February 3, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Philippians 1:12-14
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Whether there is despair, uncertainty, success, or setback, Paul’s first clause affirms a strong reminder: there is always some good to come in every circumstance.
I recently read a report from a Gallup poll about the State of the Global Workplace that said that there are staggering numbers of people who are disengaged and unhappy in their work. Over half of people are emotionally detached and almost a quarter are miserable. A lot of people go places doing a lot of work for others and they are not particularly encouraged in the space they are in.
I would like to believe most people can empathize at least intellectually with the notion that it is difficult to walk into spaces of work and be fully present where your contribution is not needed. It must be even more difficult when you cannot understand how your presence has any intrinsic value to anyone else or something bigger than yourself. And most people—understood or not—are looking for something bigger than themselves.
Paul’s circumstances were in one sense anti-climactic if taken at face value. There were Roman roads, a unifying language system, and the diaspora of the Jewish converts. The witness of the church was enabled by the Spirit guaranteeing the promise of the Gospel, and this zealot convert had converged on this moment. Yet Paul, slave of Jesus Christ, called to be a “sent one,” was in a Roman prison and faced impending death. It would seem like the progression would have headed in a different direction.
When problems seem to spiral into feeling almost out of control, perhaps you are like most people, who have asked “What good is any of it?” How can a series of events be worthwhile to anyone? What good is pain, setback, struggle, and strife?
Before we look at the content of the answer tomorrow, know that the key part of the verse is the first four words in verse 12: “I want you to know.” Whether there is despair, uncertainty, success, or setback, Paul’s first clause affirms a strong reminder: there is always some good to come in every circumstance.
Why do you think Paul has a strong desire for them to know?
Take a moment and think about places in your work or home that you have checked out of. What if God is saying to you “I want you to know”? What is he telling you? What do you need to do?
Oh, God of every age, thank you for being the same yesterday, today and forever more. When we are prone to wander in trusting that every moment matters, teach us how you’re present. Make me astonished by what you can do with what seems to be insignificant or painful. Teach me to listen for you saying, “I want you to know.” In Jesus’ name, 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’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The One Who Began a Good Work Among You Will Bring it to Completion (Philippians 1:1–26).
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.