Women Christian Speakers — Debbie Simler-Goff
You spend a third of your life at work. Wikipedia says the average American employee works a total of 92,150 hours in his/her lifetime. (Here’s a cool chart from the U.S. Department of Labor that really illustrates this point.) So with such a huge part of our lives spent on the job, does God have a purpose in it beyond providing a means to pay our bills?
How do I know this?
Because God hard-wired human beings for work.
Think about it. We gain a sense of fulfillment from accomplishing tasks. We enjoy creating things, completing things, and being challenged. Our self-esteem is raised when we excel at a task, and we grow in our interpersonal skills through dealing with the wide array of personalities we encounter in the average work day.
And all of these things benefit us in the other areas of our lives, and it is just one of the many reasons that God created us for work.
Our jobs also give us an identity. And we develop a sense of others by finding out what they do for a living. For example, I manage volunteers for a non-profit organization, my brother is a computer engineer, and my son is a mechanic. With no other knowledge about us as individuals but our professions, already you have begun to form an opinion of what we are like.
And all of these things should encourage us to look to God for guidance regarding our work. After all, God knows all of our inner workings. He was there before we were born. He chose our personalities, and equipped us with certain skills and interests. So it only makes sense that God would be the one that we should seek guidance and direction from.
Work: The Meaning of Your Life
One of my favorite books on this topic is Work: The Meaning of Your Life, by Lester Dekoster. I have referred to it again and again as I’ve tried to understand how my role in the marketplace fits with my role in the church. Dekoster says, “…work gives meaning to life because it is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others, and thus to God. God accomplishes his purposes in the world by equipping us with talents, skills and abilities that he expects us to use in service to others…Your daily work, whatever your job, that does give meaning to your life, not because you will now decide to put meaning there but because God has already done so…The gift of ourselves to others through work is the gift of ourselves to God – and this is why work gives both temporal and eternal meaning to life.”
So whatever your vocation, take comfort in the knowledge that the Lord of Glory has gone before you and prepared every detail of your work experience for your benefit, and for the benefit of others. So many times in my own professional life I have found that God often used my work circumstances to teach me things that I would later use in ministry work. The one who orders my steps, was building things in me through the vocation.
Seeing Our Jobs Through God’s Eyes
Once we fully embrace the truth that our jobs are not just something we do to pay the bills, but rather have incredible value beyond anything we could possibly imagine we can look at each work day as an adventure. What will you teach me today Jesus? Who do you want me to connect with? How will the project I am working on contribute in a meaningful way to my world?
Let’s keep the conversation going, and share with one another all the God is doing in us and through us in our jobs. Or share resources that you have discovered. Below is a start of my list. Check back often for updates!
- The High Calling is a great website about seeing Christ and living Christ in the marketplace. I have written for them in the past, and frequently visit their site for encouragement and insight. (See some of my articles for The High Calling below)
- Christian Faith at Work is another web-based community about living Christ in the workplace.
- Today’s Christian Woman has an online section called Career and Calling that has some good offerings on it.
- The book, Transformation by Ed Silvoso is an excellent read about miraculous things that happen in the workplace and governments when Christians get serious about interceding regularly for their role in the marketplace. DISCLAIMER: Silvoso alludes in the book to not attending church regularly, but rather finding church in the marketplace. I strongly disagree with him on this point, but find much of his other content inspiring.
If you have found other resources helpful, please leave a comment below. I’m always looking for vetted resources.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
Professional Persona vs. Christian Character
By Debbie Simler-Goff
This article was first published in 2011 by The High Calling.
Jonathan, a family physician, rarely discusses his faith while at work. Instead, he spends his lunch hour reading his Bible in the seclusion of his office. Yet his staff considers him the most Christian man they know.
Maria, a Call Center Supervisor, has religious symbols and scriptures plastered all over her very visible, glass walled office. She makes it a point to tell everyone from the janitor to the Vice President that she serves Jesus Christ. Many in her office find her tactics offensive.
Falling In Love with Work Again
By Debbie Simler-Goff
Nothing irritated me. Nothing annoyed me. Until I took my eyes off the joy of serving, and started focusing on the workload.
This article was first published in 2011 by Christianity Today’s Faith In the Workplace
My job as a manager for a non-profit company is perfectly suited to my personality. There’s a lot of variety, a lot of challenge, and a lot of interaction with very interesting people from the community. As a matter of fact, many who know me say they couldn’t imagine me doing anything else.
And for the longest time I agreed with them.
I bounced into work every day with a joyful enthusiasm and practically whistled while I worked. There was a gleam in my eye, a song in my heart, and I considered it a privilege to serve my employer.
I took seriously Ecclesiastes 9:10 which says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”
Nothing irritated me. Nothing annoyed me. After all, having my job was a privilege-a gift. The one God chose for me. The one I’d rejoiced over getting. The one I was so grateful to have.
Hearing Christ at Work
By Debbie Simler-Goff
This article was first published in 2010 by The Higher Calling.
The next time you’re at work, pay attention to the sounds around you. Listen—intently. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Take for example the cacophony of mobile phones sounding off, the music-crazed cubicle-dweller that sits across the way, the hum of the water cooler, the overhead announcements, the ringing of the telephone, the cross-talkers who’d rather yell than leave their chairs. Not to mention the annoying coworker who talks so loud you’ve considered purchasing noise cancelling earphones. And then there are the drummers, clickers, and thumpers. These are the individuals who incessantly click a pen, drum on the desk top, or thump their foot against the desk.