The last 8 months have been full of great gifts, hard work and new revelations. I’ve been stretched and molded in new ways, professionally and personally. I prayed over, coordinated and pulled off the second annual Rooted Chicago conference with my team. I moved to a new neighborhood. I cheered on and supported my husband in his job in urban education and my kids as they reached new milestones. I bought bananas and Gatorade for an entire high school football team, multiple times. I helped with homework, cheered at hockey games, and packed billions (or maybe just millions) of lunches. Most recently I potty trained my youngest in three days, undoubtedly the great accomplishment of all.
There were valleys, too. I cried over the death of a friend. My heart broke as another loved one battled cancer. I stared numbly at the news and hung my head over articles about this city and this country and this world that left me feeling sick and sad.
But I wrote nothing about any of it…not here anyway.
Usually there was just no time, but occationally there were just no words.
So a few weeks ago with the big conference over and life returning to a more reasonable pace, I thought I’d close the gap by writing some wonderfully moving reflection. Tie up a busy season with a great big bow; no shortage of things to report. I brewed a fresh cup of coffee, rearranged my office, cracked my knuckles like they do in the movies, and stared at the empty screen.
But the drum roll in my head prompted a lesson I hadn’t expected to share: Don’t worship the work.
Now I would define “work” here as more than just what you get paid to do. It’s what you spend your time and energy on (potty training and packing lunches included). For me work isn’t a separate set of hours with its own special label, but rather, work is a smattering of minutes built into hours that construct a full day. Each minute can look different from the next.
Of course I believe we are called to worship God IN our work, but the place I often found myself over the last eight months was subconsciously worshipping the work. I’d hustle enough to hit a point of total depletion, then realize how little I had actually depended on God to be productive, to guide my perspective, and to make intentional choices with my time.
Failure to acknowledge God as my co-laborer is a failure to understand He engineers everything.
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9
As a writer, speaker and planner of “Jesus things” it’s almost scary how easy it can be to spend more time talking about Jesus than actually talking to Him.
In My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers says this:
“A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, <strong>are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.
But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.”
Definitely hanging that last line above my desk.
So I’m beginning again with refreshed focus and a project that feels like appropriate connection to the co-laboring concept. For the next couple months I’ll be blogging over at The Barnabas Group.
Grateful to be reminded of the freedom we receive in Jesus and that He uses our gifts and abilities for His glory.