Rethinking Our Work Renews Our Minds
Phalaenopsis orchids are stunning and one of my favorite flowers. They come in a variety of colors and will hold their blooms for weeks. Their beauty is radiant from any angle—up close, from a distance, in bunches and as a singleton.
Scripture is like this, in that its truths have a multi-dimensional radiance about them. Passages have relevance to all areas of our lives regardless of our demographics and socioeconomic station in life. Romans 12:2 is one of these where the command to renew our minds can take many forms.
The Collaborative exists to challenge believers to “rethink” how we view our work. This process, done rightly, will bear the fruit of a renewed mind. Rethinking in a manner that is most productive is not one action, but a collection of practices—reading, praying, and posturing. Spending time in Scripture seems to be a tired statement, but it is an axiom that is paramount to this endeavor. An engaged reading of spiritual giants of the past and present (although I would recommend beginning with the past ones) regarding faith, work, economics, and culture is an important practice to adopt. This is why we have recommended reading listed on the website under the Resources tab.
Along with reading, praying is a practice that needs to be cultivated and nurtured, much like my orchids. Praying through your work may be a new idea for some, but I can attest from personal experience, praying through my work has been a transformational exercise over the years. Work so dominates certain seasons of our lives that we ought to be in an ongoing dialogue with God through expressions of thanksgiving, cries of repentance, and pleas of petitions.
Work so dominates certain seasons of our lives that we ought to be in an ongoing dialogue with God through expressions of thanksgiving, cries of repentance, and pleas of petitions.
What do I pray for, regarding my work?
Here are a few ideas that could be praise, confession, or requests:
- for passion where there is none;
- for wisdom when you are extremely frustrated;
- for direction when nothing seems to be going your way;
- for better understanding my work as part of the Lord’s redemptive plan for creation;
- for clarity when everything in you says go and everything else says stay;
- for the joy of my salvation to show-up;
- for financial relief; and
- for seeing meaning in my work even in those parts I abhor.
Both reading and praying are important pieces to renewing our minds, but our posture is equally so. It is a posture of humility that will make a difference in our collection of practices. One of the spiritual giants of our past is Andrew Murray, who says, “…humility is the very essence of holiness. It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing.”
Humility at work
So, how does humility relate to our work? What if we are the CEO? Doesn’t humility run counter to strong leadership? We can start formulating our answers by looking to Ecclesiastes 3, which reminds us to love our work and to be grateful for our work because it is a gift. There are numerous passages of Scripture that reference humanity as image-bearers, which reinforces that we are in the midst of those who bear God's very image. Author and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis says, “We have never seen a mere mortal.” Believing this philosophically is easy, but seeing our co-workers, clients, and customers (even those people who drive us crazy) as image-bearers is a whole other matter. Knowing what humility looks like in our offices is not always self-evident, but I have been convicted that I am constantly supposed to be striving for it, albeit imperfectly, because as Murray says, “Humility before God is nothing if it is not proven in humility before others.”
Reconsidering our work under the rubric of God’s plan of redemption (by reading, praying, and adopting a posture of humility) is just one aspect of how when you renew your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). This is one of those lifelong pursuits for believers and for all those who join in greater fulfillment in our work, but most importantly is it the greater unity with Christ, perhaps the sweetest blessing of all.
For more discussion on the renewing our minds, listen to Dr. David Swanson’s sermon, from October 16, 2016.