Gotta work at it!

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1st Corinthians 10:31)

I decided to take a short break from talking about the present situation in Israel to discuss something I have been learning recently.

I work as a teacher in a Community Center and have a wide age-range of students. This month, I taught mostly in Summer School with the goal of helping to equip some of the students for the coming academic year. During this month, but especially during the last week, I had to deal with several disciplinary issues, which prevented some students from learning, or from enjoying the process of learning. Some of the things I learned in the process are relevant to almost every field of endeavor.

1 . Do we go to work or do we go to work?

One of my former teachers once commented: “Many people today go to their work place every day, but do they go there in order to work?” I asked myself that question this week. I can probably say without doubt that most of us who work do so in order to receive an income. When we decide what type of work we want to do, we make a choice: we choose it because of the income, or because we enjoy doing that type of work. Some choose both reasons and are doubly satisfied.

I love working with children and I love teaching. But, I don’t like having to discipline, even though that responsibility comes with the job. This past month, I felt more like a baby sitter than a teacher. I went to my work, but instead of going to work and looking forward to working with and investing my time in the children, I would wait for the clock to reach the hour that marked the end of the work day. Oh, I did put in a lot of time and effort, seeking to make class fun for them, but as I started the day, I quickly found myself waiting for it to end, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with their behavior problems.

I saw my co-workers behave the same way. They came to “do the hours” and go home, some even wished to skip the hours altogether and just get paid. I love my job, but like many others who love their jobs, I discovered that for a host of different reasons, it is easy to switch modes sometimes and go about the routine of work, and just do what I needs to be done, without having my heart in it.

Have we ever stopped long enough to ask why we go to work? Do we seek to just finish what we need to do or go because we want to, and enjoy it? Do we go to actually work, or just go to our place of work to do what is necessary there?

2. Do we pray for the people we work with?

As I mentioned above, I had to deal with a lot of behavioral problems the last few weeks. Admittedly and shamefully, I hadn’t been praying for the students I taught. I did pray before going to work that I would do well each day. But, the focus was on me, not on the children. From past experience, when I did pray for my students, not only did they do well academically, but also behaviorally.

Prayer is not some kind of magic formula that when expressed makes everything instantly better. No, it is a powerful means that helps me to line up my will with the will of God. Often prayer is neglected in matters we deem to be too insignificant for our Heavenly Father to be concerned with. Yet, I learned that when I pray for my students, I am, in essence, saying to God: “You know these kids. You know what they are like and You know how I want to positively affect them. Please help me to be a tool in Your hands and please control their behavior and their desire to learn.”

When I remember that God cares more about them than I do, that I cannot do anything on my own strength that will have eternal value, that I can trust Him in all things at all times, my work becomes easier and more enjoyable, both for me, as well as for my students. All I need to do is surrender my work and the circumstances of my work and work place to God.

The same is true for our colleagues. They may not realize it, but they really need our prayers. We need to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with them, as well as for their salvation. It is amazing to see how God turns enemyship into frienship when we pray for others.

3. Do we make the effort to have some quiet time?

I worked mostly in the mornings this month and came home exhausted. I realized that a lot of the time and effort that I put into finding teaching material and fun activities for the kids could have been used more wisely and effectively. My “quiet time” with the Lord took a back seat compared to the time I put into work-related things.

When I reviewed the things I learned this month, I realized that it was crucial to set my priorities right, as they would determine the attitude with which I go to work, whether or not I pray for the people I work with and how I handle time.

I believe it all boils down to this question: For whom do we do all that we do? A lesson my mom taught me, which can be applied to every area of life, is this: If we do something for ourselves, in our own strength, we will burn out quickly and get tired very fast. If we do it for God and in His strength, according to His will, we may become tired as we work, but we won’t tire of the work.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23)