I wonder when you first started thinking about how your faith relates to your work?
I remember asking a friend once while talking about an issue he was facing at work and saying: “You really need teach people how you do it?”
“Integrate your faith with your work?”
He was genuinely surprised, since he thought it was obvious. However, the more I write and work in this area I realise that it is not obvious. It’s actually very difficult.
Partly, that is because we have been enculturated in the Christian world, and at work, to separate out our faith from our work.
However, even once we have leapt across the sacred-secular divide, it may still be difficult.
So, how can people do this better?
In part it is nature, some have a natural gift.
In part it is nurture, it can be learnt (perhaps unlearnt is a more accurate description).
I have done a series of interviews on this subject and here are some of the responses:
For some it was something that was natural:
I always wondered, even as a student studying. I always relied on God, asking what he wanted me to do with my studies. I have always committed my work to God. It was part of my formation as a person. I’ve always seen work and study as part of God’s plan.
For others, it occurred as they were considering career options at school:
I was thinking about courses I could do at university, and which would provide the best opportunity for serving God.
For some, it was a sudden realisation when they hit the workforce:
Once I started working. I was naïve before that, simply focused on study. However, then came a decision point about where to work, and I started praying about it and asking God for a job.
Sometimes the connection comes as a reaction to negative experiences one has received:
I learnt from bad experiences with previous bosses. That negativity was replaced with positivity. It wasn’t just the bad things they did, but things they neglected to do.
Sometimes, it comes with a sudden elevation in responsibility:
When I came to Australia, taking up a senior position, it dawned on me that I did not want to be a Christian in name only, or just not do bad things; but I needed to be proactive. Not just be a nice guy, but helping and caring, empathising, serving others, and not doing things for my own interest and benefit.
However, on the weekend I was at the Nurses Christian Fellowship Australia conference, and it was the first time someone said: a painting! She had been moved by a picture of a nurse at work, with Jesus standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder. In creative form it captures the deep truth that Jesus is with us always, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing. It helped this young nurse to realise that her work is important to God, that Jesus is present in the workplace and that she can worship God through her work.