Is there room for God in my work today?
When I say “Go on a retreat” I’m thinking of a time away that offers a good bit of freedom, a time that is structured to help you step back from your life and prayerfully examine carefully how you’re living. Your retreat might be something you do alone, though it’s sometimes hard to truly retreat without others to encourage you. You might choose to join some kind of organized retreat or to get away with a few friends who will share the experience with you.
What matters most, however, isn’t the adoption of one particular form of daily, prayerful self-examination. Rather, in a way that fits our unique personality and situation, we can learn to pause each day so that, with God’s help, we might examine our lives carefully.
Today I want to get very practical by suggesting one way you can stop so as to examine your life. Here it is: Put down your tech! Now, I realize this is a bit ironic since it’s likely you are reading this devotion with the help of technology. So I don’t mean you have to drop your smartphone or shut your laptop right this moment. But I do mean that if you want to stop the busyness and craziness of life long enough to examine carefully how you’re living, you’ll need to become unplugged from tech for a while at some point.
We also need to stop moving, to stop hurrying on to the next thing so we can take time to think about how we’re living. I’m not suggesting we have to overthink everything. But I do believe we need to pause regularly so we might examine carefully how we’re living in the present moment and where we’re headed in the next moment.
The Lord, who is known by his acts of justice, calls you to seek justice in every part of life, including your daily work.
Ephesians 5:15 begins, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” A more literal translation of the original Greek might read, “Examine carefully how you are living.” Sounds quite a bit like Socrates, doesn’t it? This verse doesn’t tell us to live carefully so much as it exhorts us to pay close attention to how we’re living. It wants us to examine our lives so that we might live more intentionally and more fully.
You might be surprised to learn that Ephesians has some wisdom about what we would call time management. (Ephesians would talk about time redemption, actually, but we’ll get to this later.) You can find this wisdom in chapter 5, verses 15-16: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Most literally, where the NIV speaks of “making the most of every opportunity,” the Greek original says we’re to be “redeeming the time” (exagorazomenoi ton kairon). That’s a first-century Christian version of time management.
Or to put it more bluntly, this is God’s version of time management.
Have you ever been reading along in a compelling novel—and then for a few days or weeks your attention was directed elsewhere? By the time you finally got back to your book, you had to sit back and remember the story you had been reading, perhaps even reviewing some sections to refresh your memory. You knew that if you were going to enjoy the richness of the narrative, you had to have its broad sweep in mind.
In this Life for Leaders devotion, I want to focus on labor, that is, on the work we do. As I was thinking about what to write for today, I was reminded of a verse in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58).