I'm not saying Christians should be workaholics. I'm a big believer in working smarter, not harder. What are other ways you can invest in your job? Try to gain a better understanding of how your company produces value and where your job fits in that process. Then do everything you can to improve that relationship between your job and the company's value chain. Often I see folks working in a department of an organization that have no interest in understanding how their department serves the needs of the larger organization. It doesn't take much more time to change this. It takes more attentiveness and care. These are things that we can give to our work starting today.
I is for "imagine." Your work today is probably not a beautiful garden. At best it is an empty field. And there is probably some garbage that needs to be cleared out before you can even get started with the hard work of creating something beautiful in your work. This is why imagination is so important. You have to have a vision for what your work could look like. I have a couple hints for doing this effectively.
Write a brief description of the future of your work. This can be a short paragraph or just some keywords, but it should clearly illustrate how you want your work to look in the future.
Outline two or three things you need to do today to move towards that goal. Don't make this list long. You'll get overwhelmed. Make small incremental changes. Tell a friend at work or an accountability partner about your goals and ask them to follow up with you in a month to see if you are sticking with it.
F is for "follow-up." Follow-up is so important. Everyone wants to be in better shape. So why aren't we surrounded by Olympians? Because a couple days into that new exercise program we decide that the work required to change is too hard or we don't have time for it.
The same concept is true at work. You've probably been a part of a lot of corporate initiatives that kicked off with huge fan fair and were non-existent by the end of the quarter. So make sure the few goals you set are things you can do easily, every day. They have to be easy or you will stop doing them. They have to happen every day or you they won't make much difference.
T is for "train others." It is impossible to give yourself to work and not give yourself to others. As you become more passionate about your work, people will take notice. Some will ask what you are doing. Others will just watch. Begin to develop informal ways to train the people around you. Often this is as easy as sharing a new idea at the water cooler or during a weekly staff meeting. For some it will be more explicit in the form of professional development.
I think that this applies to all of us equally regardless of employment status or the status of our employment. All jobs are important. The factory worker and the pastor have the same invitation: plant a beautiful garden where you are. Remind the world that our God is in the business of making beautiful things. And attempt to join him in that work every day.
Lane Severson is a Practice Leader for Doculabs and a freelance writer living near Chicago, Illinois.
Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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