2835208“Woke up, fell out of bed, Dragged a comb across my head Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, And looking up I noticed I was late.

Found my coat and grabbed my hat Made the bus in seconds flat Found my way upstairs and had a smoke, Somebody spoke and I went into a dream” [A Day In The Life, Beatles]

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” [Ephesians 2:10 TNIV]

I hear it all the time. Work takes up all my energy. And more. I come back from office every day a walking zombie. The days flash by. And I wonder what work, a.k.a. life, is all about.

Some are unhappy with their salaries. Many are ok with theirs. It’s the loss of meaning that really eats away at their spirits. Welcome to the new economy, where the speed of change, the amount of data to be mastered and the competitiveness of globalisation has turned many into working stiffs.

People are work drunk. They go through the motions but have lost a sense of what it is all about and are unsure as to how their daily labours connect to God and His Kingdom.

Some cope by switching to full time church related work. Indeed the pressures of the modern workplace may have awakened some to their true calling. But for some it may just be escapism. The tests will come soon enough. Full time church related work will have its own pressures albeit of a different sort.

But the rest of us will just have to find meaning and purpose right where we are. Work takes up the bulk of our time and creative energies. How do we redeem our work from meaninglessness?

Here are three suggestions.

1. Locate what you are doing in the context of God’s purposes.

For example, I was once a dentist. I know that God is a healer. So when I was treating my patients I knew I was part of God’s healing purposes. I am now a speaker and writer. I know that our God is a communicating God who wants to communicate life giving truth to people. So when I teach or write I am very conscious that I am trying to communicate on God’s behalf.

Think of what you are presently doing. Can you locate it in God’s character and purposes? If you are a lawyer you are part of God’s desire to uphold justice and compassion in society. If you are in sales, you are helping to bring goods and services that somehow enhance the lives of people and our God is a blessing God.

If you are an architect or landscape gardener, you are only following in the footsteps of the Original designer, the one who designed and made the garden of Eden and the rest of the universe. If you are a rubbish collector you help to keep society clean and healthy because God is concerned for health and wholeness.

You get the general idea.

Such an approach is based on the conviction that our God is active and working in all spheres of life, working to maintain His creation. In a fallen world I don’t expect any job to fully correspond to God’s character and purposes but some link should be there. We find meaning in our work when we locate it in God’s purposes. And if your job just cannot fit into any of God’s purposes, well….

2. Consciously seek to encourage all the people that you come across at work.

Take a moment and think of all the people you encounter at work. Starting from the security guard who greets you at the door, to your colleagues, your subordinates, your bosses, our clients, your vendors etc. See each one of them as created in the image of God and of infinite value. All of them.

As you go to work ask God to give you a genuine love for all the people you will meet in the course of the day. Even the nasty ones. Then resolve to be a conduit of God’s blessings to each one as time and occasion allows.

For many, it may mean just a “thank you” or a “how are you” — from the heart. For some it may mean a listening ear. Others may need some informal mentoring/coaching. There will be the few that we will be able to connect with on a deeper level.

Basically it means going through life with the eyes of Christ, seeing people as Christ sees them. This will not be easy. In a society where efficiency is worshiped, there will be fewer occasions to relate. And there are opportunists out there who want to take advantage of kind people. Much wisdom is called for.

But there will be many who are hungry for affirmation, denizens of a fallen world who had reached for the forbidden fruit and found themselves less not more. Many are cynical. But they may slowly come out from behind their protective shields when they encounter genuine concern. Who knows, they may even stay around long enough to hear the gospel.

3. Take your Sabbath seriously.

Take seriously the God mandated pattern of six days work and one day rest. Why? Because we need the rest? Sure, there is enough literature from management circles that remind us that working without proper rest is not good for the worker or the work.

But a Christian Sabbath is not just the absence of work. It is also the presence of God. God is with us all the time, but Sabbath is a special time where we are unplugged from our usual labours to meditate on God and life.

As we take time to pause and remember, we recall that God is the one who is carrying the world on His shoulders so we do not need to. It is a time to remember that God loves us and therefore we do not need to live our lives with anxiety.

It is remembering that one day God will bring all things to completion so no good thing we do is wasted. More than that, we remember that God can also transform our mistakes into something good because He is a God of grace.

Sabbath is finally a day to remind ourselves that our life is centred around God and not around work. Paradoxically this realization should free us to do more creative and meaningful work.

Most of us will see Sunday as our Sabbath day. Unfortunately, for may of us, Sunday is a mad round of activity, in many ways a rerun of Monday but with “church” substituting “company.” Few of us really have time to reflect on God and on life on Sunday. No wonder we hit Monday tired and clueless.

Few churches seem to have any theology of the Sabbath. Sunday is just the day people are free from the business of work so they can be engaged in the business of the church.

If churches are to help their people regain a sense of meaning and purpose in their work, indeed regain God’s meaning and purpose in their work, they should help their members make time to reflect on life from God’s perspective.

In the demanding world of today’s work place we need to help our people recover God’s presence and purposes so that they can shine for Christ without burning out.

Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan