God with all that we are, then we are prepared to give ourselves wisely and well to our work, as well as to other worthy endeavors.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of times in your life when you have given yourself mainly (or completely) to your work? If so, what led you to this? If not, what has kept you from this?
How might your work life be different if you were giving yourself completely to God and working as an expression of this commitment?
What helps you to give yourself to God most of all?
Gracious God, I do sense in my own heart a tendency to be like John when it comes to my worship. Not that I worship angels or literally bow to other things or beings. But it is so easy for me to put things other than you first in my life. This is especially true for me when my work is engaging, challenging, and demanding. It is easy for me to structure my life around work as my #1 priority.
So, forgive me, Lord, when I displace you. Help me, I pray, to give myself completely to you, even and especially when my work is engaging, challenging, and demanding. May my devotion to you give shape to my life and guide me each day in all I do, including my work.
May my life give all glory, honor, and praise to you. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.