How do you picture your daily work?
Three years ago, I would have pictured an ocean where everyone else was swimming, but I was ten feet under water. My one-word description would have been "overwhelming." I wasn't just dissatisfied but had grown sour when thinking about going to work.
But a year later, my picture of my workplace was completely different. I would tell you I pictured a jungle - but a jungle where I was called to share the gospel and be faithful. My one word would have been "opportunity."
What caused the change? Why should you even care?
It all has to do with mission, and it matters whether you're in health care Downtown, an executive in Arlington, or even a stay-at-home mom.
For a long time, I was in "mission second" mode.
Being on mission second means viewing a daily vocation like most people do. Work is a necessity and not an opportunity. It’s a way to work hard, usually make some money, and maybe sprinkle in spiritual conversations as an afterthought. You allow others to dictate your attitude and behavior toward work. Seeds of frustration can take root over time and grow into mature bitterness towards work.
When I worked from this mission-second mindset, I wasn't unwilling to share the gospel. But there was too much work to be done, so how could I? In my mind, the “real” ministry work and opportunities started after I clocked out of my job.
I wanted to do something big for God and be useful but never thought that could or would be through my daily vocation.
From Second to First
About a year into my job, I had a conversation with my mentor that changed the way I viewed work. After hearing a lot of my frustrations towards my job, she calmly asked me, “Have you ever considered that your work is your mission field? You don’t magically become a missionary when you step off the plane in a foreign land overseas.”
This statement rocked me. Sure, I had heard sermons about connecting faith with work. I had even talked to my friends about being on mission where God placed them. But had I ever really considered that my dream of a “jungle mission field" could actually be found at my workplace?
Have you ever really considered that your “jungle mission field" is in a five story place of work off of San Jacinto in downtown Dallas, or wherever you happen to spend the majority of your days?
Many Christ-followers have bought into the idea that ministry begins after 5 o’clock. This just isn’t the case. A mission-first mindset means viewing your work as an opportunity for ministry and discipleship (alongside the other ways God is glorified in our daily work.)
Being on mission first means waking up in the morning thinking about the people you will interact with during your work day, not simply the list of tasks for that day. It means praying - before you step foot across the threshold of your work - for your bosses, co-workers, clients, etc.
Imagine how you might prepare for a discipleship trip overseas, for that jungle tribe or earthquake-ravaged city. You would plan months in advance, be in focused prayer for the trip, and have other people praying for your time there. Why don’t we do that here more?
Viewing work through this new lens might mean changing your morning routine. It might mean showing up early to work and having your devotional time in your car, so that you can prepare your heart and pray over your workplace. It could mean memorizing scripture that is applicable to work and ministry - and even sharing the verses with people you come into contact with that day. Instead of avoiding co-workers that frustrate you, a mission-first mindset might cause you to seek them out and press into the hard work of investing relationally.
One way God used my new mission-first mindset was through baking. I started bringing cranberry white chocolate scones to my work (yes, scones!). Food breaks down barriers quicker than almost anything else; people commune together and bond over food. This was an opportunity to spark conversation and invest in people, with a hope of ultimately sharing the gospel.
God can move you from a place where God’s love is an afterthought to where it's on the forefront of your mind.
How are you doing with your mission field? The way you invest may look vastly different than bringing people scones, but what will you do to invest and be on mission first at your work?
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