Reflecting On Work

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 

Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/eph.6.5-9.esv


Reflection Question: Is my work worshipping God?
I thought about this after reading the verse above, and I think it’s a great question for anyone who calls himself a Christ-follower. While I don’t believe that there are “Christian companies”, just as there are no “Christian bands”, or “Christian T-Shirts”, there are Christian people, and only Christian people. A Christian is someone who folows Christ, not someone who is affiliated with a certain group or organization, neither is it a t-shirt or piece of music as neither can follow Christ, even as they can be used by a human Christ-follower for worship. So while a Christ-follower may be affiliated with an organization, it doesnt mean that being affiliated with that organization means thst a person is a Christ-follower. I say all of this to make one point: the responsibility of thriving as a Christ-follower is on each individual, not on the groups they are affiliated with. The sincerity, progress, amd impact of your spiritual life has more to do with your own submission to Christ than your pastor’s, small group leader’s, or family’s.

In other words, your work matters greatly. This is both a good thing and a threatening thing, but before I expound on why, let me provide a more useful defintiion of work, as many simply think “my work is my job”, which is wrong.

DEFINITION: My work is the collection of every prodcutive act I engage in.

My productive acts are anything I do to develop, forward, or expand the different facets of my life, mainly:


• Physical

• Mental

• Spiritual

• Social

• Emotional

So when asking myself the reflection question, “Is my work worshipping God?”, I can rephrase it to:

“Is my (collection of every productive act) worship to God?”
And even, “Are the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional things I do worship to God?”

As we can see, when we deepen our understanding of work, we realize that it is impossible to separate worshipping God with our work without engaging in the development, forwarding, and expanding of the different facets of our lives.

We also need to deepen our understanding of worship from just singing and dancing, but to:
sincere, extreme adoration, honor, and submission

The person, thing, or idea we sincerely, extremely, adore, honor, and submit to is what we are truly worshipping.

Going back to the question, we can rephrase it again to:

Is my work (collection of every productive act) worship (sincerely, extremely adoring, honoring, and submitting) to God?”
And, “Are the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional things I do sincerely, extremely adoring, honoring, and submitting to God?”

Like all verses should, Ephesians 6:5-9 moved me to reflect on my work, not so much how satisfied I am, or how much I’m making, or whether I have work life balance, but whether I am truly worshipping God. Working for God means I should be most excellent because the One I’m trying to please is most excellent. When I complain or grumble about my work situation, about my team, about my customers, and about my great effort, I’m forgetting that I’m supposed to be working for God, and should I not strive to give Him the very best of me at work? And should I not fix my diet, fix my routines, and adopt healthy habits for these allow me to give God better worship? Shouldn’t I also order my mental life, read books, study, make myself wise, as these can also be used develop, further, and expand my worship to God?

If we are to worship God with our work, and work is every productive act we engage in, should we not engage in more productivity than anyone else, for we are driven not by mere necessity nor love for ourselves but love for God and others? Should we not be the hardest working and most productive people in the world?

I think we should. And I think we, as so-called Christ-followers, should never be idle, never wasteful, nor selfishly living off others (including their parents if they are adults, or riding on the coattails of colleagues at work when our own contribution is tiny), just as we should never be greedy, never unkind or mean, never usurious, and never unfair.

Here’s some notes I gave myself to make this verse practical:

  • Start by setting goals for every area of your life (spiritual, physical, social, emotional, mental).
  • List down 3 routines per area that you will adopt (ex: daily devotions at 5am, gym at 530am, read a page a day).
  • Stick to these routines faithfully (even better, do them without taking selfies or sharing every step of the way).
  • If you don’t have s job, get a job – even if it isn’t your passion. You don’t need more prayer nor ideas. You don’t need to find your passion. You need to find balls. You need to find the truth that the universe doesn’t exist to fulfill you, but that you exist to serve, and in that -recess you’ll find fulfillment. You need a schedule, a daily work list, practice, and importantly a boss who will hold you accountable.
  • If you have a job, do whatever it takes to be the best at it – even if it’s hard. Everything is hard at the beginning. I hard a hard time learning how to read. I’m glad no idiot told me “It’s ok if you don’t read David. Find your passion. You’ll excel there.” I’m glad my mom and Joe told me, “You can get this. Take it a letter at a time.” I think one of the dumbest things parents (and even small group leaders who act like parents) of anyone above 13 years old is to fight their battles FOR them instead of fighting their battles WITH them. No one ever got strong through someone fighting on their behalf.
  • And you need to daily reflect on whether my collection of productive activities glorified God. This is where I fail often. Many times, I work for man (customers, team, boss, investors, myself), when I should be worshipping God. We workout to take selfies when we should be working out to give God a beautiful temple. We work to make money to buy stuff we don’t need, when we should be worshipping the Love we need most. We study to be smart and share quotes we don’t’ live out and know information we can’t utilize, when we should seek to be wise by learning the fear of God.

Let me summarize:

Get a job or make your own (that’s an Entreprenuer). Be the best at it, whatever it is, not according to your cheerleaders but according to your customers. Order your life to be productive. And do it all for God, not man.

But let’s not talk about glorifying God with work, if  we’re not even engaging in productive activities. That’s what you call lip service.

#db

Brothers Bonifacio – There Be Eagles

When we were kids, my parents told us a story of an eagle egg that got mixed up with the eggs in a chicken coop. When the eggs hatched, the mother hen simply raised them all like chickens. Of course as time passed the eagle grew bigger and stronger, but because it thought like a chicken, it did the things chickens do and don’t do. It clucked, it strut, but despite its large wings it never flew, because chickens don’t fly. He never even tried.

One day while playing with his chicken brothers and sisters, an eagle flew over their farm. All the chickens watched the eagle soar, none was more stirred than the young eagle on the ground. “What’s that?” He asked. “That’s an eagle.” The mother hen told him. “Wow he said. How’d he get so high?” He followed. “He’s flying, son.” She explained. “I want to fly too.” The eagle said without thinking, and this caused his chicken family to laugh, “You can’t fly. You’re a chicken like us. Chickens can’t fly like eagles. Come on, let’s go back to playing.” The young eagle took one last look at the soaring bird in the sky, turned around and went back to play with the chickens, never realizing that not only could he fly, that he was meant to fly, simply because he listened to the chickens.

I remember what my parents would remind us, “You boys are meant to be great. You’re Eagles. But if you think like chickens, if you hang around chickens, if you do the things chickens do, you’ll end up a chicken. And just like the young eagle, you’ll watch the other eagles soaring, and know somewhere deep inside that you should be flying, because you know you’re not a chicken, but an eagle, and that you were meant to soar.”

I don’t know if this was an original story of theirs. It probably wasn’t. But its lesson stuck with me. Actually, it haunts me.

Whenever I find myself thinking or acting like a chicken, whenever I’m spending too much time with chickens, I can hear my parents voice and the same images in my head that I had as a child imagi ing their story, “If you think like a chicken, even if you’re really an eagle, you’ll act like a chicken. If you surround yourself with chickens. You’ll think like them.”

So I make adjustments.

They’re right. When you’re an eagle, and I believe we’re all meant to soar, watching someone else fly high tugs at us. We feel both admiration and sense of envy. That admiration, if unchecked, will lead to idolatry. That envy, if unchecked, will lead to covetousness. Either one, or both, if unchecked, will turn us into chickens, people watching others soar, clucking to ourselves with opinions, criticisms, and admiration, yet never realizing that we were meant to be that person touching the sky.
Here’s today’s reminder: There be eagles. They’re rare but you’ll find them. They’re not doing what chickens are doing. They’re not buying into chicken-thinking. They’re soaring at heights very few reach. They’re doing things chickens can only watch and wish for. Yes, there are eagles in this world. My hope is that you’ll realize, before it’s too late, that eagle is you.

#db

Choose Your Own Adventure

(Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– The Road Not Taken, Roberst Frost

Whenever I’m going through a tiring or exhausting moment, feeling lazy or unmotivated, or feeling frustrated with myself or the things happening around me, I like to remind myself of my 3 options:

  1. You can either choose to be cool and fit-in, or you can choose stand out.
  2. You can either  choose to be cute, or you can choose to be useful.
  3. You can either  choose to be comfortable, or you can choose to be great.

But I can’t choose to be both.

It’s possible that by choosing one I’ll still get the other, but it’s more likely because I chose the more difficult option. But I can’t pursue opposing values and expect to arrive anywhere. Just as heading north, then heading south, then heading north, then heading south will keep me stuck, trying to be cool yet standout, cute yet useful, and comfortable yet great, is practically impossible. So I need to choose. And I need to choose with an understanding that when I choose one direction I forsake the other.

Which is why I find a lot of the popular advice today to be destructive to success because it makes us choose the path of least resistance. If you only really do the things you enjoy, then you will be incredibly one-dimensional and limited, for there is no great achievement without skill, and there is no skill that can be developed without doing difficult things we don’t enjoy. If we only listen to politically correct things, which are usually things that are not offensive, then we water down our ability to learn from ideas that start out as a difficult but bear good fruit. An example of this for me is when a mentor of mine, Butch Bautista, told me that if I didn’t learn to focus I would fail and waste my potential. I remember my discomfort at being told I would fail but I’m so grateful to him today. Today’s popular thinking is to avoid conflict, avoid confrontation, avoid painful truths, avoid offending feelings, and avoid rocking the boats.  Don’t realize is that by avoiding painful lessons, painful disciplines, and making painful choices, and doing all this without losing compassion and hope, we build the type of character that can withstand life’s realities and take on the cares of others. The world is not made better by people avoiding evil and the pain it causes. The world is made better by people who confront evil and confront pain.
This isn’t some old fashioned advice. It’s simple logical reasoning.

I think logical reasoning is gravely missing in the thinking of people today. It’s sad that many people have lost the ability to reason with clarity due to an overemphasis on political correctness and the sensitivity of egos. Sometimes we need to be ruthless with ourselves, particularly with the bad habits, the excuses, and the mediocre relationships that hold us back. Ruthless self-reflection, is a humbling exercise, but if we’re willing to learn, it becomes the first step towards improvement. We shouldn’t muddy our thinking with how people will perceive us. We must focus on the purpose we desire to achieve, the task at hand, and the commitments we’ve made. Focusing on these things gives us clarity, and this clarity gives us confidence to “go boldly in the direction of our dreams”, as a popular Thoreau quote goes.

So here’s my advice for success: Choose the road that forces you to confront your yourself.

Do the workout that makes you sore but gets you results.

Read the books that give you a headache and study them. You’ll learn what you don’t know – and it’s usually what we don’t know that limits us.

Seek mentors who point out your weaknesses.

Learn to listen to your spouse – especially on the parts you don’t llike to hear. I have an incredibly hard time with this, but find that Yasmin is many times right. I’m learning that wives have a way of being illogical but right, so I’m learning to do the right thing beyond just the logical thing, a lesson I’m learning to appreciate. If you’re not married, learn to listen to your parents with humility and teachability! That’s the best practice for being married!

Persevere in the difficult jobs. They teach you critical skills and more importantly strengthen character.

Take on impossible roles. You’ll learn that impossible is nothing,  and better, that nothing is impossible.

Wake up in ungodly hours – even on weekends – because your purpose never ends.

Don’t hunger for praise. Hunger for improvement.

Don’t judge your performance according to your fans. Judge your performance according to world standards.

While everyone else Pokemon Goes, go boldly in the direction of your dreams – and I hope it’s more than catching a digital creature. (Nothing against computer games. I actually really like them. Ask Yasmin. But they should be enjoyed in their right time and place.)

While everyone is cheering for the next big must-enjoy distraction, be focused, even if you’re the party-pooper, because you understand that you don’t build great things with distractions but with diligence.

Move out of your comfort zone – starting with moving out of your parents home. The sooner you pay your own dues, the sooner you can start getting better at it. The sooner you pay your dues, the sooner success will come to you.

Have discriminating taste – especially with who you call your friends. I’ve come to. Wet quite a few people, but call very few people my friends. We will become the average of the 5 friends we spend the most time with, so choose wisely.

I can go on with examples but the simple point is this: Choose the road that forces you to confront yourself, the path that requires you to face your weaknesses, your insecurities, your fears, your lack of skill, your lack of money, your lack of wisdom. Confront yourself bravely, with perseverance, and humility. Don’t just be a believer, be a philosopher. Don’t just seek experience, seek foundation. Don’t just be a spectator of other people’s stories, choose your own adventure.

#db