by Jen Sanbulte
We’ve all done it. We’ve gone to work and put on the mask, afraid to be at work who we are in Church on Sunday. We hesitate to give people glimpses into our real life and emotions, because it is messy. Instead, we hide. God called us to be light, but many have a hard time figuring out what that looks like at work. And if we’re honest, we all want to be viewed as professional, as good workers, as normal.
Recently I had the opportunity to commune with The High Calling community at Laity Lodge. As we shared with one another, I watched secret after secret pour out from my online friends. We were connecting deeply in real life ways. It seemed each hug and conversation led to yet another set of circumstances that alone would have seemed insurmountable. On the shores of the Frio, I watched Christian believers shine a light in remarkable ways. I’m passionate about being authentic in our faith at work. I couldn’t help but wonder how to create an environment in our everyday lives that mirrors the depth and authenticity we find when on retreat. Where being light isn’t about rules, or denomination but rather connecting and caring.
One of the leaders of the weekend processed Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Here’s what stuck with me, sometimes we need to better understand what our light might be. It’s the amount of light in a room that makes a difference, not the amount of darkness. As I was lost in this thought, Vincent said this, “when shining your light, you are not always going to get the reception you’d hoped for.” I envisioned the days of turning off the lights so you could see the overhead projector to lead training. When you flipped the lights back on, the reaction from the crowd was to cover their eyes and moan a bit. It was too bright. This happens to us in our faith walk. We are all or none when we share. We go from dark to bright light. And people moan and cover their eyes. It’s to sudden of a contrast, and they want the darkness back, or at least time to let their eyes adjust.
Perhaps our walk at work isn’t quite as sharp of a contrast as flipping the light switch. For many, we are more of Christian flashlight. We shine light in one specific spot, where we happen to be focusing. And even in that we can flip the switch on and off as we desire. Our instant gratification society has allowed us the ability to flip on our Christian flashlight when we see the need, but then click it back off. Flashlights work great in storms. Assuming they have charged batteries, they are quick effective way to see quickly. Yet fear is still quite near. When the scary part stops, we turn off the flashlight and put it back in a safe place for the next time we “need” it.
As we look at what a lamp and light would have meant to the New Testament believers, we find a clay bowl or pot with oil and an open flame. I want to be a flame at work. I want to always be burning. Sometimes a flame flickers and sometimes it roars, but it always burns. Flames mesmerize us. We sit and stare in awe at them. When I interact with people at work, I want them to see something different in me. I want to be contagious in my faith at work. A light switch and a flash light are either on or off. You can’t share your light. However, with just small ember of a flame, others catch on fire. Yes, make me a flicker or a flame. The wind will blow, and my oil may run low, but take care of my little light, for I don’t know the influence it is having on those around me.
As I reflect on this light, in light of pneumatology, or the study of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual aspect of human beings, I can’t help but question why we are so quick to hide the Holy Spirit that is at work in us. We do our earthly jobs in our own strength, and press in like a flashlight when we really need God.
What if we allowed that same Holy Spirit to show through us consistently, like a flame. Imagine if whenever others encountered us they could only wonder, what is different? Why are they so kind, truthful, respectful, etc? How can we demonstrate this? We can ask great questions and listened intently. We can stand for what is right, show love, and grace. So many ways to be who God calls us to be in our everyday.
What if others looked at us and felt a stirring to be a better them. To live according to the light and not hide it under a bushel basket for fear that others may see it and think less of them. If we listen to the Spirit Jesus left behind, instead of being put off by difference, we may find a new passion and excitement, not just in our love for the Lord, but also in our Love for our work. And, when we are passionate, hiding is not an option.
Jen Sandbulte is a working mama sharing Jesus in the real world. She’s passionate about teaching Jesus lovers how to be real: at work, home, and church, infusing real prayer techniques for everyday life. Jen and her husband, Tom, have three young kids and two adult children and are chasing Jesus in the process. Connect with her online at www.jensandbulte.com.