In a recent blog post, I asked “Can Your Work Make a Difference in Your Faith?” Since then, I’ve been offering different perspectives on this question, seeking to show that the integration of faith and work doesn’t just flow in the “faith influences work” direction. It also flows upstream, in the “work influences faith” direction as well.
A friend of mine recently shared with me a striking example of how her work has spurred significant growth in her faith. This friend, whom I’ll call, Mattie, has an MBA from a top business school and plenty of work experience. She is a seasoned professional as well as a mature Christian. After she told me about the impact her work had had upon her faith, I asked if she would write down what she said so I could share it with my blog readers. Mattie graciously agreed. Here’s what she wrote:
Over the past few months, I have experienced a wonderful, painful, steep period of spiritual growth. This growth has occurred largely through my work.
A number of months ago, I was introduced to the concept of viewing my everyday work experiences as opportunities to create and practice more Christlike responses. Over time, with intentional practice, these responses could become Christlike habits and eventually Christlike character. And then a few months ago I began to experience a period of intense failure at work – where my best laid plans did not come to pass (again and again and again). My natural response was to feel dejected, incompetent, insecure and ultimately unacceptable.
And then I focused my efforts toward creating and practicing more Christlike responses – responses rooted in the gospel. I told myself (again and again and again) that I have been made worthy of love and acceptance by God’s grace alone. My work performance doesn’t change this one iota. I did my best to prayerfully discern and follow God’s will in more and more of my work situations, and then I reminded myself (again and again and again) that there is no shame or fear within the will of God. I intentionally stopped thoughts of incompetence and worry, and replaced them with thoughts of purpose, God’s faithfulness and the design he has given me.
God has chosen to bless these efforts, and the results have been nothing short of life changing. I can honestly say I am experiencing more fruits of the Spirit. I can also say I sleep better. I can better take and benefit from critical feedback. I am more collaborative, confident and creative. I am a better, more capable worker.
God is so good to give us our daily work as opportunities to form us toward Chistlikeness and bring us fullness of life!
Mattie’s work, especially her experience of failure at work, opened her heart to receive more of God’s grace and to be formed in new ways through God’s Spirit. As she sought to live her faith at work, her work made a significant difference in her faith.