Keeping Your Mind on God from 9 To 5

Keeping Your Mind on God from 9 To 5
Elsa Houtz


One day last year I forgot to wear my watch to work. I must have asked my coworkers “What time is it!” every twenty minutes. I’m sure I came close to driving them crazy.

Most of us live by the clock – meetings, appointments, deadlines, kids’ school and activity schedules, church events. If one appointment runs longer than expected, we’re late for the next one. Some days it feels as though we need a stopwatch to keep our split-second scheduling on course.

No wonder it’s difficult to set aside time for spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, evangelism, and worship. We know that God has ordained these disciplines as integral components of the Christian life, but where in our logjammed schedules do we fit them in?

The first step is to change our view of the spiritual disciplines from optional to essential. We find time to go to work, to get our cars and our garbage disposals repaired, to go to the doctor when we’re ill. That’s because we view these things as essential, not optional.

Spiritual well-being is no less essential. We need to replace the question “How am I going to find time for the spiritual disciplines?” with “Which part of the day or week will I set aside for the spiritual disciplines?” Once we give them priority we can find creative ways to allot time for them.

We all need to set aside regular times each week when we can spend quality time focusing on God. But the spiritual disciplines don’t have to stop there. We can supplement those times of “feasting” with “spiritual snacks” throughout the day. Since work consumes a large percentage of our waking hours, we can begin to view our work situations as a context for spiritual disciplines.

Working with God

The workplace creates unlimited opportunities to practice Christian living. For example, if a supervisor treats us unfairly, we can ask ourselves, “What would Christ do in this situation?” If a coworker blasts us verbally, we can practice letting the Holy Spirit dictate our response. Then a coworker’s emergency at home creates a backlog at work, we can practice compassion and service by lending a helping hand. But we’re more likely to respond to this kind of situation in a Christlike manner if we have made a habit of bringing the disciplines with us to work.

Here are suggestions to help you start developing your own practice of spiritual disciplines in your work day.

1. Take advantage of down time. Keep a small devotional book or a compact Bible in your pocket, purse, or briefcase, and pull it out when you unexpectedly have time on your hands. If the dentist is running late, wouldn’t you rather read God’s Word than a brochure on gum disease?

2. Get mileage out of your travel time. After a friend told me about a new Christian radio station, I started listening to it during my forty-minute drive to work. A daily commute can be an enjoyable worship experience when it includes Christian music, Scripture readings, preaching, and prayer.
Whether you drive or use public transportation, you can use travel time for informal conversations with God, asking Him to help you with problems or simply expressing your praise and thanksgiving.

You can also use this time for reflection on how to apply Scripture to the work day, how to begin healing a strained relationship at work, or how to reach out to a new employee.

3. Set aside a minimum of one lunch hour and one coffee break a week. This doesn’t necessarily mean you spend the time reading your Bible and praying, although it certainly could. Consider using the time to get better acquainted with a coworker who seems open to the gospel or is struggling with personal problems. Or invite a Christian friend to lunch and use the time to build up one another in the Lord.

If you normally eat lunch out, try bringing a sack lunch from home one day or more a week. Set aside the money you save for your church’s missions fund or another special need. Or you could add the change you would normally put in the office vending machines to your weekly church offering.

4. Keep a “jotting journal.” The workplace offers a smorgasbord of spiritual learning opportunities, but the pressures of work often mean that we can’t take full advantage of them. Consider keeping a small notebook for jotting down questions, issues, or experiences you want to follow up later.

For example, if an ethical question arises, make a note to pursue it lately through Bible study, prayer, and the counsel of others. If you had an opportunity to witness to someone but got cold feet at the last minute, jot down a reminder to work on your witnessing skills.

Be sure to follow through on your journal notes, either during your usual quiet time or maybe during your drive home at the end of the day.

5. Schedule checkpoints into your day. In the morning write at least two “spiritual checkpoints” in your appointment book. Then that time rolls around, take two or three minutes to ask: Am I depending on God, or am I working in my own strength? Am I letting Christ be seen through me today?

Using this system can help get a derailed relationship back on track or smooth over a conflict. The discipline of building checkpoints into each day keeps Christ’s example before us instead of letting worldly values and the demands of the day crowd Him out.

Riches All Day Long

Christians in the workplace have a unique role to play in God’s Kingdom on earth. Yet it’s all too easy to “leave God at home” after we close our Bibles in the morning. Amid the paper clips, time cards, phone messages, and project pressure, let’s be sure to remember the Christ is always Chairman of the Board. We serve Him best when we conscientiously and consistently cultivate the spiritual riches that are available to us throughout the day.

The Reader’s Ideas

* Every Wednesday I meet with other Christian business men for breakfast, prayer, and Bible study at a local restaurant. This is a time to let our hair down and talk about family and business problems. The fellowship helps us grow spiritually and emotionally
and develop self-esteem.

* Every Tuesday and Wednesday I pack a sack lunch to eat quickly at work, then spend the remainder of my lunch hour doing a Bible study.

* Several evenings a week I take a slow, late-night walk around the block, using that time for praise and prayer. I get away from household distractions and seldom meet other people.

* I have a Bible verse taped to the dashboard of my car to read and meditate on at stoplights.

* In my office workspace, I have placed Bible verses and Christian slogans in strategic places (on the computer, inside a drawer) to remind me to read my Daily Bread and Scripture.

* I have breakfast alone in a muffin shop every day on my way to work (I teach). I try to have a quiet time then – praying and reading the Word and writing in my journal.

(The above material appeared in Issue 74, 1993 of the Discipleship Journal.)

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