Lately as part of my morning Bible reading and quiet time, I’ve prayed this prayer: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” I spotted that verse (from Acts 9:6) on a sign posted outside a local church that I pass on my commute to work. I read that question every day for a month or more before it finally sunk in. Maybe, I wondered one morning as I drove to work, I need to ask myself this question at the start of each day?
You know that I grapple with hearing God’s voice in my everyday. Sure I see him – in amber light as it falls on velvety daylily petal. In the quiet loon drifting on glass-still water. But I don’t ever get those nudges that other people talk about – those moments when I clearly discern what God actually wants me to do, concretely, in my day-to-day existence. Moments when I feel him telling me, “Michelle: Do this.”
When I saw that sign day in and day out for a month (thankfully that church doesn’t change out its signage regularly. Perhaps they know some of us need to read the message more than once – say 30 or so times – before it makes an impact?), it occurred to me that perhaps I don’t get the answers because I don’t explicitly ask for them.
So I’ve been doing just that every morning for more than a week now. I simply close my eyes and ask, “God, what do you want me to do today?” And the first thought that pops into my head (unless it’s something like “Eat three ice cream sandwiches” or “Buy yourself a Chanel handbag”), I interpret as his answer.
One day the thought was, “Practice patience with the kids.” Another day it was, “Have fun.” Another time the thought was, “Send that email, the one you keep putting off.” And then last Thursday it was this: “Be positive and spread good will at work.”
This one I didn’t like. This one sounded too hard. Impossible, in fact. This one, frankly, I wanted to ignore (which is exactly what I did).
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t make a habit of intentionally sowing seeds of dissension or creating workplace unrest or even being a big fat negative naysayer (I actually have to work at this, glass-half-empty person that I am), but lately, I haven’t gone out of my way to be a positive, inspiring employee.
You see, when I got back from vacation last Monday, I found that some organizational restructuring had taken place while I'd been gone. I returned to a different hierarchy; fellow employees were now reporting to different supervisors. And while this didn’t affect me directly – my boss is still the same – it dramatically affected some of co-workers, people I consider my friends. Naturally, as with most any change, they weren’t entirely happy. I returned to an atmosphere of unsettledness.
I had two choices. I could be positive and focus on the big-picture strategy: how this decision was probably a good one for the organization. Or I could fuel the fires of discontent.
I chose the latter.
And I chose the latter because it was easier.
I thought about this today when we read these verses from Romans 12:1-2:
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Had I acted at work last week in a way that could be described as “spiritual worship?” Had I presented myself as a “living sacrifice?” Did I “discern the will of God” and then do what he would consider good and acceptable?
No. On all three counts.
Instead, I conformed to the ways of the world, because those ways are easier and sometimes, let’s be honest, more fun. I’ll be frank: I fall prey to gossip more than I’d like to admit because I find it entertaining. Gossip feels like camaraderie, “us against them” – and that can feel empowering.
But gossip and dissension are false empowerment. Gossip and dissension are conformity to this flawed and broken world.
Real empowerment is trying to live what is good and acceptable and perfect in God’s eyes. Real empowerment is humbling, non-conforming service to others…and thus to God. Real empowerment is living out the will of God, even when it’s hard and not very much fun.
It may sound like an exaggerated overstatement to describe a positive, non-gossipy workplace attitude as a “living sacrifice,” but I’d suggest it’s not. I’d suggest that any behavior that’s the opposite of what’s expected, any behavior that does not conform to this flawed world but is instead an act in line with the will of God, is indeed a living sacrifice.
Last week I chose the easy way out at work. This week, with God’s good grace, I pray I’ll choose to be a living sacrifice instead.
What about you? What helps you make the right, “living sacrifice” choices in your day-to-day life?
Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community. If you are here for the first time, feel free to click here for details and instructions on how to link up.
Or you can simply copy the code for the "Hear It, Use It" button in the sidebar to the right, and paste it into your own post. Remember to including the link to your post down below...not your blog address -- that way visitors can be sure to read the right post.
Typically we write about the lesson we read or the sermon we heard in church on Sunday. That said, I am pretty loosey-goosey – you can write about a verse or even a hymn that you've been pondering anytime recently. Also, you can come by anytime during the week to link up – it stays open until Friday.
Thanks so much for participating...and don't forget to visit other participants and comment on their thoughts this week if you can. It's wonderful to have you here...and I have to say, I am super excited the community is growing! Thank you for that!