Since being licensed as a Lay Minister last October, I have been increasingly challenged to consider how I expand the ‘spiritual’ part of life into the workplace.
In my case, the workplace is the School of Education at the University of Bristol where I am responsible for a lovely cohort of student teachers of modern languages. So how do I integrate my faith into the everyday of lectures, tutorials, assignment marking and school visits? And what lessons have I learned about be a Christian in the workplace?
Firstly, I’ve learned the hard way about spending time with God at the start of the day – I’ve learned that when that gets pushed out, things tend not to go so well – and I don’t ever achieve more for having denied God that time, indeed the reverse is often true. When I have laid meetings, potentially difficult conversations or a heavy workload before God at the beginning of a day, things often go better. I’ve come to see that He cares about all aspects of my life.
Secondly, I’ve realised that my colleagues, although mostly ‘non religious’, are positive about my Christian faith and that I do not need to fear being seen as ‘weird’ or as a ‘religious nut’ if I talk about it. Offers to pray have been accepted, and an invitation to a church event accepted. I do have to remind myself that offers to pray for colleagues have to be followed up with action – actually doing the praying and asking them for updates.
Thirdly, I’ve learned that God can teach me through ‘the everyday’ at work, including encounters with students and colleagues. I share one small example. It was a Friday in October. ’Have you got any plans for the weekend?’ a student teacher asked. ‘Yes’, I said, I’m preaching in our church service on Sunday’. ‘Oh, that’s really cool’ continued the student – and then the killer question, ‘What are you talking about?’ I’m embarrassed to say that the question somewhat floored me. ‘Ephesians 5’ I replied – a totally meaningless answer to an unchurched student teacher. A missed opportunity. But it led to me asking a question: Do my sermons have a clear central message for believers and non-believers alike? I went home that day and made some changes.
I’m very much a work in progress and painfully aware that I do not always practice what I preach, but God keeps gently nudging me and for that I am thankful!
I’d like to finish by sharing with you a verse from Colossians which reminds us who it is that we are ultimately working for:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’.
Colossians, 3 v23
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