It’s now been pretty much a whole month since I started full time work, and the last four weeks have definitely been a huge struggle in getting used to this weekly routine and restructuring the different parts of my life. Despite all the challenges I’ve faced and know that I will face, God has been guiding me in the last month and helping me adjust to this new lifestyle. As I’ve gone through full time work in the last few weeks, I’ve been asking and wondering questions about how I should be living as a Christian in the workplace, as well as how I should still be serving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those back at church. The biggest realization that prompts me to have to carefully consider how I should live out my daily life is the fact that I no longer have the same amount of free time that I used to have back in university – those days of what I would call in hindsight “bliss” are now gone, and the freedom to spend time with others (or just procrastinate) is no longer there.
The most obvious thing I had to consider first was the fact I no longer have the same amount of free time that I used to have. And the immediate implication of this is that I can’t fit in all the things I used to do; namely, to continue being as productive as I can be (as a worker and as a Christian), I’m going to have to drop and re-shuffle some of my previous commitments around. Of course, thankfully, a lot of my previous commitments in ministry have expired and it sort of gives me a new slate to pick new ministries that I can balance alongside work. The matter of the fact still stands that most of my time in the week will be dedicated to full time work, and that means I no longer have the capacity to do much else outside of that. Initially this really did feel like I was restricted in how I could serve others as a Christian, and the last few weeks have made me think about how I can still be glorifying God with my life.
The first thing I have on offer at the moment is just doing as much ministry as I can with the remaining free time that I have. And though it isn’t many people, I am actively meeting up and caring for a limited number of people. Quality relationships is the focus of my strategy at the moment, in contrast to the way I was previously trying to encourage the people around me. As a result this does mean I’m looking after fewer people at a time, but it hopefully means I am looking after them better than I would have before (they can be the judge of that themselves). It does make me feel bad that I cannot care for everyone who needs care, and this is one downfall of not having the free time to do so (for me, the cause being full time work). But the one passage that reminds me of my place throughout all my ministries in the past, and even now for me in full time work, is this:
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
Paul reminds us that as Christians, our approach to ministries should be to plant seeds through the Word of God, and ultimately to rely on God to grow people. That is, only God can change people’s hearts; we as humans can do no such thing. And that has several implications for us. Firstly, we are reassured that we work alongside God; if we play our role in “planting” and “watering”, we can trust in God to take over and do the rest. Secondly, there is no real pressure in needing to “make” someone into a Christian or to force them to grow. As long as we faithfully teach the Word of God (truthfully), we are doing our role and can leave it up to God to make the Word take root in the other person’s heart.
If I am able to spend quality time with the few people I meet up with, then that’s good; but it is ultimately God who will grow those people under my care, no matter how much time I spend with them (but hopefully the more time I spend with those people, the easier it will be for them to grow). And in the same way, even though I may not be able to spend as much time with other people that I want to care for, if I can just spend a short moment with them and plant a seed in them, I can equally rely on God to grow that person from my moment of interaction with them – this, I feel, can be from anything as small as saying high and asking how they’ve been, to quick conversations of how they have been going as Christians, to short words of encouragement. The lack of time we spend on someone does not nullify the power of God; in our weakness and limits with time, God is able to overcome these things and supply what is lacking – that is, God can still change the hearts of those people whom we might only have had really short conversations with. God’s power is not affected by how much or little we do on our end (but obviously we still aim to do as much as we can).
So as I push through with the ministries that I am undertaking (and about to undertake), I’m learning to rely on God in everything I do and say, however much or little I do and say. That means I don’t need to worry too much about the people I’m not able to look after as well as I wish I could, God will still look after those people. I’m also reminded each day about the power of prayer, it’s the one caring thing that Christians can do for each other even when they are physically limited from caring for one another; for the people I am not immediately able to care for, I can still pray for them – and I know I have definitely still have plenty of time for prayer.
The last thing at the moment on my mind is how indeed to tackle the idea of evangelism in the workplace. I have been challenged to consider all the evangelistic opportunities there are in the workplace, how vast the number of evangelism opportunities are, and how short time actually is (before Jesus returns). I still need to steadily establish my presence as a Christian amongst my work mates, which isn’t easy, but hence why I’m trying to steadily go about it. I am nonetheless reminded that being God’s servant means proclaiming the good news to others, so that (with God’s help in growing people) I can bring them into God’s kingdom and back into light. I know I’ve spoken less on evangelism at the moment and I suppose that reflects in the way I’m caring more for my Christian friends (both mature and young – in faith) then for my non-Christian friends. I think I’ve mentioned somewhere how I feel it’s easier to care for people who do want to follow Jesus, and how I’m more inclined to stick close to people who hold the same values and beliefs that I do. Hanging out with more non-Christians is definitely something I need to work on and think through in the weeks to come. In the meantime, with all the existing and future commitments that I am juggling around with, I am just taking my routine one week at a time, knowing that God has glorious plans in store for me.