Part 3 of “What is on focus for the summer?”– Summer. Each one looks different. One summer I worked at a dry cleaners, until I was held up at gun point. My parents told me I had to quit. There was a summer that I was hot, uncomfortable and pregnant. I sat in the shallow end of the neighborhood pool and watched my kids swim. There were summers I packed up the family and took college students on summer missions to the other side of the world.
Some work just feels more significant. Keeping cool in a pool doesn’t.
There are days I get to meet with college students and have valuable conversations on loving roommates, abiding in Christ, having spiritual conversations, the needs of the world or investing their future and life. Every week I usually go to the third-grade classroom and volunteer or eat lunch with Evan. Everyday I look into the frig for dinner options, figure out schedules, welcome kids home, and constantly shuffle the miscellaneous pile that builds on the kitchen counter.
Depending on which way I look,
to the left or to the right,
or which moment I stand in
or how I feel at that time,
my work can feel important or not so important.
Some days do feel important. Shifting laundry, papers and schedules doesn’t always feel important.
What will give your work or responsibilities meaning this summer?
Love in the Work
The last post I talked about identity, our primary identity– the one thing that defines us more than our abilities, what we do, or even the family we are apart of. The most important thing about me is this: that I am one loved by the Father. I am first, before all else, the child of the most gracious and loving Father, the God of all. And He says, this is what matters most about me. Let that settle for a moment, before you yawn and move on. If this is true, really true, this shifts things around, each day, everyday, for the rest of my life. His love not only colors who I am, but even what I do and how I do it. This is what I want more of– His love to bleed into every corner of my life– including my work and responsibilities this summer.
Now, what I do and who I am becomes a way of extending His radiance and love.
1. Starting Work in Love
My mind is fickle and forgetful so my actions often do not resemble my identity as I go about my day. It can look like this identity hasn’t stuck for me. So, resting in His love as I begin my day helps me to walk in His love as I work that day. I am not talking about a token devotional time, but to wake and then start each day in His word and reflecting on His love.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have loved you, abide in My love. John 15:9
2. Working in the Love
Then I want my day to be a reflection of His love. In other words, I want to remember His love throughout the day, and let His love influence my day- no matter what the day holds, or who it might hold.
I had this job that was heavy in customer relations. Part of my job was to make the customer feel they were right, heard, and first on my list. What they needed mattered most. This is difficult to do when the customer is angry, demanding, and even…. plain, wrong. It is not always easy to be polite and accommodating, but I found it is much more difficult when it is not apart of your job description.
There is one thing that Jesus tells His disciples to do. (I guess you could say it is part of the “job description” of a follower of Christ.) He tells them to abide in Him.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4
Yeah, often my fruit seems small and inconsistent. Where is the love?
But Jesus knows that.
He calls me to abide in Him, so His fruit can be displayed. As I abide in His love, His fruit will be produced. His love is reflected.
3. Loving in the Work
The most tangible way to display fruit and reflect His love is in the way I relate to people.
A new commandment I give to you that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
Love, as He has loved us, it says. With His Spirit I am able to love in an other-centered, sacrificial, and life-giving way. As I love, His love is reflected. Others can experience the Father’s love for them through me. That is pretty amazing! This is for everyday life, in everyday work. This is the love of a follower of Christ, of one who is loved and complete in the Father.
My first responsibility is to love as I have been loved.
Who are the specific people I want to love well today? What would it look like to love that co-worker or boss well today? What would show love to a family member, my neighbor next door, or whoever may cross my path this day?
Love in my work, starts simple:
- Start my day abiding in His love.
- Abide in His love through the day- so His fruit can be produced.
- Demonstrate the love He has for me in tangible ways to those in my life.
This kind of love matters in what I do. For this is the love I have been sent to display and speak, no matter what I find myself doing. If I love in work, others may also know and experience the love of the One who loves them the best.