November 5, 2012

Integrating Faith with Your Work

 

A few years ago, my pastor was preaching on holistic faith. “If you go through the whole day,” he said, “and never have a thought about God, your priorities may be out of whack.”

The guilt set in.

I was an English teacher. Once the first bell rang, I lived and breathed literature with my students all day long. I bounced around the room doing my best to serve them. I raced through email. I snarfed lunch down in 30 seconds, then rushed to hall way duty. Between classes, I tried to check the boy’s restroom. (It was always disgusting.)

Thinking through my typical day, I decided the pastor was missing the mark in his advice to the church. Sure, he thought about God all day. That was his job.

My job was to serve high school students and teach them to write and communicate and believe in themselves. It took all of my brain to do that. My brain doesn’t have a fancy dual processor. I’m not good at being double-minded, nor do I think it would even be good.

Which is to say this. Praying without ceasing doesn’t make me think I should keep a running silent prayer going in my head while I’m trying to teach English, edit The High Calling, or check the cleanliness of a bathroom. Instead, it means that I should approach all of these things–teaching, editing, potty patrol–as a kind of prayer offering to God.

Recently, on The High Calling, I read an article by Susan DiMickele about the connection between our personal life and our work. Something she said at the end reminded me that we don’t have to consciously integrate our faith and work. Sometimes it is conscious. But often the integration happens through reflection at the end of the day or at the end of a week.

Susan writes, “I too fight against a life of dualism. Many days, I don’t have a spiritual thought in the office.  And I certainly don’t view my professional life as an extension of my personal life. It’s just easier to keep things separate.”

Like Susan, I’ve had many days without a single spiritual thought. But this doesn’t mean she and I have embraced dualism. It simply means our brains can only process so much at a time. When faced with complex tasks that require deep concentration and focus, we focus.

Later, we reflect. Later, we evaluate our integration. Later, we look back and see where God was with us in that moment even though we were not consciously aware of his presence.

We don’t have to work hard to integrate faith and work. God gives us this integration by grace. The more we pay attention to what he is doing, the more peace we will feel. But he is working in and through our lives regardless.

 

Photo cc by Lauren Manning on Flickr.

Originally Published: November 5, 2012
Category: Work
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