Seven Steps to Finding God at Your Desk
When the copier jams or coworkers get on our nerves, work seems anything but spiritual. But we can find faith on the job.
BY: Brian Finnerty
The spirituality of work, according to Catholic teaching, is based on the example of Jesus, who began our redemption by working as an obscure carpenter in Nazareth. Our own everyday work can be a way imitating Jesus and joining in his work of salvation. Even the everyday frustrations of work can help us, if they become a way of uniting ourselves with Jesus on the cross.
How can we live this idea in practical terms? Here are seven tips for turning your job into a vocation:
1. Start your day with a prayer. Offer God all the work you will do today.
This offering can be simple: "Dear God, this day belongs to you. Help me make this day an act of love for you." God wants you to do your work. He wants you to do it for him. The thought "I'm doing this for someone I love" can make even tedious tasks seem less like drudgery.
2. Throughout the day, raise your mind and heart to God. Pick a short prayer you can repeat through the day.
These prayers can be quotes from scripture or the liturgy, childhood prayers, etc.: "The Lord is my light and salvation"; "Jesus I love you"; "My Lord and My God." With these short prayers, you can talk to God all day long and keep on working. Every time the phone rings, say the prayer. Every time you enter the office, say the prayer.
3. Keep a visual reminder of God in your work area.
We all keep pictures of our loved ones around us. It keeps them at our side. So too with God. The reminder doesn't have to be conspicuous. It can be a tiny crucifix placed discreetly on your desk, or an object from nature to remind you of the beauty of God's creation. If you work at a PC, add a picture of Jesus, Mary, or a favorite saint to your Windows desktop. When you see your reminder, use it to raise your heart to God.
4. Use the difficulties of the day to unite yourself to Christ on the Cross.
Jesus tells us that if we wish to be his disciples, we must take up our cross each day and follow him. We do this at work by accepting-with a smile-the small crosses God sends us. When a coworker irritates us, we can remember how Jesus remained patient with people who were against him. When we are bored or tired or the copier jams, we can unite our minor trials with Jesus' bigger ones by saying, "Lord, I accept this little hardship in union with your sufferings."
5. Do the best job you can, even if nobody is going to notice: God notices.
If we work for God, we do the best we can for him. It's our way of showing him that we love him; we give him the best we can. We can be sure that when Jesus worked as a carpenter, he didn't do shoddy work. Neither should we. Pay attention to the details; finish your work. "Almost done" might fool the boss or the client, but not God. Besides, who really is the Boss?
6. Do your work as service to others.
"The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve." Every job is a way of helping others. God wants us to see it that way and do it that way. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor is our boss, our colleagues, our customers, our clients, our students, our patients. With a spirit of service we don't complain about others, we don't criticize others, we don't gossip about others.
7. Work hard, but don't be a workaholic.
Don't let work drown out God and family. If you are married, get home for dinner with the family. Keep some energy for your family: they need a spouse, a parent, and not a zombie. Sunday is for church, family and cultural activities. Even God rested on the seventh day.
Following these steps, we can turn work into an adventure of faith. As Saint Josemaria Escriva wrote, God "waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating theatre, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."