Wineskins Archive

February 10, 2014

Workplace as Mission (Mar-Apr 2003)

Filed under: — @ 2:30 am and

by Susan Tolleson
March – April, 2003

My fourth-grade teacher once told me, “You have lovely handwriting. You’ll go far in life.”

A professional mentor once advised, “Use every criticism as an opportunity to learn. That will take you far in life.”

My creator said, “Don’t focus on what you see because that’s temporary. Spend your time on what you don’t see. That will take you far in this life—and the next” (2 Corinthians 4:18). That was probably the best career advice I ever received.
Several years ago, I took that “advice” seriously and began to approach work as my mission field. Going to the office was exciting—every day was an opportunity to share God’s hand working in my life. I no longer worried whether I would say the right thing at the right time. I didn’t expend mental energy on how my career would advance. God was taking care of those details.

That’s what’s wonderful about God. When you focus on the eternal task he’s called you to do, he takes care of the temporary tasks for you. He gives us the steering wheel, and then places us on the road that needs to be traveled. That road may have the smoothest blacktop on the flattest terrain. Or it may be scarred with potholes over the steepest of hills. But if we trust him, he gently moves our hand in the direction he needs us to go.

God chose me. Then he told me to let everyone know about his eternal invitation. And he promised to give me whatever I need to make that happen (John 15:16). He designed my personality, shaped my life experiences, and allowed my choices to accomplish his goal of sharing the Good News. That’s why some of us are plumbers, some are preachers, and some are public relations folks. But we’re all missionaries.
Over the last three years, my career has been a testament to what happens when our work becomes our mission. My prayers began to sound like, “Put me in a situation where someone needs to hear about you today,” or “Give me an opportunity to share this marvelous thing you’ve done in my life,” and “Help me see one need or hurt today.”
Incredible things happened. If you really want to be blessed, if you really want to be amazed, start sharing what he’s done in your life. I wasn’t swallowed by a whale and spit out on dry ground. I didn’t walk through a parted sea. The stories I’ve shared with co-workers are as simple as how he led us to our second home and how marvelous His timing is for our child.

I have participated in experiences common to all of us with confidence that God is in control. And, I have shared my struggle with consistently maintaining that belief. You may not think it matters that you share your story, but you have no idea the role your obedience is playing in God’s plan for that person.

God also reminds us that any competence we have doesn’t come from ourselves, but from him (2 Corinthians 3:5). As I began to see opportunities for service around every corner at work, my salary doubled, I was given increasing levels of responsibility, and I was charged to lead larger teams. The potential to influence humbled me and I was often overwhelmed by new projects I was asked to lead. But those opportunities drove me to new levels of dependence on him. Just in case I was too focused on my blessings, God used my obedience to make me realize I needed his leading more than ever. What a wonderful plan he has in place!

In the age of computers, nice handwriting doesn’t matter much any more. Learning from criticism is a wonderful trait, but will only get you so far. I’m banking the future of my career on the fact that it is a temporary task he has brilliantly orchestrated—one with a definite ending.New Wineskins

Susan Tolleson

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