October 28, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture Reading: Psalm 79:9 (NRSV)
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
for your name’s sake.
We all make mistakes at work. Some are relatively minor, like accidentally entering the wrong number in a spreadsheet or missing an appointment. Others are more hurtful, such as gossiping about a colleague or speaking harshly to someone who reports to you. And then some mistakes are truly dire, such as falsifying financial reports or stealing from the company.
Not all workplace mistakes are sinful. If you miss a meeting because you entered the wrong time in your calendar, that’s an error but not a sin (unless you knew you were writing the wrong time). But it’s likely that in the context of your work you will sin at times. Maybe it will be what you said when you were angry. Or maybe it will be your failure to speak up in the presence of injustice. In my morning devotions, I often use a familiar liturgical prayer, confessing to God “what I have done and what I have left undone.” I imagine that my workplace sins are often in the “what I have left undone” category. Things like: I should have reached out to a hurting colleague but I was too wrapped up in my work to care. That sort of thing.
Psalm 79:9 invites us to confess our sins, including our workplace sins, asking for God’s forgiveness, deliverance, and help. The prayer below is like a prayer I prayed some time ago when I spoke in anger at work and hurt someone I care about deeply.
If you work at a full-time job, chances are you will sometimes sin at work. It may be something you do or say. Or it may be something you don’t do that you should have done. No matter the specifics, when you sin in your work, it’s time to tell God about it, to confess, asking for God’s forgiveness, deliverance, and help.
Gracious God, I think back on what happened and I feel terrible. I can’t believe I said what I did. I felt so angry and out of control. That was not the right time to speak up. But I did and now I’ve got a mess on my hands, a mess I have made for myself and for others.
Forgive me, Lord, for speaking in anger and saying things that hurt someone I care about. Forgive me for not being wise or mature enough to hold my tongue. Forgive me for working in a way that was not honoring to you.
Help me, Lord, as I seek reconciliation with the one I wronged. May my heart be open and my intentions right. Help me to admit my wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Lord, I also ask you to help me grow in you as I work. If I pay attention, I can learn so much about myself in the context of my work. I can see clearly where I need you to form and reform me. I can also see where you have helped me to become more like you in the past. As I see myself as I am, may I be open about my failures and grateful for all the signs of your transforming grace.
In all I do at work, Lord, may it be for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
When you sin at work, be sure to confess, asking for God’s forgiveness and help.
For Further Reflection
You may wish to read all of Psalm 79.
Psalm 51 is also a wonderful prayer of confession.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: It’s Payback Time
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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.