Spiritual Disciplines from 9 to 5
We all need to set aside regular times each week when we can spend quality time focusing on God. But the spiritual disciplines don’t have to stop there. We can supplement those times of “feasting” with “spiritual snacks” throughout the day. Since work consumes a large percentage of our waking hours, we can begin to view our work as a context for spiritual disciplines.
W O R K I N G W I T H G O D
The workplace creates unlimited opportunities to practice Christian living. For example, if a supervisor treats me unfairly, I can ask myself, “What would Christ do in this situation?” If a coworker blasts me verbally, I can practice letting the Holy Spirit dictate my response. When a coworker’s emergency at home creates a backlog at work, I can practice compassion and service by lending a helping hand. But I’m more likely to respond to these situations in a Christlike manner if I have made a habit of bringing the disciplines with me to work.
Here are suggestions for practicing spiritual disciplines in the workday.
1. Take advantage of downtime. Keep a small devotional book or a compact Bible in your pocket, purse, or briefcase, and pull it out when you unexpectedly have time on your hands.
2. Get mileage out of your commute. After a friend told me about a new Christian radio station, I started listening to it during my 45-minute drive to work. A daily commute can be an enjoyable worship experience when it includes listening to Christian music, Scripture readings, preaching, and prayer.
Whether you drive or take public transportation, you can use travel time for informal conversations with God, asking Him to help you with the day ahead or simply expressing your praise and thanksgiving. You can also use this time to reflect on how to apply Scripture to the workday, how to begin healing a strained relationship at work, or how to reach out to a new employee.
3. Set aside one lunch hour and one coffee break a week. This doesn’t necessarily mean you spend the time reading your Bible and praying, although it certainly could. Consider using the time to get better acquainted with a coworker. Or invite a Christian friend to lunch and use the time to build up one another in the Lord.
If you normally eat lunch out, try bringing a sack lunch from home one day or more a week. Set aside the money you save for your church’s missions fund or another special need. Or you could add the change you would normally put in the office vending machines to your weekly church offering.
4. Keep a “jotting journal.” The workplace offers a smorgasbord of spiritual learning opportunities, but the pressures of work often mean that we can’t take full advantage of them. Consider keeping a small notebook for jotting down questions, issues, or experiences you want to follow up on later. For example, if an ethical question arises, make a note to pursue it later through Bible study, prayer, and the counsel of others. If you have an opportunity to witness but get cold feet at the last minute, jot down a reminder to work on your witnessing skills.
Be sure to follow through on your journal notes, either during your usual quiet time or during your commute home.
5. Schedule checkpoints into your day. Each morning write at least two “spiritual checkpoints” in your appointment book. When that time rolls around, take two or three minutes to ask: Am I depending on God, or am I working in my own strength? Am I letting Christ be seen through me today?
Using this system can help get a derailed relationship back on track or smooth over a conflict. Building checkpoints into each day keeps Christ’s example before us instead of letting worldly values and the demands of the day crowd Him out.
R I C H E S A L L D A Y L O N G
Christians in the workplace have a unique role to play in God’s kingdom on earth. Yet it’s easy to “leave God at home” after we close our Bibles in the morning. Amid the paper clips, phone messages, and project pressures, let’s be sure to remember that Christ is always Chairman of the Board. We serve Him best when we conscientiously and consistently tap into the spiritual riches that are available to us throughout the day.
a b o u t t h e a u t h o r
ELSA M. HOUTZ says, “Christians in the workplace must accept responsibility for bringing Christ and Christian values to that environment. To do that, we
must maintain our spiritual vitality to avoid having our values undermined or weakened by the cultural forces of the workplace.”
Used by permission of Discipleship Journal. Copyright © Mar/April 2006, Issue 152, The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. www.navpress.com