January 5, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 2:20 (NRSV)
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
As you get back into the routine of work, let your work be an act of worship to God. In your daily work, whether paid or unpaid, do as Paul exhorts in Romans 12:1, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” In your work today, and tomorrow, and the next day, seek to love and glorify the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This is the final devotion in the series Responding to the Wonder of Christmas. As we have worked our way through the Christmas story in Luke, we’ve reflected on the following responses to the birth of Jesus: fear, resolution, action, witness, treasuring, and returning. Today we’ll consider glorifying.
Though Luke doesn’t narrate the inner feelings of the shepherds when they returned to work, he does tell us what they did, and this gives us a window into their souls. When they got back to work, they were “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (2:20). Now, you can certainly worship authentically when you’re feeling down. Worship is, after all, an expression of praise for and submission to God, not a feeling we experience. But if you’re “glorifying and praising God,” chances are you’re also feeling a good bit of joy. So, even though the shepherds were back at work, their souls were still elated.
What would it be like for you to praise and glorify God when you’re at work? I suppose you could be one of those Christians who’s always saying “Praise the Lord” when anything good happens. That would be one option, but it may not fit your personality or be appropriate in your workplace. Most of us may need to find other ways to praise God at work.
Another way would be to establish certain times of day to offer prayer and praise to God. I know Christians who, for example, get a few moments alone during their lunch break to pray. Some folks have written to tell me that they begin their day at work by opening up Life for Leaders, spending a few minutes in reflection and prayer before they get about the business of the day. They say this helps them see their whole day of work as an offering to God.
I have no doubt that intentionally offering praise to God as we work can be a good thing, as long as we’re respecting the ethos of our particular workplace. But I would suggest that we can glorify God in our work in other ways. In fact, I believe we can glorify God, not only by what we say to God at work, but also by doing our work as an act of worship. Whether you’re helping clients sell their house, washing windows, building cabinets, teaching students, managing a staff, inventing products, or you name it, you can do this work for God’s glory. You can remember that God created humankind to work in the world. And, importantly, you can keep in mind the fact that Jesus, God in human flesh, spent much of his adult life working as a craftsman and small business owner. Thus, when you seek to work with integrity and excellence, when you treat your colleagues and customers with fairness and love, when you manage your staff with justice and grace, when you make good products that serve people well, you are glorifying God through your work.
I don’t mean to diminish in any way the importance of verbal praise to God. The fact that the shepherds were able to praise God at work is wonderful. It may even have enriched the lives of the sheep for all I know. But, from a biblical perspective, the shepherds could glorify God also by being good shepherds. If they were working with the image of God as a shepherd in mind, caring for their sheep well, then God would be honored through their daily work.
So, as you get back into the routine of work, let your work be an act of worship to God. In your daily work, whether paid or unpaid, do as Paul exhorts in Romans 12:1, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” In your work today, and tomorrow, and the next day, seek to love and glorify the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Are you ever able to praise God at work? If so, when? Why?
Do you think of your work as glorifying God? If so, why? If not, why not?
How might you think and feel differently about your work if you believed you were truly glorifying God through what you were doing?
In a way that is appropriate and respectful, find a time this week or next week when, in the course of your daily work, you can spend several focused minutes in prayer and praise.
Gracious God, thank you for the example of the shepherds, who went back to work and were still praising and glorifying you.
May I find times to praise you as I work. But, even more, may I learn to do my work for your glory. Teach me, Lord, to offer my work as worship to you.
Be glorified, Lord, in my life today, in my words and deeds, in my work and rest, in everything. May it all be for you. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds (Romans 12:1–3)
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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.