There are four sections for tonight’s journal assignment: 1) Do you listen for God where you work? 2) In what concrete ways do you assume that responsibility? 3) If your answer to the first question is “no,” explain why? and 4) Drawing on your answers, how would you evaluate your experience? How could you improve it?
What is especially funny about this assignment is that I sent a link to this journal to my boss last night! Little did I know that work would be the focus of tonight’s journal. But I am committed to being honest, so here we go! If my resume is posted on this site next week, you’ll know what happened!
Seriously. The Benedictine motto is “Ora et Labora” – Prayer and Work. (As an aside, my grandmother’s name was Ora and I wonder if anyone knew what the Latin translation was). We think of the spiritual life mostly as prayer and worship, but the Benedictine way of life connects work to the spiritual life as well. They are not to be separated.
As I mentioned last night, however, I probably have separated my work life from my spiritual life. Now, by that I do not mean that my colleagues are unaware of my spiritual life at all. They are aware of the fact that I’m working on a theology degree, most of them are aware that I regularly fast and why I fast, and most are aware of what I am doing right now. So they are all aware that I am a Christian and I have an active relationship with God. We have conversations about God and theology and my practices, so in that sense my spiritual life is a part of work. And I have become more comfortable with this over time.
However, where I am seriously deficient is in listening for God where I work and in seeing what I do – right now – as a spiritual practice. Whatever else God has called me to do in the future, in the right now I am a fundraiser and I am called to approach that as a sacred activity that should be approached as a way of encountering God’s presence. And I can’t say that I’m really to that point yet. I often struggle with work and view it as something I have to do so that I can do all of the other things I want to do. I often see it as something that is required, instead of something that can be a blessing.
I think that one of the ways that we are most like God is when we are creating things. The Bible first introduces us to God as a creator. Yet I have found that I really struggle with the effort required to create something for the first time. I have a training module that we’ve been in the process of creating for months, but I have let it languish because I lack the energy or will or commitment or vision or something to get it done. When I finish it, I will likely have created something of real value, but I can’t seem to get there. At least I understand why God had to take a day off after creating all week! Can I see work as a form of prayer and worship? Talk about paradigm shifts!
I have joked with my friends from school that my job is to minister to rich people. One way to shift my view about my work and to find God in it is to see it as a form of ministry. I have seen the joy on the faces of donors as they have met students or faculty they support. I have seen the impact that a scholarship can have on a life of a student who might not be able to afford medical school. There is so much good done as the result of my work that it should be easy for me to find God present in it. My work can have whatever meaning I give it.
I think, perhaps, that this is something I just won’t be able to accomplish without the support of others. Perhaps it is a blessing I sent a link to this to my boss.