As we seek to start dynamic spiritual conversations with the people that we are drawn to, it’s important that first we:
- Experience God’s love and acceptance towards us, and live out of that
- Be filled with God’s love towards others, shown through our instinctive prayers for them
- Live an authentically real and open life with others
Now, thinking externally and directionally towards others, let’s explore what it looks like to practically and tangibly demonstrate God’s infectious love.
The message that Jesus taught, that God's way of life was now available here and now on earth to all who chose to align their lives with Him, was constantly being demonstrated as Jesus lived life with people.
To some, he brought physical healing. To others, emotional healing. For those who were cast aside by society as rejected, he befriended. For those who stopped believing in themselves, he gave hope. Every person was different and had different needs, but he met each one as he was guided by God his Father.
For every encounter Jesus had with people who were open to him, he deposited an experience of God's love in them and around them. Sometimes, he didn't lead with words, he led with actions. Every time, though, sparked a spiritual conversation.
What would it look like for you and I to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and demonstrate God's love towards them in creative and unexpected ways?
What could it look like to strategically and proactively demonstrate God's love? To create experiences, offer gifts, share invitations, recognize accomplishments, encourage the discouraged, celebrate milestones, send notes/texts/emails that communicate God's love?
Before we start spiritual conversations, it's important that we live the message. I love Young Life
's phrase: "Earn the right to be heard."
Let's be so serious about demonstrating the love of God before we start talking about it. Talk, we know, is cheap, unless reinforced with consistent behavior. By the time we're hoping for our conversations to turn towards spiritual matters, wouldn't it be cool if our lives sparked such curiosity that people responded to our questions with, "You know what, I was dying to ask you about that....!"?
What's something you could do- right now- to demonstrate God's infectious love towards someone else? Take a few seconds to get quiet, and ask God WHO and WHAT....and don't wait for the WHEN because it's right now.
I want to know the real YOU. I want to know what makes you tick- what fires you up, what irritates you, what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. I want to know if you've had a good day. And why. I want to know if you had a bad day. I care about YOU.
So do people who you're intentionally becoming friends with to express the love of God towards. They are NOT interested in a contrived, everything is happy, life-is-always-good version of you. They aren't interested in you "becoming all things to all people" by pretending to like things that you don't have any interest in, or doing things that you don't like to do. They want to know the real YOU.
In this third post of a six part series on Starting Everyday Spiritual Conversations, we're going to take a look at what it means to live your life in an authentically passionate, honest and humble way, and allow God to use you to impact others.
If it's true that you and I are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14) then apparently it's no accident that we are the way that we are. If it's true that God knew us before we were born, and "prepared us to do good works" (Ephesians 2:10)
And if we are the way that we are then we must have purpose
and a design
behind who we are: personality, sense of humor, skin color, born into our family, at this point in time, with our unique story.
We are the way we are because God wants us to be the way we are.
And if we are made the way we are then God must want to use us the way we are.
Not the way somebody else is. Not the way I feel like I'm supposed to be. Just me. Just you. Do the people around you know the real YOU?
Do they know how quirky and weird you are? Do they know what you want to do with your life? Do they know who you're voting for? Do they know who your favorite team is? Or what your favorite movie is? Do they know about what or who has hurt you?
We don't really become friends with other people until we start letting our guards down. (That's why road trips, retreats, and living together are so bonding- we just can't keep up the pretending for very long).
God wants to use you. Not the you that you think you're supposed to be. Not the you that you think other people want you to be.
So before you start spiritual conversations, stop acting and start pretending like
Awhile back I was spending time with a recent grad early into his career and helping him think through his new rhythms of life and brainstorm how to continue to grow in his relationship with God.
His challenge: long, long hours at least five days per week if not six, and constant busyness and demands for his attention. In college, he had long hours of uninterrupted prayer times, spiritual conversations with friends, Bible studies, retreats, weekly worship services, and more. Now, he could barely wake up in time to shower, shave, and get out the door- getting home at night was about finishing the laundry and paying bills.
Can you relate?
Christians in the workplace share a common barrier to staying connected with God: time. There are deadlines, stress, projects, meetings and interruptions.
Carving out space before or after work to sit down, breathe slowly, meditate on scripture, and connect with God's presence through prayer is also extremely challenging. There are distractions and noises and sleepiness and traffic.
So what options do you have? Quit your job and enter a monastery? Tell your boss that from now on you need to focus on spiritual growth, so you'll be taking a half hour longer at lunch to pray and study the Bible?
Back to my friend. When we were trying to figure out his life and schedule, one thought popped up:
I said, "How many times a day do you go to the bathroom?" (yes, he looked at me strangely)
"Oh, maybe five, six, or seven times over the course of a long day. Why?"
I said, "Well, let's assume you have a couple minutes every time you go. Seems to me like that would be a great time to have a 'moment' with God."
So began the Potty Quiet Times.
A couple minutes a few times a day to take a deep breath, invite God's presence in, catch up your heart to where it's been over the past couple of hours, maybe repeat a scripture verse a couple times (or maybe even read a quick, short devotional on your phone), and invite God to lead you and guide you for the next couple hours.
Maybe it's a little unconventional, a little profane even. Or maybe a little creative...
In a negative sense, there's a lot of pressure in being a Christian. There's pressure to do a lot of stuff: go to church, read your Bible, pray for your friends and family, pressure to give money, pressure to serve, pressure to be kind, pressure to be moral...
And when you start your first job or internship, there's pressure to be a spiritual influence on those around you and be a leader. You might have Christian friends or a pastor ask you: So, who are you reaching out to at work? Or, has anyone accepted Christ yet in your office?
But I'm not so sure God wanted it to feel like pressure for us. Do you think Jesus felt pressure?
Here's what Jesus said about the kind of pressure he felt to fulfill his calling:
“‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.’ ” John 5:19-20
I don't think he felt pressure in the same way you and I feel it. He seemed at peace, unhurried and unburdened in his interactions and the way he kept his relationships.
Here are some practical ways you and I can get into the same flow that Jesus had:
1. Pray less but more frequently: I know, it sounds mildly heretical, but what I mean is what if you experimented by praying more often throughout the day, like every hour for a minute or two, rather than try to cram all of your prayer requests in on your commute to work. It might shift prayer for you to be more relational and conversational, and you might start catching glimpses of the things God is up to throughout the day. Your life with God would become less compartmentalized.
2. Think like a Spiritual Director: a good spiritual director recognizes that his/her role is to help you identify the movements of God within and around you, and respond to God appropriately with courage and faith. They ask great questions like: Where are you sensing God draw you into relationship with someone? Where are you feeling his invitation to bless someone around you?
3. Use your imagination: what are the things that God is into? Probably things like: being kind, using your words to encourage others, helping people experience acceptance, being a source of healing, working with excellence....when you start living out of a sense of imagination, I think we start catching more glimpses of what God is up to.
What do you need to start or stop doing to experience less pressure but more connection with God?
It's rare to find someone who would admit to not wanting to experience God more regularly in daily and normal life. The fact is, experiencing the presence of God is what fuels our faith and ignites our passion for the things that God cares about. Being used by Him, seeing Him work through your prayers, receiving moments of supernatural coincidence- we hunger and thirst for more of those.
For many, though, there's a false belief about where and when we can experience God the most. We all tend to believe, and the message is reinforced at church, that God's presence dwells more in religious settings: worship services, retreats, quiet prayer times, small group meetings, housebuilding projects, etc.
Unless Jesus was lying (not a great premise to get yourself trapped in...!), his presence was and is available fully at all times and in all places.
But what about in the workplace?
Is it possible
to experience God-- in a cubicle
To encounter God and hear his voice-- while in a meeting
To see the fingerprints of God-- while staring at your computer screen
To experience more of God's presence, we need to be watchful
for Him to show up. Good, proper theology (thinking about God) would say God's presence is everywhere, always. To connect and tap into it, we must be mindful of him, consciously becoming more aware of Him and inviting Him to reveal Himself to you.
Many people have found it helpful to shoot for the Brother Lawrence or Apostle Paul goal of "praying without ceasing"- consciously offering more and more of your mind and heart to be tuned into the frequency of God.
An intermediate step could be to appoint regular times to pause and pray throughout the day, similar to what monks would do in a monastery. Put an alarm on your phone, or an appointment in your calendar.
A simple prayer and a minute or two might be all you need to reorient yourself to God, reconnect with His presence, and become more aware of what He's up to. I would HIGHLY recommend Pete Scazzero's website Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
, specifically his guides for daily prayer in your everyday life
What works for you to connect with God's presence more often and more powerfully? What do you need to do next?
It's perhaps a silly or sacrilegious premise, but an important thing to consider. If Jesus was an intern at a company, let's choose Qualcomm, what would be on his performance review? What can you imagine his supervisors thinking about him?
First of all, I can think of a few things that probably wouldn't be there:
- Disengaged: because Jesus doesn't know what he wants to do in life (his calling), he chose this job as a back-up. He doesn't like it, and rather than pouring his heart and soul to do the best he can, he does the bare minimum and floats through his assignments.
- Lack of Initiative: he does what he's supposed to do, but no more. I've never heard him ask, "Is there anything else I can help with?"
- Poor Follow-through: he regularly commits to his assignments, but frequently doesn't finish them on time. He forgets action items, and it seems like his social life outside of work takes precedent over work assignments.
- Self-Serving: he seems like he's most interested in his own career. When things go well, he's quick to take credit. When things go poorly, he's quick to offer excuses and explanations.
I just can't imagine those things said about him.B
esides being a joy to be around, besides taking initiative, working with excellence and creativity, besides pouring himself into his assignments and friendships with co-workers, he would be an intern that adds value not only by his work performance but also by his presence and attitude. If Jesus is your model for living life, consider taking a few moments to imagine what Jesus would do if he were you. What kind of students would Jesus be if he took your classes? What kind of teammate would he be in your group projects? What kind of employee would he be at your job?
What's a movement?
Here's what's quoted in Seth Godin's book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
A movement is:
- A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build
- A connection between and among the leader and the people
- Something to do- the fewer the limits the better
So, here's the Faith@Work movement:We are a group of college students and young professionals who are passionately pursuing what it means to follow Jesus into the workplace, on mission together to awaken others and organizations to God and his purposes. We envision a future where every company and organization has a dynamic and intentional witnessing community of people who love Jesus with heart, soul, mind and strength, and their influence reshapes culture, shifts who profit is for, allows God's spirit to reign, and sees sacred moments in secular environments. I'm Scott. I am wired by God to teach, inspire and lead others into encountering God and influencing others towards God's kingdom. I am passionate about the workplace- after six internships in different companies, countless hours in coaching/mentoring relationships with young professionals and college students, and years of studying life inside the workplace, I have a heart to see a generation awoken to God's potential for them. Here's what you should do: grab another person (text them, Gchat them, Facebook message them, ask them to a cup of coffee) and say something like: "I really want to do life and work well- pressing fully into all that God is and has for me. What if we got together and started to figure out what that meant together?" Then establish a regular time to meet, pray, and go through worksheets designed to help you focus your lives around God's mission. Start there. Come back here and share stories of how/where God shows up.
I'm a big believer in spiritual disciplines- attending church, time meditating on scripture in solitude, worship and confession- things that we do outside of work to connect with God.
But I'm really interested these days to figure out what it could mean to connect with and encounter God at work. Unless Jesus was exaggerating or lying (I wouldn't suggest going down that path), he promised that his presence would be available and prevalent EVERYWHERE. So, why is it, when I ask people what it means for them to integrate their faith into their work, that almost everyone responds by listing things they do OUTSIDE OF WORK?
Could it be that we don't believe Jesus? Maybe God truly is absent from 8-5, except to remind us to be moral and ethical. But I don't think so.
I think we need to discover new ways to SEARCH FOR and ENCOUNTER God's presence in everyday life, not just religious settings.
God is at work. He's in the classroom. He's in late night study sessions, groups projects, emails, budget meetings, performance reviews, and spreadsheets. He's everywhere. All the time. Always available to connect with. Always speaking. Always guiding. Always dynamically intersecting into our lives.Do you remember what it was like to pull a prank or stunt when you were in high school? That thrill, excitement, danger that you shared with your friends? Maybe when you toilet paper'd someone's house, or lit a flaming bag of you-know-what on fire? I think Jesus intended for us to have that same sense of electricity now, with him, as we had then.A few ideas:
- Pray the hours. At certain intervals throughout the day, stop what you're doing for 3-5 minutes and re-center your heart on God. Ask Him to make His presence known to you. Surrender what you've been trying to control. Let go of things you're worried about. Ask Him to guide your heart, thoughts, words, and actions.
- Built-in reminders of God. I have friends who stop to pray for a second every time the phone rings or the email chimes in their inbox. Yes, it's disruptive, but they tell me that it's a great way to remember how present God is. I even have a friend who has a 'quiet-time' with God every time he goes to the bathroom. Sacred invading the secular?
- Connect with a friend. It's difficult, if not impossible, to have a dynamic, interactive relationship with God without friends on the journey. Do you have a friend who might also long to see and connect more with God at work? What if you met for a meal once a week to talk about it? What if you texted or G-chatted together throughout the day, reminders to pray and a way to share stories of seeing God at work?
What works for you?
How much of your life has become routine and monotonous? How long has it been since something truly REMARKABLE and EXCITING interrupted your day-- so much so that you HAD to text or call a friend to tell them about it?
Remember what it was like to be on a mission trip? Every single morning your entire team woke up EXPECTING that today you would see a miracle, see God move powerfully, and CERTAIN that you would be used to usher in God's power and presence.
Why don't you expect that to happen today, in your 'normal life'?
"Now we live with great expectation..." 1 Peter 1:3
Everyone I've talked to recently has shared with me how hard it is to be at your spiritual best while working. Despite best intentions and despite a healthy diet of spiritual activities (ie. church on the weekends, attending a Bible study, listening to worship music in the car), people struggle. It might not be difficult to 'keep the faith' in a big sense of the phrase, but in terms of day in and day out sensing God's presence and the thrill that accompanies walking in step with the active God:
Our faith can barely survive work.
There's one major reason for that- our paradigm of being a Christian in the workplace is wrong.
It's not your fault. Somewhere on your spiritual journey someone told you that the definition of being a really good Christian is someone who engages in a lot of Christian stuff with other Christians, all in addition to your normal life. When you walk into church, sit down and read through the list of announcements, it's clear that if you want to grow spiritually and get in touch with God then you'd better fill your mornings, nights and weekends with church activities. Small Groups, Classes, Trips, Projects, Leadership Teams...
All of that so you can be filled up with God.
The predominant metaphor and paradigm for a healthy Christian life is someone who is filled up through church things and then sent out. Filled up with knowledge, filled up with community, filled up with prayer and then sent out into 'the world' only to have the knowledge, community, prayer, faith, peace, joy, love drained out of you.
If you get filled up at church, then the flipside of that message is that all other things drain your spiritual life.
If you can make it as a filled-up person from Sunday-Sunday, that might be ok, but it would be better if you could get your fill sometime mid-week, like a Bible Study class or Small Group. And if you need some extra filling then try a morning quiet time. All of these events like spikes on your spiritual health graph.
But, wait a second. I get that that is our experience: we have a spiritual moment at a church event, and then back to reality and pressure of our to-do lists. But, doesn't that paradigm deserve a little more examination?
Actually, it's really bad theology.
Remember that whole thing when the curtain was torn in the temple when Jesus died, kind of a 'God's-presence-has-left-the-building' moment? Or that time when Jesus promised to send his Spirit to us, His presence to be with us to speak to us, guide us, and remind us of what's true- was he talking about keeping the Holy Spirit inside church functions rather than a Spirit on the loose?
To think rightly about spirituality in the workplace would require us to replace a paradigm of Faith Survival with one that enables our faith to thrive.
God is just as available to us in a cubicle as in a sanctuary. Just as present in a performance review as in a quiet time. He's just as powerfully close to us in staff meeting as in a worship service. He's just as close, just as strong, speaking just as loudly, available to be worshiped, listened to, and willing to give himself at work as in religious settings.
It's time to think about accessing God at work. It's time to consider that a dynamic, thrilling relationship with God is within your reach- at work. He wants you to connect with him in a powerful, rich, exciting way. He wants to do work with you. He wants to get your attention and help you see people around you that the two of you can bless together. He wants to share his wisdom with you for the projects you're working on. He wants to drop inexplicable peace, joy, and patience on you.
He's right by your side. Available. Not hoping that your faith survives your work- he wants you to THRIVE.
What would change in your world if you knew that God wanted to connect with you at work? What would you need to think about or do differently in order to thrive?