September 16, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture Reading: Psalm 73:21-26 (NRSV)
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast toward you.
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
If you’ve been working for a while, you can probably think of times when you weren’t in a good place at work. Perhaps you were exhausted and let the quality of your work slide. Perhaps you were envious of someone who was getting more affirmation or compensation than you were, and you became mired in self-pity. Or . . . you name it.
The latter portion of Psalm 73 puts into words something we might pray when we’re in a bad place at work. If you’re not there now, you may want to remember such a time and pray about it. Or, perhaps you know someone else who needs you to pray on their behalf. Or, you can tuck away this prayer until the time when you need it.
When bad things happen at work, when we watch others getting the accolades we desire, when we’re so tired we can hardly think straight, we can get stuck in self-pity. We can make bad decisions and treat people poorly. In such times, we need to know that God is with us, holding our right hand as it says in Psalm 73. The more we remember God at work, the more everything changes. We experience God’s strength present in us, helping us to work wisely and fruitfully.
Gracious God, when things at work are hard, it’s easy for me to become embittered. I see how others are thriving and feel like a failure. I observe the attention they receive and find myself caught in envy. Sometimes I’m just plain exhausted, worn down in body and soul. In these times, Lord, I forget all about you. I work as if you’re not even there. Oh my! Forgive me.
Thank you, Lord, for not abandoning me when I abandon you. Thank you for holding my right hand, for keeping me close to you. Thank you for guiding me with your wisdom even when I’d rather do things my own way. Thank you for welcoming me back into your presence, even when I don’t deserve it. Not that I ever deserve your welcome! It’s all about your grace.
O Lord, the more I remember you at work, the more I realize how much I need you. I need you more than success or affirmation. I need you more than money or power. When I’m holding you in my heart, there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. Help me, Lord, to live and work in this reality.
And when I’m exhausted and discouraged, when I’m worn down, may I turn to you. O God, you are the strength of my heart. You are my reward, my glory, my life. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
When things are hard at work, God is continually with you, holding your right hand.
For Further Reflection
You may wish to read all of Psalm 73.
You may find it encouraging to read Luke 12:22-32.
A Note from Mark
Friends, I’m sending this note to let you know about a new opportunity in our third third work. We have just added an extra Road Ahead cohort for folks in the third third of life, and we still have a couple of open spaces.
In the past couple of years, dozens of people in this season of life have found Road Ahead to be a great opportunity to clarify God’s calling in this transitional time. I’ve led several Road Ahead groups and am enthusiastic about this program. (You can learn more about my excitement for Road Ahead here.)
We’re planning on starting the new cohort in a couple of weeks. If you have questions about it, please . . . . For more information about Road Ahead in general, click here.
Grace and Peace, Mark
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: The Workplace Consequences of Personal Failings (Psalm 73)
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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.