God Likes Your Job. Really.Blog / Produced by The High Calling
For years I would say this very simple prayer every day before work: “God, please bless the work of my hands.” I discovered those words one day while reading the bible and latched on to it hard, since it was one of the few scripture verses I ever came across that directly spoke to me about God’s interest in my work. I know it is not very fancy or theologically sophisticated, but it had a very spiritual and ancient ring to it, which I liked. And, to be honest, most of the time it was just about all I could muster. That prayer pretty much carried me through my career. Praying directly for my job always seemed a little dicey – like I had to sneak it in through God’s back door while no one was looking. Unfortunately, I picked up that attitude while growing up in the Evangelical Christian church, where I never, ever - not even once! - heard a pastor address the subject of work or career. Apparently, my job wasn’t one of God’s priorities. Of course, now I see how ridiculous that is. I eventually managed to figure out on my own that God cares about my career just as much as He cares about the work of my missionary friend doing bible translation in the Philippine jungle. I know without question that my friend’s “ministry” work is no more important to God than my “secular” work in the corporate jungle. Except that I never got a special prayer from the pulpit sending me off into the field with God's blessing. How did it come to this? Mark D. Roberts, the Senior Director of Laity Lodge (which is the retreat center connected to The High Calling organization) recently ran a five-part series on his blog, entitled, “Why We Don’t Pray for Business.” He posits a rationale for this seemingly irrational spiritual behavior: namely, that those who are leading worship and prayer in our religious institutions are never trained to see business as an integral part of God’s kingdom. Therefore, they have no vision for this potential integration of spiritual and secular. Speaking from the clergy’s perspective, Mark says:
“…We don't pray for those who work in business because we don't tend to see business as, in potential, part of God's work in the world. Business seems to be, at best, a means to other ministry ends.” “But I think it's pretty obvious that if pastors and lay leaders were to see business as integral to God's work, if they were to see business as ministry, then they would be much more inclined to pray for business institutions as well as for those who work in such institutions.”
Yeah, dude, no kidding. Ironically, about the same time as Mark D. Roberts was busy deconstructing the sacred-secular divide, HCB Blogger Michele Corbet was somewhere else, quietly posting stories of how her own pastor at Harbor Presbyterian Church in swanky San Diego was doing this very thing at her church: boldly preaching about the integration of faith with business, and devoting special prayers during the service for specific industry segments. Michele describes this new initiative:
“Today, my pastor prayed for people in the legal field during the church services. It’s the beginning of a new tradition we are starting to support our attendees. There are so many needs and challenges at work that often get overlooked in a Sunday service…"
"So often, we pray over missionaries as they are sent out to serve. What about everyone else? They are being sent, too. This new tradition sends workers into the marketplace to be transformational and redemptive in the city.”
How awesome is that? She posted her pastor’s prayers for the legal profession, science, engineering and technology, and military, police and firefighters. She tells me that her church is now doing this on a monthly basis (I'm personally waiting for the prayer for corporate management, of course). You should really check out Michele's blog, where these prayers are being posted each month, and share them with your friends in these fields. Michele sums up the effect this had on the congregation:
“There was quite a buzz about it after the service. People felt validated and loved. They knew that the church cared about their lives Monday through Friday.”
So come on now, pastors, worship leaders, church professionals. Get with the program and get on board with the money-making members of your flock. Stop avoiding our working world and our careers. We’re starving for some spiritual attention to help us make sense of God's purpose in the business lives we lead 40-60 hours of the week. We also want a little acknowledgement for the honest work that we are doing for God's kingdom. Besides, we’re the ones who are basically paying your way, right?