To watch or listen to John’s message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
“Ever feel anxious or overwhelmed in life? Ever get a bad attitude about work, school, or your kids? How many of us drive to work Monday mornings saying, “Thank God it’s Monday?” Not many. We have a saying “Thank God it’s Friday.” Why? Because most people don’t love their work. Forbes magazine’s survey of North American workers found 2/3 are unhappy with their work. What’s up with that? Since most of us spend 60% or more of our lives at work—doesn’t it seem like something’s wrong? I’ve come to believe that God’s intent is that we love our work because we have found the secret of loving what we do. That’s what we’re going to explore for the next 4 weeks. If you don’t love work, or you lack motivation, or feel you’re in the wrong place, stick with us these 4 weeks. I believe God wants to do work with you, and lead you so that you truly love what you do—whether as a mom, a mechanic, a manager so you actually Love Mondays.
Martin Luther was a sixteenth century priest that set out to reform some of the practices of the church and help ordinary people have access to God’s Word rather than having to go through a priest. This movement came to be known as the Reformation. Out of this period in history came a word that we still use today. It is the word “professional.” Today when we use that word, what most of us think of is someone who is a white-collar worker, but the meaning we give that word today is not the original meaning that it had in the sixteenth century. Those involved in The Reformation thought of it in a different way. The reformers believed that for those who professed to be Christ-followers, following Christ needed to impact every area of life, including the work life. They also believed that how you worked was a profession of what you believed about God. It showed how close you were to Him. Your job was meant to be a profession or spiritual demonstration of your faith. So God’s goal is that all of you would be More Professional—where ever you work, whether at home, downtown, in a machine shop, or a cube. I believe God wants to Do Work with us, and radically improve your job satisfaction and your performance—not to mention your life. I want to run through 3 challenges we all face most every day—with Motivation, Stress, and Attitude and look at how our God as our Professional Consultant wants to do Work with us so we learn to love our work:
1. Your Motivation Other than genetics, the number one factor that determines how long we will live isn’t diet or exercise but job satisfaction. Studies have shown those who say they enjoy their work, live longer; those who don’t, die sooner.
The typical view of work is that it’s a necessary evil, right? It’s something we have to do, but the sooner we can retire the better. But work is not a curse. It’s intended to be part of the fulfillment of who God created us to be. Your work Matters to God. He wants you to find your motivation, not in your company, your boss, or your pay primarily. He wants you to find your motivation working for Him.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 There’s a lot here, but notice a couple of things. First, people were created different from the animals. (See “Created to Create” by Erwin McManus). You can imagine, create, govern, develop things out of nothing. God made us to Partner with Him in the oversight and development of all He created, and He made us all to Partner through our work. We were created for the purpose of reflecting God’s image as we Partner with Him and each other to Work and Tend and develop His Creation.
Your Work Matters to God. All work, if not directly against God’s purposes, can serve to accomplish God’s purposes. [Martin Luther said Christian work is not putting little crosses on shoes, it’s making good shoes.] Since we are self-centered and fallen, we do work out of self-centered rather than God-centered motives. As a result, bosses use or abuse employees, who get back at them by wasting the day away. Unethical, unjust, uncaring, back-biting, gossiping, unmotivating Mondays quickly follow. It makes work feel cursed (which is what Genesis 3 talks about—turning from God produces all that). Through Christ, God is restoring all things—all willing people get freely restored to God, then God can Go To Work with us, restoring dignity and purpose and new motivation to all we do–Whether you mold plastics, program computers, finance transactions, solve problems, build houses, raise children, teach, work for a church, sell widgets, or study to one of the above. How? How do we gain this new motivation? Simple: switch bosses.
Paul in the New Testament book called Colossians explains: 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
If you’re a Christ-follower, you have new motivation. This is incredible if you grasp it—it will transform your Mondays. No matter how harsh, how unreasonable, how mean or demanding your boss is, you have a new Higher Ranking Boss you now work for. He’s with You, by His Spirit, every second of every day as your Professional Consultant, and His goal is that You succeed! That’s Great News.
God sees, and He rewards (that what the Scriptures promise) when we do our work to please Him. He sees and will reward us in time. God’s your new boss so everything can count – no matter how demeaning, frustrating, or humiliating. When you feel unmotivated, in those moments let your lack of motivation turn your mind Godward. Be honest with Him about why you have no motivation, and let Him change your mindset.
Bach—one of the most amazing, prolific composers of all time, at age 17 decided God was who He worked for—at the start of every composition he put “In Jesus’ Name.”
2. Your Stress Level makes you Hate Mondays. When deadlines are banging on your door with a vengance, or you’re overwhelmed with responsibilies, it makes you hate Mondays. When the kids are fighting, your nerves are on edge, you hate Mondays. Or you face a quota every day and a sudden knot forms in your stomach as you think about whether you’ll meet expectations and survive the next layoff, it makes you hate Mondays. Stress and anxiety abound in our workday, but that’s exactly where God wants to do work with us—right there in the middle of our stress.
Since stress and anxiety cloud our thinking, hinder our creativity, slow our productivity, and hurt us – no wonder it matters to God. When we’re feeling Stressed or Anxious—How do we Do let God work?
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
If we have made God our new boss then we have a whole new way of dealing with stress and anxiety. Because Stress and anxiety come from taking on emotional burdens we weren’t meant to carry. It comes from not knowing the future, worrying or stressing about what “might” or “Might not” happen. If the only thing you have to count on or trust in is your ability to control the future, you have good reason to be anxious. For those of you who have not put your trust in Christ yet, here’s a huge benefit. When you put your life in God’s hands, asking what Jesus did on the cross to count for you, asking God to come lead you—He says you are forever adopted as His Son or Daughter—a son or daughter who God will never abandon, never forsake, and death is simply the entrance into the true Life we all long for—Home. When all is right with the CEO of the Universe, you have nothing to fear, nothing ultimately to worry about because the Only One who does hold the future in his Hands holds You by the Hand and won’t let go.
In Colossians 3 it says “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Sons and Daughters get inheritances—right! We can work hard, with new motivation, doing our best for God (not just our earthly bosses) because we will receive an inheritance from God as a reward for all we do motivated to love and serve Him. Now, how does that reduce stress? Here’s how.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Here’s how it works: you’re going through your work day, and you start to become aware of your neck muscles tensing or your stomach in knots. When you feel overwhelmed and overloaded—burdened beyond what you can handle, it’s a clue. You weren’t meant to live this way. It’s time for Professional Consulation! Take a work break ask Jesus, your new Boss, to teach you his way. He’s not an overbearing task-master boss who gives you impossible loads to carry. He does have a Yoke for you (a yoke is that deal Oxen wear to work). It’s His Yoke you’re strapping on. In other words, He’s going to do the plowing with you, and it’s not heavy and burdensome.
So you feel stressed, take a 3 minute break and get some Professional help. Close your door, go for a walk, shut your eyes (unless you won’t stay awake), pull this verse out and meditate on it. Talk to God about it. He’s there. Ask God for a new perspective so you can see it’s not the end of the world, no matter if your worst nightmare happens. Thank him that He’s in control, and He knows the future. You can’t control all the circumstances, so take a deep breath, let go of that part, and ask God to bring to your mind the One Thing you can do proactively right now. That’s all you can do. Leave the worry over the future to God. Relax, and get to work on what comes to mind to proactively do. You’ll be amazed at how this clears your confusion and frantic, unproductive shuffling. Do work God’s way and watch how much better you do. This week, when you start to stress let it be a signal to get some Professional Consultation—and watch what happens.
3. Your Attitude – Do you have a negative attitude toward what you have to do that just settles in like a dense Fog?
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 It doesn’t really matter how others are treating us, how unfair the boss is, how lazy and frustrating the employees are, how low and demeaning the work is, your attitude is not dependent on any of that. “Whatever you do” it says “do it with all your heart.” Not half-hearted attitude, not a “get by” attitude, not a “I’m above this attitude,” – when you choose that attitude, you’re losing your reward that you could have from the Lord. That means every Monday, no matter how difficult, can be purposeful and rewarding. As followers of Jesus, the scripture says this about choosing our attitude…
“Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a servant….” Philippians 2:5-7
Our work worlds are full of people climbing and clawing and stepping on each other to get to the top. To reflect the image of God as we set aside being consumed with our success and start seeing how we can help others succeed as well (ironically those are the people who succeed most in the long run). God saw our potential and humbled himself to serve us—to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves so that we could become all He dreamed.
The amazing thing is that when we do this—when we allow God to influence our attitude, so that we have a positive, optimistic expectation toward work and toward others—it changes how we work—and everyone around us succeeds, and in turn, that makes the company succeed, and often our success follows.
The most dramatic example I’ve ever read about happened in a San Francisco school. The Principal of the school called in 3 teachers to inform them of an experiment that the district would be conducting. The principal said, “Because you are the finest teachers in the system, we’re going to give you ninety selected high I-Q students. Were going to let you move these students through this next year at their pace and see how much they can learn.” The faculty and students were pumped about it, and during the next year, they made amazing progress. The students achieved 20-30% more than any other group of students in the area. After the year ended, the Principal called the select teachers together and said, “I have a confession to make. Those were not 90 of the highest IQ students. They were run-of-the-mill students, we chose them randomly from the entire student database.” The teachers felt even better—look what their skill had done with just average students. “I have another confession,” the Principal said, “You’re not the brightest of the teachers either. Your names were the first 3 drawn from a hat.”
It was the attitudes—attitude changed the way the teachers taught and the way the students learned. And attitude can change you and your workplace too. So is your attitude lacking? When it is, get some Professional Consultation. “God, you’re here, help me to see the potential here. Help me to see what can be, not just what isn’t. Help me to be a motivator and inspiration and a servant to lift other up.” Then listen to thoughts that come and respond.