How are you supposed to have joy at work when your colleague in the next cubicle is lazy yet takes credit for work you completed? Down the hall, colleagues trash your boss all day. Worse than the negativity at work is the drama caused by people yapping back and forth at each other like a pack of scared poodles! You thought you left the back-stabbing gossip behind in high school, but here it is again at work.
It’s tiring. You get worn out without getting any work done. And that’s defeating. You end up stressed out and tired and going home further behind than when you walked in with your coffee in hand and your high hopes intact. Is there any help?
Good news! The gospel is called good news for a reason; it offers many great benefits. And these benefits are available to us even while we work. But there is a problem. How can we experience Gospel benefits at work—especially if we work with unbelievers?
Gospel benefits are received by faith. And faith means trusting someone else more than we trust ourselves. That can be tough. But it’s not so tough when the someone else we are trusting is Jesus.
There are many wonderful, exceptionally great things to say about Jesus. But he referred to his way as “the narrow way.” By narrow way, Jesus meant that his way is the less obvious and sometimes a little more difficult than the way everyone else is living. To be sure, the way of Jesus is the better way—it is the way of life—abundant life even. But it isn’t the easy way.
If you are willing to trust Jesus and take a risk of faith, then you will find a secret to successful work. This secret is counter-intuitive. You won’t believe it when you hear it. Would you like to know how to leave your job each day with less stress and more joy?
It’s simple. Follow the lead of the one leader who is always working for your eternal good. Following Jesus at work means you should adjust your expectation.
Adjustment: Expect to serve.
Go to work expecting to serve… not to be served. Worldly pressure squeezes us like an orange press bearing down on the thick skin to force out the juice-filled pulp in the middle. Worldly pressure commands us to demand our rights. It stokes fear and tells us if we don’t stand up for our rights no one else will. So, we end up expecting injustice and looking to get even.
Jesus, on the other hand, says, “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 27-28, ESV). Jesus tells his disciples to become slaves and servants—after his own example.
When Jesus said this, the disciples had been fighting (at work!) over who was about to get a promotion. Actually, it was even worse than it sounds. It wasn’t really the disciples who were in a fight; it was a mama bear! The mother of James and John wanted her sons to be promoted in Jesus’s kingdom to the seats of honor on either side of the king. Jesus let her (and the disciples) know that his way is not the same as the way of the world. His way is not scratching and clawing over people to rise to the top of the pack. His way is finding how to give time and attention to others to help them live better. The Jesus way is to be a servant. Don’t seek a way to avail in victory over your peers. Find a way to serve them.
… I warned you this is counter-intuitive. And not easy.
No one follows Jesus because his way is easy. We follow because he is good. Because Jesus is good, his way is good. We can trust him to lead.
On another occasion, Jesus showed his followers an example of service. He took water and a towel and washed their dirty feet. The king! He knelt to the ground before them, took water from a bowl, and washed their feet, wiping their feet with the towel wrapped around his waist. Then he said to them,
“If I then your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:15-17).
No lawful job is too low for Christians. And no human being is beneath being served by those who follow the way of Jesus.
Why not take a major risk and start serving your colleagues at work? Jesus says you are blessed if you do this. One aspect of the blessed life is freedom to serve others in the name of Jesus.
Seriously, devote one day this week to serve someone around you. Make it your aim: A successful day will be yours if you serve ______________________ well today. Go make that person have a great day and see what the Lord does for you. Let us know what happens.