Tag Archives: Motivation

Work and Rest

Hey! You may notice a new voice. This post was written by Joe Work. (Which, can we all agree, is a good name for writing on this topic?) Joe is a UT graduate working in Technical Sales for Oracle. You can follow him on twitter at @JoeWork

Sometimes I’m astonished by the things that cultures were willing to lay down at the altars of their gods. They sacrificed their time and energy even their families to gods of empty promises. But then I remember how often I do the same thing.

We see work as an endless treadmill. We’re running and running and running to keep up with the pace, to stay plugged in and connected. Forty hours a week is a myth.

If we aren’t at work, we’re worrying about it. Sometimes, we simply like feeling busy.

Ultimately the issue is in our hearts. Work can become an idol. And sometimes, it’s the idol that we sacrifice to the most. We give up our time and energy, friends and family, to worship our jobs.

What do you find yourself laying down at the altar of your career?

Worshipping our work leads to restlessness. We begin to feel tired, no matter how much sleep we get or coffee we drink. The world tells us to produce more and work longer. It promises us satisfaction if we just work a few more late nights or refuse a couple vacation days. It promises us joy once we get there. But we never actually get there. That’s the nature of sin. Empty promises await for all of those who bow at the feet of their jobs. Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Continuous striving to attain a prize that you never actually reach. Building our sandcastles only to have the tide come in and wash them away.

We worship our jobs and starve our souls, seeking and searching, never ceasing, never resting.

But restlessness is not a characteristic of our God, nor of his followers.

He rested while creating the universe.

We can rest too.

Christian Kamiwaza

You should strive to be like the gods. Or maybe not. (Wait, what?)

In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin writes about a Japanese term kamiwaza:

“Like most great words for which we have no equivalent, it is difficult to translate. The shortest version is “godlike.”

When we strip away self-doubt and artifice, when we embrace initiative and art, we are left with kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as the gods would run.”

That statement is so close to correct, it’s almost painful. Isn’t it?

Kamiwaza isn’t something we should strive for… I mean, Adam and Eve wanted kamiwaza, to be like God, to be godlike, and it didn’t turn out so well.

So, no. Not kamiwaza. But Christian kamiwaza. (I’m not super original.)

Christian kamiwaza.

Like most ideas rooted in scripture, it’s simple to understand but difficult to master. The shortest version might be “as created.”

When we strip away self-doubt, artifice, and doubts of our Creator, when we embrace what we were created for, we are left with Christian kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with Christian kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as God created him to run.

What would Christian kamiwaza look like in your work, art, home life, friendships? You would be fearless, decisive, adept, skillful. You would be intentional. You would be humble. You would be free from the unnecessary restrictions of others or self.

You would be whole.

You would be as created.

Fuel for work

(You are going to think this doesn’t apply to you. It absolutely does.)

You will be tempted to work through the holidays. You will be tempted to work Christmas morning even. Maybe for your day job, maybe not. But the temptation to work will be alive and well.

  • Cook breakfast that will impress everyone
  • Be winsome and funny
  • Fit in at dinner
  • Make sure everyone knows you did ________
  • Make sure no one knows you did ________
  • Hide this
  • Embellish that
  • perform, perform, perform
  • Think about work
  • Check email
  • Check twitter
  • Take 15 pictures, post one to instagram
  • Post one to facebook
  • Write a comment about how great everything is
  • #blessed
  • perform, perform, perform
  • Worry about how your comment was taken
  • Worry about how your gift was received
  • Worry about who gave you this and who didn’t give you that
  • Worry about what that means about how they think of you
  • Worry about what it all means about you
  • perform, perform, perform
  • work. work. work.

Christmas morning is God’s gift to you to lay down your work. Not just your “day job” work, but the work beneath the work. The work of defending and protecting yourself. The work of modifying and correcting your image. The work of proving your worth (to others and to yourself). The work of striving for _________. The work of earning the love of those around you.

Christmas morning is the ultimate gift of rest and provision and peace and comfort.

Jesus is the ultimate gift of rest and provision and peace and comfort.

His birth (and his death and resurrection 33ish years later) are the fuel for your rest this coming Thursday. That rest, deep soul rest, is the fuel for your work every day forward.

This Christmas, rest in God’s completed promise, wrapped and laying in a manger. Rest because God told you to. Rest because if you know Jesus, you don’t have to work.

More than anything, I hope you get that peace this Christmas. I hope your heart and mind and soul rest in the good news that God wrapped himself in flesh to be with us. I hope you find the rest that can only come from knowing that because of Jesus, God loves you specifically and unconditionally.

I hope I get that rest too.

Merry Christmas. (Restful Christmas.)

Sin is a Liar

And [the prophets of Baal] cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. – 1 Kings 18:28

They cut themselves. And not just a little.

You and I do the same thing.

Sin is a liar, and it’s always demanding more of you. And if you’re like me, you keep giving more and more of yourself to sin in pursuit of what it promises you. But here’s the crazy thing: sin never ever gives you what it promises to give.

The prophets of Baal in 1 Kings are a great example of this. For background, the prophet Elijah is going to settle the score on whose God is real, so he challenges the prophets of Baal to a sacrifice-off. Who can get their God to light a sacrifice on fire? The prophets of Baal go first and their efforts go like his:

Prepare the bull for sacrifice, call on Baal. Nothing happens.
Call on Baal a little louder. Nothing happens.
Limp around the altar while calling on Baal. Nothing happens.
Rage and scream, cut themselves in sacrifice. Nothing happens.

They started out preparing the bull for sacrifice. They wind up bleeding themselves. Gushing even.

At each stage sin offered them the promise that if they would give just a little more… then their false God would come and save them.

“Just a little more.” Sin whispers. “Just give me a little more, and I’ll give you what you want.”

But in the end, no one comes. Nothing happens. No one pays attention.

And that’s the hiss from the same sin we listen to everyday. It is making promises to you today that it will never keep. Can you hear them?

  • Forget your family, spend a few more hours at work. I promise that will make you successful.
  • Don’t be generous to your coworker, don’t share what you’re working on. I promise that’s the way you’ll do better than him.
  • Work hard when the boss is looking, but don’t worry about it otherwise. I promise it doesn’t matter anyways.
  • Skip time in the Word today, it’s been such a long demanding day. I promise you’ll be more rested if you don’t spend time with God.

What has sin promised you?

Control? Power? Approval? Comfort? Rest? Peace? Money? Stuff?

It will never provide those things. It can’t.

Sin always asks more from you and never gives back.

What false promise are you believing? What has sin offered you today at work? How has that gone?

The truth is that the things you are seeking have already been provided. They were purchased for you years ago. Don’t buy what sin is selling.

The Only Way to Get Rich

Last week I wrote a post titled “The Only Two Ways to Get Rich.” In it I explained that to get rich you could either a) want less stuff or b) get more stuff. I then went on to make the claim that the Gospel informs this view and that God indeed wants to help you to want less stuff  while getting more.

The problem is that’s not exactly true. If you read the article at face value, all the claims made are biblicaly defensible (I’ll happily point you to the scriptures for each claim if you’re in to that kind of stuff) but when read together, the implied message is something different. The implication to the post is that God wants you to have more stuff, or money, or success, or whatever… and I’m really uncomfortable with that implied message because it’s just not true.

Look: God does wants us to have more. Not only that, God wants us to have the best. In fact, he has gone to great lengths to ensure that we can get more of the very best. But here’s the thing: the “very best” is just one thing. It’s the only thing that truly matters: Him. It’s not more comfort or control or approval or power. It’s not a newer car or nicer house or shinier watch or more powerful friends. It’s more of Him. He’s the best. He’s all there is.

He wants you to have more of the very best. He wants you to have more of him.

Along the way, God may lend you some stuff, apportion you some power, or assign you a few successes, but those things aren’t ultimately what he cares about, and they shouldn’t be what we care about either. Not because those things aren’t valuable and good, but because he is so much better.

(If you’re wondering: you can read The Only Two Ways to Get Rich here.)