Walk into the office, ask my supervisor how I can help today, get a long list of tasks ranging from papers to file, emails to return, excel spreadsheets to create, and then after a few minutes of small talk, go to my isolated office, sit down at my desk, and get to work on my often very short to do list for the day. Far from what I expected my first job to be, this is my daily routine.
When I initially got connected with a job in medicine, I imagined working in the actual hospital clinics, interacting with patients, shadowing doctors, observing crazy traumas, really anything in a fast paced environment learning from and interacting with both patients and doctors, but alas here we are. I don’t think my expectations and reality could be more different. I am not in the actual hospital, my days are slow and long, and when working on my tasks during the day I am sitting at my desk with no one else around.
All of that being said, I know the truth. I know that that work isn’t meant to be boring. God didn’t design it as something we should dread each day, so how do I overcome this dilemma? How do I reframe these tasks as not menial? How do I find purpose in the mundane?
One of my favorite verses for perspective on life is 1 Corinthians 10:31 “so whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. This verse might as well say “so whether you file or perform surgery do it all for the glory of God. Eating and drinking are two of the most basic tasks we have as humans, and even so, we have the potential to bring God glory through these actions.
Everything we have is from God. Not just resources but our skills and passions as well. Similar to the Israelites being delivered from Egypt, God has delivered me from death. I must live in a way that shows my response to this, a way that shows my never-ending gratitude. Because of the depth of all I have received, I know much is expected. I have been compelled to give freely all that I have. Whether that’s time, energy, knowledge I want to make myself available because no matter where I am God can use whatever I give for his kingdom and his glory.
If then I look at my work as bringing God glory, it takes a completely different turn. It goes from menial and mundane in the world’s eyes to a great honor in the eyes of the believer. When you dedicate your work to the Lord, it becomes a form of worship. We are glorifying the lord with our actions. We are using our talents for his kingdom and his name. If in fact we are working for the Lord, this requires filing, calling, faxing, etc. enthusiastically. If you served the king, you would give nothing short of your best effort. In the same way, I know that this is what my work should reflect. My time at work is not about me. I can file joyfully because I know that my identity is not in my job. It is in something much more glorious and much more secure: Christ.
In Romans 12, Paul calls us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.” It is that simple. To glorify the Lord with our work and with our lives, we must let worship extend from the Church. We must learn to die to self and our own selfish desires and learn to acknowledge God and his power in everything we do. It is our chance to exalt God and show our gratitude for all he has done.
In the workplace especially, whether surrounded by believers or not, this is our chance to get a true taste of the body of Christ. Every member of every office brings in countless strengths and weaknesses. I cannot be everything for everyone; that is not how God designed us. I must learn to die to myself and learn to serve the greater good and the prosperity of others.
Like the people in Numbers 11, I so often find myself complaining about the minor details and bumps in the road. Because I can only see in part, I frequently doubt the Lord and his sovereignty in my life. We live in such a self-centered culture that despite all I have been given I can often only think of what I don’t have. This passage is a great reminder to me of God’s faithfulness in my life. Like the Israelites out of Egypt, God has delivered me from death, given me friends, family, a house, a job, and I deserve none of it. All that I am I owe to him. I have no right to complain. God is a god who provides. If he’s done all of these things for me, why would he stop now?
So for now, I can only see in part. I’m not quite sure why I’m in my current position, but I know that God is sovereign and this is just one stop on my journey to the Promised Land. I must remember that this life is not my own. God’s provisions are not meant for my prosperity but for the prosperity of his kingdom.
Where I am right now is where the Lord wants me to be, the place I have been called to be salt and light to the darkness. I must start in the little things by seeking the well-being of others. Investing in relationships and lifting others up through service, even if that means humbling myself to file and do the dirty work because ultimately it is all for the glory of God, our creator and deliverer.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11: 33-36)
How am I doing with the pieces of my work that are not enjoyable? What is my attitude?
Mary Mitchum interns in the medical field in Washington, DC and is a member of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.