PROGRAM W-1739 – Part I
Recently I was introduced to a website called wildaboutwork.com where I found some really good thoughts. With the permission of the author, Curt, I’m using some of his ideas.
As Christ-followers, we must continually remind ourselves that every part of our lives is sacred. There are no secular/sacred categories for us. As I’ve often said, for a disciple of Jesus Christ, working in what we would classify as a secular organization should be as sacred as working in a church or becoming a missionary. Our calling should be as clear as any of those whom we classify as being in “full time Christian service.” It’s unfortunate that this terminology is used because it simply is not biblical. Every believer is in full time Christian service—or should be.
As Christ-followers, then, we definitely should have a different attitude toward our work, our coworkers, and our employers. We should approach our work each day with this attitude: What difference can I make today?
There are any number of ways we can make a difference—in the way we work, in the quality of our work effort and, of course, in our interactions with the people for whom and with whom we work. Let’s think of some practical ways you and I can make a difference—no matter where we work. You can make a difference by adding something positive or eliminating something negative.
The first and most important way we make a difference is by our very demeanor. Do you show up at work in negative mode—complaining too often and criticizing too much? That’s a negative that can be eliminated. Instead, choose to show up each day in positive mode—with a smile on your face, greeting people in a friendly way, and keeping your words out of negative territory.
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Your demeanor—the look on your face—is usually a result of what’s going on in your heart. When your heart is happy, your face is cheerful! How do we keep a happy heart? The Apostle Paul reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always! (Philippians 4:4) You may be encountering some not-so-happy circumstances in your life right now, and you may not be able to rejoice in what’s happening. But if you’re focused on the Lord Jesus and all he’s done for you, you can rejoice in the Lord always—at all times!
Notice that the Apostle Paul states this as a directive: Rejoice in the Lord! This is a choice you can make—you can decide to keep your mind focused on all the good things the Lord has done for you and, even in the midst of unhappy circumstances, you can keep a happy heart. When you do, your face will show it, and your cheerful face will make a difference.
I think many times we are more negative than we realize, so here’s a suggestion: Determine the next day you go to work that you will not say anything negative all day long. Set that as your goal—to get through one entire day without being negative. Put reminders around you to help you remember. In addition, pray about it at the beginning of your day and ask God to help you remember not to say anything negative all day. If you will do this, you may be surprised to see how many times you begin a negative comment. . .and you have to stop in the middle of your sentence.
Once you’re focused on eliminating your own negative words and attitudes, think of what you could do to eliminate some other negatives where you work. What is it about the work environment that is negative? Too dark? Too dreary? Too hot or cold? It’s possible you could do something to improve the environment.
Here in our small office, one of my staff voluntarily puts up different displays and puts lovely centerpieces on our table, etc. She is very creative, and she changes them with the seasons and holidays. We always have a cheerful, encouraging display to brighten up our office space. It’s not in her job description. She just does it—and it makes a difference.
What could you do to help your organization save money? If you’re not personally in charge of the finances of your organization, you may not think about ways to save money. But believe me—everyone needs to do a better job of cutting unnecessary expenses. From something as small as turning off lights when you don’t need them, to conserving paper, to reducing phone bills or travel expenses, it makes a difference when everyone watches the bottom line. All too often employees have an attitude of taking advantage of the company and getting some financial benefit for themselves. Just imagine how unique it would be to have an employee who simply does what she or he can do to eliminate unnecessary expenses, finds less expensive ways to do things, or more economical sources. It would make a difference.
Are there some ways you could help your fellow coworkers who may be dealing with some negative situations? An extra-mile effort might make a big difference to them—something like pitching in to help them meet a deadline or showing them some new skills or easier way of doing things. I know that I frequently need help with my computer. I use it constantly yet have a very poor understanding of how it works! When someone takes the time to dig me out of one of my technical problems, it is much appreciated!
Certainly, eliminating negatives is a great way to make a difference where you work! Taking it a step further and adding something positive is equally important. Don’t underestimate the impact that small things make—things like remembering birthdays or anniversaries, and finding ways to have small celebrations. Recently someone sent out a reminder that our church receptionist was celebrating twenty years of service to the church. What fun it was to celebrate her and give her a little gift to say how much we appreciate her.
Does your organization have any kind of a volunteer program where employees can be a part of some good charitable project? Many companies are more attuned to that these days, but if yours isn’t, why couldn’t you suggest or start something? I find that people really want to help others—they just don’t know how to get involved. Offer a suggestion, and they’ll usually want to help. For example, you could have a food drive for a homeless shelter or a food bank. Or you could suggest visiting a nursing home once a month to cheer up the residents.
The Boy Scouts have a motto that says, “Leave it better than you found it.” Suppose all of us had that attitude toward our everyday work—from cleaning up messes and keeping the place looking nice, to improving the quality of your work effort and coming up with ways to do a better job. If every one of us intentionally tried to leave our workplace each day better than we found it, how much nicer would our jobs be? How much easier would it be to come to work each day?
I know that not everyone will share your enthusiasm for making a difference where you work and, furthermore, not everyone will appreciate your efforts. This should not matter—especially if we are disciples of Jesus Christ. We have the privilege and the responsibility of doing everything we do as under the Lord.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Throughout the thirty-four years I have been broadcasting, my deepest desire and prayer has been that I could somehow inspire Christians in the marketplace to see their jobs as their calling—as the place God has them to be a light in a dark world. I know that many of you have that attitude. I’ve heard so many of your stories of how God is using you to make a difference where you work.
Over time, asking what difference you can make while you’re at work can become a habitual question—a way of life. It becomes automatic such that, instead of having a defeatist attitude, you look at every situation from the perspective of what you can do to make a difference.
However, this won’t simply happen. We each must be intentional about it on a daily basis, and we need to be motivated by a love of God and love of people—the two things Jesus told us we need to do. This kind of attitude comes through prayer and the power of God’s Spirit residing in us. The incredibly good news is that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we have both the motivation and the power to make a difference.
It just so happens that when we work as unto the Lord, it also reduces our stress, brings us joy and fulfillment, and makes our daily lives meaningful and worthwhile. It’s a win-win way to live.