Propel Sophia   

Offering Our Work as Worship: How to Find Jesus in the Workplace

By Kara Martin

I walked into the newsroom with a huge sense of excitement and anticipation. Ever since I had learned to read by asking my mum to sound out letters in newspaper headlines, I wanted to be a journalist. Finally, I had arrived.

It was a regional television station and I was the most junior reporter. One of the things I was passionate about was expressing my faith in my workplace, but right from the start I realised that would be difficult.

Journalism is a stressful work culture. We had to file three stories a day, while our city counterparts worked on one. Stress alleviation in the office often included swearing, crude humour, and drinking. Though I didn’t initiate any of those, I could not escape them either.

Then there was the temptation to flattery. We flattered politicians and celebrities to get interviews. We flattered ourselves with the mini-stardom of being recognised on the streets because our faces were in people’s living room each night. I worried about getting caught up in smooth-talking and mirages, and how that might compromise my integrity.

So being Christian for me in journalism meant being good, humble, hard-working, and taking every opportunity to witness. But I soon suspected God was interested in more than how I worked.

I started to ask why God had placed me there. My church had few answers that satisfied, but I sensed it had something to do with revealing truth and upholding Gospel values.

The thought that God might be interested in the work I was doing was a revolutionary thought in my Christian circles: could it really be that God is interested both in what I am doing and who I am when I am doing it?

I reflected on his purpose for humanity: to join in relationship with God in stewarding his creation (Genesis 1:26).  His first command, after all, was to “work the earth and keep the garden” (Genesis 2:15). We had been made to work, but how could we work in a context that seemed so far from the garden?

The clue for me came in the Hebrew word for “work” (avad) and “keep” (shamar), which are the same words for worshipping God and keeping his commandments. Our work is a means of worshipping God.

I also began to realise that I didn’t have the burden of taking God to work, though I was the only Christian there. I became aware that God was already there, doing his thing, and asking me to join in. After all, Jesus was sovereign over everything; he was Lord even of the newsroom since “all things have been created in him and through him” (Colossians 1:17)

From that time on I’ve been learning how to connect our Sunday worship with our Monday work . . . how we can workship.

Today, I have the privilege of mentoring women in many fields: business, ministry, social entrepreneurial efforts and university.

For them, it is a massive relief to discover that being a fully committed Christian does not mean giving up their day job for full time ministry. God is keen to use them where they are, doing his work of creating, sustaining, redeeming, and offering a taste of the New Creation to others.

True, I once thought full time vocational ministry was the only way I could be a Christian at work. I now see—alongside other women—that there are many ways we can worship God in our work: prayerful working, incarnational service, Spirit-empowered leadership, social justice action, to name just a few.

Yet, we still have a lot to learn.

Not long ago I was running a meeting with Trish, an Australian leader of a large overseas organisation. She explained how much she focuses her decision-making to reflect the character of Jesus. She talked about how she spends significant time praying through her daily routine, and described how close she feels to God when she is in a boardroom, how she feels God's presence as she relies on him. As a result, her colleagues wondered why she was different which prompted many conversations.

When someone in our meeting asked what Trish was doing for her local church, I had to politely interrupt and explain that we were listening to a sister in Christ who saw her daily career as her place of ministry!

The church's function is to equip people to do God's work in whatever setting someone feels called. We’re not to make others feel guilty for not giving more. Instead, we’re called to make our churches a place of refuge and nurture, teaching and prayer that empowers women to be Christ's light in otherwise dark places, wherever they’re employed.

Church is the place where we gather with others to celebrate God’s work in Jesus for our sakes, and then are sent out as His body scattered to work for his glory. So let’s ask God how we, and our local churches, can better serve and support the great work others are doing for Christ whatever their jobs.

 

Kara Martin

Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to use your work to worship God, and Workship 2: How to flourish at work. She is also a lecturer with Mary Andrews College, the training college of Anglican Deaconess Ministries in Sydney. She has worked in media and communications, human resources, and policy development roles and has a particular passion for integrating Christian faith and work as well as helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations.