As a former church worker, I used to lead worship in my church as well as oversee the worship team in the Youth Ministry from Church of Our Saviour. Worship is a topic that I have always been very interested in. When I speak to different Christians on what worship is, I get a variety of responses. There are so many different perception on what worship is about.
Recently, my Senior Pastor, Daniel Wee, spoke about what true worship is: an act of love, a burnt offering, something we give because we love Him and we can anticipate His pleasure. That resonated with me. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I desire to take this idea of worship deep into the workplace. Everyday, I think about how I lead my staff team at Strengths School. Whenever I run the Gallup StrengthsFinder workshops for different clients or meet up with individuals to do strengths based coaching, I think about how I express my worship to God through my work.
I write this article to share my thoughts and reflections on how I have taken this idea of worship into my workplace and my work through simple and practical ways.
The bible tells us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. We are also called to love our neighbour as we do ourselves. One of the most straightforward ideas of worship lies in living out this idea of loving our neighbour; it is being that good Samaritan to the wounded man. We can anticipate that God will be glorified and delighted when we give our best to love our neighbours at work.
So, how can we worship God through loving our neighbour in our workplace?
1. Intentionally create space to relate
Because our God is a relational God, our worship must therefore be reflected in an active lifestyle of loving our neighbours. Many Christians are content to accept the idea of worship as mainly to give our best piece of “work” to God. This perspective must be challenged.
As Christians, we must be intentional in loving others. Especially in Singapore, where busyness is the norm, it is often challenging to create space to love our neighbours. This space is created by intentionally apportioning time to relate to our co-workers. It is creating a capacity in our hearts to listen to others’ needs. It is carving out time for others. It is finding ways to reduce the end-to-end busyness so that we can have time to attend to others, to help when there is a need. Most Christians do not find it hard to help others when they have time to spare. It is when they are so packed with activities (this includes ministry activities) that they end up neglecting real needs.
Often, fulfilling experiences can come out of simple but deep conversations with a fellow colleague. My wife, Michelle, recently shared with me a delightful experience she had and it was simply having a deep conversation on a bus ride home with her colleague. Over the course of the last few months, one of the most enjoyable things at work for me was some of the deep conversations I have with different members of my staff. These conversations sometimes happen in a car ride or during lunches or even during some of the breaks in a workshop that I'm conducting.
Create space to relate.
2. Show Grace when it is least expected
Grace is extravagant. Grace is the idea of the Father eagerly waiting for the prodigal son to return home and to give him the best when the son least expects it. Grace is that gift when a person least expects one.
When you are upset and feel like doing something that resembles a tit for tat, pause and take a deep breath. Choose instead to respond in the opposite spirit. Respond in love and kindness. Do something in love for that person who might not deserve it.
Interestingly, I have noticed that people seem to always remember the moments when someone at work goes the extra mile to help with a kind deed. That is love in action. That is extending grace; going beyond what is expected. Beyond the “this is my job” mentality. Over the years, I've lost count of the times my colleagues taught and showed me what practical grace is about.
I'm thankful that I am always reminded to extend grace because of how others have treated me.
3. Pray for our co-workers
There is no better Kingdom-minded way of worshiping God in our workplace than by infusing prayer into every part of our work.
Praying for a colleague at the right moment when we sense that something is weighing on their hearts is a powerful way of obeying the Spirit’s prompting. One of the ways of being led by the Spirit is to be mindful of the opportunity to minister to others through prayer.
The colleague might respond with a simple “thank you” but the work has been done in the heart by the Holy Spirit. If the colleague rejects the moment of prayer (in my experience, that almost never happens), that gesture shown is already an act of love.
4. Encourage others with kind words
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Many may consider that speaking kind words might seem more of a Western than an Asian concept. But, the Bible does encourage us to do more of that.
A practical action would be to catch someone doing something right and to specifically give encouraging words that highlight the right action. Rather than a generic “good job”, be specific and describe the action or attitude. For example, “I saw you restraining yourself when the easier way was to lash out. Good job!”
Learning to catch someone doing good is learning to be observant of Christ-like behavior.
5. Help those in trouble
“The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble” Psalm 9:9
Bullying happens frequently at the workplace. How are you responding to bullying in the workplace?
While the answer is not often straightforward, the one thing we can do is to show concern for those who feel marginalized. Be a listening ear; pray with this person and ask God to replace negative emotions with His compassion. You can also stand up for the injustice when the Holy Spirit prompts you.
6. Honor your leaders
Most of us will usually take issue with these 3 types of leaders we perceive:
While our perceptions might not reflect the truth, they affect our attitudes and our responses.
Honoring the incompetent leader means employing a Christ-like attitude as we empower our leaders to be successful. Find ways to build them up rather than tear them down. Think about what they are good at rather than what they are bad at. Play to our leaders’ strengths. Eventually, we reap what we sow when we become leaders ourselves.
Honoring the uncaring leader means we respond in kindness and compassion. Rather than complaining about their lack of love and care, we initiate and show kindness to these leaders through small acts of love, encouraging words and prayer.
Honoring the dishonest leader does not mean agreeing with malpractice. Honoring means giving value to the person rather than the behavior. This means that we learn to see with the eyes of compassion and believe that God will be the merciful judge. We pray for wisdom to find ways to influence. We pray for courage to reject any dishonest dealings. We pray for restraint from bad mouthing our leader and try our best not to speak ill of a person whom Jesus passionately loves.
7. Practice forgiveness
Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. Many of us find it difficult to apologize and say sorry. It is often even harder to release forgiveness to those who have hurt us. True worship teaches us that the surrendering of our hearts is pleasing to God. Releasing forgiveness to a person is saying to God that we surrender to His sovereign plans and we believe in His amazing grace. Forgiveness is a powerful act of obedience to God.
We can worship God by practicing forgiveness and keeping short accounts. Forgiveness teaches us about the condition of our hearts and reveals our ability to render God as King.
These points have come about about from my own struggles in practising the concept of worship in our workplace. I have learnt over the years is that true worship is really about being a living sacrifice. God does not expect us to be perfect. He sees our struggles and He receives our burnt offerings.
*All scripture quotations have been taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).