It sounds click-batey but it’s true. Here are three sentences that are absolutely revolutionizing my work. They’ll do the same for you. [Full disclosure – They were inspired by the book “Let Me Be a Woman” (I was reading it by the pool, but don’t worry, it has a very masculine cover.)]
These three sentences are meant to be personalized and then recited whenever you are feeling lazy, scared, apathetic, frustrated, disrespected, belittled, arrogant, short tempered, or a thousand other negative ways.
These three sentences work in every situation, good or bad, and have a special way of tuning your attitude rightly. Seriously, it’s like oxiclean for your attitude (Lame analogy… Even I am rolling my eyes.)
Three sentences. I’ll give them to you all up front, then we will go through them one by one.
“Today, I am called to be a ________. The fact that I am a ________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of ________. For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
“Today, I am called to be a _______.”
Sometimes you just need to be reminded that the work ahead of you today, this hour, this minute is a calling from God. (Because it is a calling from God.)
When the Corinthians asked Paul how they should live and what they should do for work after being converted to Christianity, he answered them this way: “Let everyone lead the life which the Lord assigned to him, and in which God has called him.”
In other words, Paul said, “keep doing what you are doing. If you’re a blacksmith, that’s your assignment from the Lord and your calling from God. The same is true if you’re a butcher a baker, or a candlestick maker.” (Little known fact about Paul: biiiiiig fan of the nursery rhyme.)
So this first sentence, “Today, I am called to be a __________.” Is a reminder and affirmation that your work has significance to God himself. He’s asking you to do it (not just your boss).
For me, this sentence might read:
– Today, I am called to be an investment banker.
– In the next hour I am called to finish this memo.
– In the next 5 minutes I am called to answer these emails.
Simple truth. Easy reminder. It gets me out of my laziness pretty quickly. My motivation for doing the task ahead isn’t for anyone other than God himself, which is much more motivating to me than working for a boss I may not agree with or being prompt in my email responses “just because.” Maybe you’re the same way.
This reminder isn’t simply about the fact that we’re working for God though. It’s that he cares about the work we are doing. Afterall, why would he call you to a task that had no value to him? He wouldn’t. (1)
“The fact that I am a __________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of __________.”
There is both humility and pride in this statement. Can you see the humility? Your specific calling doesn’t gain you any special standing (bummer if you have a cool job). But it also offers pride because your specific calling can’t demote you to a shameful position (that’s good for you to hear if you think your job is low and without purpose.)
Secretly, we like to think that people with cool or sexy jobs are somehow better Christians. But no matter your job, you’re not a different type of Christian. God shows no partiality to your title, he’s after your heart.
(As a side note, and maybe it points out the absurdity that we think certain jobs earn us a better standing with God – for some people, being a pastor or missionary qualifies as a sexy job… others scoff at this position and think that the title of trial attorney or tech-startup founder qualifies as a cool job worthy of God’s approval… both of these groups disagree whole heartedly… neither are correct. But we digress.)
By reminding ourselves that we’re not a different type of Christian, we’re attacking all of the weird identity issues that come along with our work. We’re attacking both the pride and the shame of our work, the self-righteousness and self-loathing.
Read it simply: The fact that I am a ______ doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian.
I hope this helps you remember that you aren’t your work. I hope this helps you see that the work ahead of you doesn’t define you – your faith does.
Now the second half of our statement attacks an entirely different issue in our hearts. “…but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of _________.”
While the fact that you are a banker or construction worker or speech pathologist doesn’t change God’s view of you or your ability to interact with him, your identity as a child of God changes everything about the way you approach being those things.
As a Christian, you will be upright, steadfast, honest, diligent, fearless, faithful, compassionate, encouraging, patient, forgiving, shrewd, generous, and on and on… (1)
For me, when I remind myself that I will work differently, it usually encourages me to work harder. For you though, it may encourage you to be less stressed about deadlines. Or maybe you take a bigger creative risk. Or maybe you pay a little more attention to the details. Or maybe you’re a little more generous with your time and attitude.
“For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
The last of the three sentences falls into the category of “simple, but not easy.” (It may be the hardest.)
To accept God’s idea of you today means to accept every part of you. That includes all of your strengths, but also the parts about you that you currently view as weaknesses. Your lack of intellect, charisma, physical strength. The mole above your left eye, the way you sometimes say “you too” to a waiter who says “enjoy your meal”, the funny way you sign off on emails.
When you accept God’s idea of you, you accept that God created you a certain way, unique. And in that uniqueness he’s given you both strengths and weaknesses that he hasn’t given others.
You accept that God is the only perfect being and that you are not perfect.
Once you accept that, it is easier to affirm that today is an offering of praise to him. Your “whole life is an offering back to him of all there you are and all that he wants you to be.” All of your being. All of your life. Not part of it. All of it.
That means your weaknesses are used as an offering of praise, right alongside your strengths. This isn’t to say that we throw our hands up and give up on improving. But it does mean we don’t worry so much about comparing our weaknesses against other’s strengths (there’s so much freedom there anyways). We’re grateful for who God has made us to be and we respond accordingly.
“Today, I am called to be a _______. The fact that I am a __________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of __________. For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
I don’t have a clever way to end this. No gimmick. Just a simple request: take a minute, type out (or write down) your affirmation of work, then print it out and put it somewhere you can see it. If you get off track while working, look at the note you wrote yourself. Remind yourself as frequently as you need to. (sometimes I read it three times before I get it.) I guarantee (2) it will make a difference.
(1) Hey! Footnotes, huh? If you’re interested in the theology that supports these claims (and they are beautiful theological truths!) you should sign up to get posts sent straight to your inbox. I include supporting scripture and theology there. You can sign up by enterinng your email below:
(2) Here’s the guarantee: If these three sentences don’t change the way you work, feel free to crumple them into a ball and throw them at me the next time we see each other. (I won’t even be mad.)