Sunday, 17 December 2017

Time to switch off and take stock

SUMMER holidays are a good time for “taking stock”. Away from work and the daily routine (switch that phone off!),

SUMMER holidays are a good time for “taking stock”. Away from work and the daily routine (switch that phone off!), there is a chance to see your life from a slight distance, an opportunity to ask the questions and be aware of the feelings that you may not have time to ponder in the rush and buzz of life. There’s a chance to look at the bigger picture for a while. When all that is done, what happens when you get back to work?

Four suggestions, which you might be wise to ignore as they come from a man who, they tell me, only works one day a week...

First, work hard. Go to work tomorrow or next month and do your absolute best. Be the best employee, the best manager, the best fill-in-your-job-here you can be. Seek to be known as the most competent, creative, honest, humble, ethical person in your field. Be good at what you do and be good.

Second, don’t expect life at work to be easy. It won’t be, not always. You might miss your target/deadline, drive away a customer, even get the sack. Sooner or later you will run into conflict and disagreement. These things don’t mean that God is punishing you. They are the inevitable result of living in a fallen world. Remember: thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18). Work is affected by the Fall. Work doesn’t always go the way we like. Work, thoughtful creative work, is part of what it means to be made in the image of our creative God. It has a kind of holiness but be realistic about the Fall, too.

Third, learn the Ten Commandments, especially No 4, about keeping the Sabbath. Rest is holy, just like work. God intends it to be part of the rhythm of your life. The best thing you can do for yourself, for your family, for your employer, is to set apart one day in your week when you can’t be reached, your mobile/tablet is off and you don’t go online. When you take a serious snooze, you worship with other believers, you take a walk or watch a sunset, paint a picture, read a good book. If that doesn’t fit your week, consider taking a personal day every month for solitude, silence and rest. Turn the Nike ad on its head — just stop it.

Fourth, learn to pray the Lord’s Prayer. There’s a reason Jesus taught his disciples to pray in this way. He knew that we become what we contemplate (EastEnders addicts please note). When our prayers focus on our needs and our agendas and the ways we want God to bless us, we become self-centred and deeply boring. Jesus gave us a pattern for prayer that keeps our eyes on the Father’s name, the Father’s kingdom, the Father’s will. Getting the focus of your life right is absolutely vital for your sanity. We need to focus on something other and greater than ourselves. If for you that isn’t God and the people God has given you to love, you had better make sure it is something big enough, worthy enough, precious enough.

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