To Work or Not to Work: The Struggle is Real.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as you reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 NLT
Ahhh, work, the responsibility we’re told about all our lives. I am sure you have heard one or more of these statements about work before:
“You’ve got to work hard for what you want.” ~My dad.
“Opportunities are often disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” ~Ann Landers
“Nothing worth having comes easy.” ~Anonymous
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” ~Tim Notke
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” ~Anonymous
Given the opportunity, I don’t think any of us are afraid of working toward what we want in this life. However, there seems to be a lot of concern about doing the “right” kind of work. We get all tied up in worry, wondering if what we do is important, worthy… “kingdom changing,” and that worry opens the door for comparison and envy, two behaviors that lead us into chaos.
We have all spent time working, but are we working for the Lord or for people (Including ourselves)? Here are two scenarios from my own life:
I spent years so focused on developing my teaching career that it became my very identity, to the detriment of the relationships in my life. Sure, my work as a high school teacher was important, even “kingdom changing” for the kids I spent hours and hours preparing for, but was that truly working for the Lord?
As a stay at home mom I poured my whole self into raising my kids, to the detriment of my own health. Sure, my work as a mom was influential, even “kingdom changing” as well, but was that truly working for the Lord either?
To “work willingly at all you do as though you were working for the Lord, not for people” means doing what’s in front of you today to the best of your ability from the humble position of seeking to glorify God in your efforts, allowing God to dictate the pace, plan and potential of that work, holding loosely to whatever is in front of you, remembering your identity is in Christ alone.
Making a choice to allow God to be in charge of defining the work we do, humbling ourselves to His authority and leadership, is the first step towards cultivating peace in work.
It’s not for the faint at heart.
I knew in my heart that I was going to be a teacher from the time I was in the second grade. I spent the rest of my formal education fulfilling that calling. The day I entered my first classroom as a teacher I knew I was home. And then I had to leave it all, for what I thought was forever. I was scared: who was I if I wasn’t a teacher? I was anxious: what would l do with my time? Had I wasted all those years of schooling to be a stay at home mom? And, I was angry: I gave my life to You through Jesus and you take the one thing away that was fulfilling to me? Seriously?
That’s what it sometimes looks like when we choose to let God lead us in defining the work we do, because it isn’t about us, it’s about Him.
When we let go of our own expectations, and those that have been thrust upon us by our culture and even those close to us, we can begin to better see that “working for the Lord” isn’t want we have thought it was.
It’s so much better.
Here are some Key Points to remember when Cultivating Peace in Work:
Comparison kills. (page 202) It kills your joy. It kills your passion. It even kills your perseverance. Stop comparing. Instead, champion, encourage, and build others up. Including yourself.
There is no debate about whether or not to work outside the home in Christ’s kingdom. (page 203) There is only God’s plan for each of us, Period. We are not better because we stay home, and not better because we work because there is no “better.” We are each God’s unique creation, created for a purpose which only we can accomplish.
There is no perfect scenario. (page 204) the longer we keep thinking there is some “perfect” way we can make everything work, the longer we will live in chaos. Perfect doesn’t exist. Let. It. Go. It’s killing you. There is no right way to be a woman, whether we’re married or single, with kids or not, working out of the home or not. There is only serving God in what He has placed in front of us to do.
Take the time to understand what is at the root of the chaos you are experiencing. (page 206) If you aren’t happy, why is that? Is it because you want a life different from the one you have? What’s at the root of that desire? Comparison? Envy? Fear? Sit in this a while and seek God’s view. It matters.
We ALL have influence (page 207). To work or not to work outside the home isn’t the question we should be asking ourselves. Instead we should be asking “How can we use the gifts and talents, skills and abilities we have been given to the glory of God today?”
Examine your expectations. (page 207-8). Stop running after standards that are based on cultural and personal expectations, and instead choose to sit with God as He shows you His.
We experience chaos when we aren’t using the influence we have been given in a way that honors God. (page 209-11). If we have no peace in our hearts, our marriages, or our family as a result of the work we are doing (whether inside the home only, or outside of the home as well) it is up to us to choose to seek out God's guidance as to whether or not we should continue, AND what changes we may need to make. When we wait on and follow God’s instruction and follow His peace in making the decision to work outside the home or not, the rest of the areas of our lives will work in harmony with each other.
Much of the angst we may feel in our daily work may also be due to missing one or more of the key principles of developing relationships. (page 212-14) When we are submitted to God’s authority and plan for our lives, our work becomes less about us and more about those we are serving. Have you submitted to His authority? Are you submitted to the authority of those over you at work? Do you offer respect to those around you? Do you forgive as you have been forgiven? Do you live an authentic life? Whether working at home or working outside the home, these four key principles matter in the process of cultivating peace.
Routines are essential for keeping peace. (page 215-16) Whether as a stay-at-home mom or work-outside-the-home mom, routines keep us on track and moving forward. Simply letting each day hit you, without any advance planning or structure, is an opportunity for chaos to reign. There is a way to develop a plan for peace before other things steal it away. (I can help you set up your own personalized plan. Click HERE for more information)
Planning ourselves into oblivion isn’t the way to keep the peace. (pages 216-220) In fact, it ushers in as much chaos as having no plan of action at all. Instead, our goal is to create balance. What does that look like? “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 1:31-2:3) From the beginning God’s way has included rest. Planning for work, play AND rest is the key to living a balanced lifestyle.
The act of learning to receive God’s peace in the midst of your chaos, whether the chaos ins within yourself, within one of your relationships, within your home, or within your daily work is a life-long process. This blog series (I so hope you are reading Cultivating Peace along with this!) is only the beginning. There is so much to learn… but GOD. May we always remember it’s not up to us to make everything work out in our lives, and may we rest in the truth that He is bigger than any chaos we will ever face! (Page 222-3)
Here are this week's assignments: (remember: every reply with a question, comment or critique enters you into a drawing for a free Personal Schedule Management Coaching program with me!)
Color-code last weeks Schedule Tracker. Once you do, reflect on all your previous Schedule Trackers. How far have you come from our first week?
For this final week of the Cultivating Peace online pilot program, download another Schedule Tracker and fill it by adding in your "required" activities, then blocking off a section of the week you can as a starter Sabbath (see pages 220-222 for help with this). Continue with the adding in daily quiet times to be filled by Jesus, a dose of self-care, a date night, and some quality time with your children around the work that needs to be done.
Do questions 1-5 in chapter 8 of Digging Deeper.
Feedback Friday Question: What do I do if I'm stuck in work that is taking everything from me and leaving nothing for myself, my marriage, my children and my home? Join me on my Facebook page for a brief discussion on this (remember, every time you comment on a Feedback Friday post it gives you an entry to a drawing for a FREE Personal Schedule Management coaching program with me!)