February 7, 2017 • Life for Leaders
“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began considering the call of Jesus to love God “with all our mind.” We love God, not only through our choices, actions, and feelings, but also through our thoughts. We do this, in part, by thinking about God, considering his excellence, meditating upon his beauty, considering his justice, and concentrating on his truth. In light of this truth, we learn to think in ways that honor God wherever we are, including our workplace.
What might this look like in practice? Let me offer three examples. First, I know many people who consciously set aside times during their workday for thinking about God. Some practice disciplines of regular prayer throughout the day, thus turning their minds to the Lord. Others establish a regular time for reading their Bible during a workplace break. Some folk come early to the office for an hour of corporate prayer or the public reading of Scripture. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that the first thing they do when they get to their office is open up the Life for Leaders devotion of the day and spend a few minutes in prayer. Though the specifics differ, all of these people have established practices that help them think about God in the context of their daily work.
If you’re an hourly employee, I’m not encouraging you to do a Bible study “on the clock,” so to speak. We honor the Lord in our work by being faithful in our relationship with our employer. But, even if you’re paid by the hour, you can find time to think about the Lord before work or during a break. Or, if your work doesn’t require much thought, you might have hours to reflect on God. During my freshman year of college, I worked in a dorm kitchen. My work was quite repetitious and required very little thoughtfulness. I spent much of my time thinking about God or praying, without compromising the quality of my work.
Second, you can love God in your work by thinking about how God would want you to function at work. For example, I was recently talking to an executive who was facing a particularly difficult relational situation at work. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t get a colleague to respond positively to her. This executive was discouraged and considered ignoring her cranky colleague. But she thought about what Jesus would do. She remembered his teaching about walking the second mile. She considered God’s grace in her life and how to be gracious in response. Her thinking about God and God’s ways motivated her to continue to be kind to her colleague, no matter how poorly she was treated in return. (In this case, after several months, her colleague actually began to become friendlier. It doesn’t always happen this way, of course.)
Third, you can offer your workplace thinking to God as an act of faithful stewardship and worship. Now I realize this can sound strange. But since God has given you the ability to think clearly and creatively, when you use this ability well, God is honored. This is especially true if you are intentionally grateful for your intellectual ability and offer it to God, much as you would offer your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord (see Romans 12:1-2).
I’m sure there are many, many more ways you can love the Lord at work through your thinking. My examples are not meant to be exhaustive. Rather, I hope they will get you thinking about how, through thinking, you can love the Lord in your work.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do any of the examples above resonate with you?
Do you ever think about God in the context of your work? If so, when? How? Why?
Do you ever think about how God would have you act in the workplace? If so, what difference does this make?
What might you do today in order to love God with your mind in the context of your work?
Gracious God, what a privilege it is to love you with all that we are, including our minds. Thank you for giving us this capability and inviting us to love you this way.
Help us, Lord, to learn to love you in our thinking in the context of our work. May we make time during our day to remember you. May we use our minds in our work in a way that honors you. May we regularly think about how you would have us act, think, and speak in our workplace.
May we love you this day, Lord, with our minds, in our work and in all we do. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Sacrificing for the Sake of the Community (Romans 12:1–3)
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.