Work as Worship: Scratch Notes on Titus 2:7-15

TDOT Bible Study – WORK AS DOXOLOGY (WORSHIP)

Question: What are some of the ways we can approach work as worship?

v 7 – Behave wisely – take life seriously

v 8 – Sound and beyond reproach in instruction

v 9 – Subject in everything, pleasing and not talk back so that in every respect they will adorn and do credit to the teaching of God our Savior

What does ‘adorn’ mean?

  • Adorn – Implies advancement, a passing on of something; not just something you put on (Proverbs 25:20)
  • Adorn – An active/direct extension of majesty (God’s sovereignty)
  • Adorn – Transitive property applied, adorn is all about sharing good news with people. But to share good news with people, it has to be evident in our lives as well.

v.10 – Proving themselves trustworthy*

*Note: ‘Work as worship’ doesn’t mean you effort to prove your maturity. You don’t effort to live above reproach. Without Jesus, you have to rely on yourself. But with Jesus, this becomes an overflow of daily submitting yourself to Christ and His lordship (i.e. ‘not my will, but your will be done’). There’s an investment in doing this, but it’s a joyful one if our heart is to give God all glory.

v 11 – Scriptural evidence that points to God’s grace finding a way to all men

v 12 – Sensible repeated for the fourth time; this is significant.

What does ‘sensible’ mean?

  • Sensible  Acting within God’s definition of balance; receiving God’s discernment made practical through the Spirit.
  • Sensible   Spiritual moderation exemplified by “a man who does not command himself, but rather is commanded by God‘” (K. Wuest, Word Studies, 2, 46).
  • Sensible   The marking of a decision that contributes to the regulation of life; self-control aids this process since the virtue helps us mature as a safe place (evidence) to people and as workers with reliable attitudes and behaviors (manifestation).

Root origins: The root (phrēn) is the root of “diaphram,” the inner organ (muscle) that regulates physical life, controlling breathing and heartbeat.

Example: A good opera singer controls the length and quality of their tones by their diaphragm. This also controls their ability to breathe and moderate heartbeat; hence, why the disaphragm is so valuable as it regulates (“brings safety to”) the body, keeping it properly controlled.

v 13-14 – ‘Work as worship’ means we do good with a good attitude to bring others the good news/into God’s presence. This point only is why we should see self-control as surrendering our control in terms of relationships. Remember God will take care of the possession (making His nature/will known to those around us) as long as we don’t make entering God’s presence all about us.

v 15 – “Tell them these things” – This implies instruction is being modeled with the authority we’ve been given from Christ. Active encouragement and constructive criticism working in tandem. If we do this right, our colleagues and co-workers will be regularly edified.

Thoughts on etymology influenced by Strong’s Concordance; cover photo creds – Logosphere 

 

 

 

Halftime: Reflections on 2019 and the Road Ahead

It’s a rainy day in Marais when the light comes on.

Like Yusuf’s dream in Inception, there’s much noise in this gothic paradise. A sleepy ambiance met by projections reminding me 4,357 miles isn’t enough to hide from the past.

inception-trailer-movie-leonardo-de-caprio

But the scene, at least, is a start. What I’ve desired for years…now a temporary reality. Finally, I’m not in familiar territory. For once, it feels right to be an alien.

Wife in hand, this stroll along an endless alleyway of cafés reaches a final turn. This walk to remember a fitting yet haunting reminder to how far we’ve come in nine months…and how far we still have to go.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

I dare not repeat last year’s tale with context so easily accessible these days. I guess if there’s anything worth saying, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

We are all works in progress. I, like many, drifting high in the ranks wondering…

…How can one feel stronger and weaker at the same time?

download

For instance, four, five plus years ago, I would have needed someone to acknowledge growth to feel it was genuine. I would have needed positive affirmation, especially from peers, to believe I had something to offer.

But this year, that insecurity has faded into a fastened peace. Sustained victory, once foreign, now an emerging trend in a maturing faith. No longer do I see my value as accomplishments divided by voids. No longer am I trying to please people. No longer am I finding meaning in ego.

Progress. It’s a beautiful thing.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m no longer finding security in what I once feared (i.e. loneliness and escape). Or that there aren’t days when I feel like a UFO standing in the rain…

…going down but still the same.

Indeed, the upticks are real, but there are plenty of days when all I can do is stand…

…and I long the norm to be ‘run‘ again.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

On paper, there’s much to be excited about. The countdown to Milo. Lys thriving as a children’s pastor at our home church. Caeden and Everly are better than ever. Projects like His Girl Fryday, Fry Freelance, Commission U, Momma Wears Many Hats looking to take flight.

I get what the tab says.

At the same time, the year has been unique for other reasons. My closest colleagues at work are now gone. God-given assignments are struggling for traction. And for the first time in years, I’m pouring into roles I may not ever occupy.

In all things, courage is a daily choice amidst the hustle, especially on days when I feel surrounded by enemies…when I wish I could have more time with those who had something to pour in.

But it’s those moments when I’m reminded how thankful I am for…thanksgiving. Honestly, I don’t know how God’s joy as strength would be possible otherwise.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

If 2019 has taught me anything, it’s how poor I am in receiving from the Lord. Call it a burden of heritage. Call it self-preservation. Call it a performance mentality on its last leg. Either way, I’d much rather sow into people on an empty tank than not be sowed into at all. I figure worst case, I’m at least getting somewhere while doing something right.

But there is a best case…and it’s one I’m basking in as I write this: As much as we want to open certain eyes and reconcile the impossible, I believe in all we say and do there’s always a way to worship God with one hand up (raised) and one hand out (open-palmed)…a way to exalt Him with hopeful expectation regardless of circumstance.

No entitlement. No efforting. Just faith and hunger colliding into total praise. Abiding simplified in its purest form.

As I told Lys last week, when crap hits the fan, I never want to take the easy way out; I want to take the simple way out. Sure, life may get complicated, but that doesn’t mean my reactions have to be. Christ’s power in me, I can possess my emotions. I can see the ‘God problem’ behind the ‘person problem’. And I can endure with perseverance as I receive His rest, especially when it doesn’t make sense.

After all…

…perseverance isn’t a means to strength, but a means to endure when strength is lacking.

Granted, who am I to say ‘be strong’ when my first daily checklist item is ‘take Bupropion’. Seems I should be free of that sorta thing if I’m to break out and do what I was meant to.

Then again, in a year that started with three antidepressants, maybe being down to one is an apposite microcosm…

…to one who’s not only making it, but shaking it off and shaking it out.

Slowly but surely…

…the best is yet to come.

Selah.

oneeskimo_G_20090819121950

Cover photo creds: HDWallpapers

 

Work as Worship: Our Story for God’s Glory

Work and worship.

Two words with great power, but for some reason are hardly used in the same sentence.

Of course, we all know what they mean.

With work, you have what you put your hands to, your vocation, where skill meets a living; with worship, you have what (or rather whom) you lift your hands to, the reason for vocation, where purpose meets living.

However, if you think these terms are easily compartmentalized, I get it. After all, as long as the church teaches the principles behind them, we should automatically know how they apply in each setting of life, right? (*Sarcasm*)

Whatever the case, when we talk about how work works as worship, when we consider the origin of work and its modern-day application, there’s fresh freedom and joy to be found.

So for today, I want to discuss what it means to be a worship-thinker as opposed to a work-thinker – what working to the fullest looks like when function becomes a part of our daily abiding in Christ.

For instance…

  • Do we treat work as a source of identity?
  • Do we treat work as a tool of personal fulfillment?
  • Do we treat work as a necessary evil in order to get a paycheck or other “benefits”?

If ‘yes’, then chances are our work has become a place of pressure, performance-based thinking or worse…a means to an end1.

Accordingly, we must ask ourselves:  How then do we treat work if we’re to elevate it as a selfless sacrifice of praise?

For starters, it doesn’t hurt to bridge work and worship with ‘mission’…

…however, to truly answer this, we must flash back to the Garden of Eden as captured in Genesis 2:15-20

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.”

First off, before we discuss Adam’s work, note how God gave Adam a task before sin entered the world. This has huge implications as to how we’re to understand work. Often times, we see our job as a consequence or choice rather than a gift. We think what we do is a product of what we have done good or bad. But from the very beginning, we find God designating responsibility in the form of delegated authority. Specifically, God entrusted Adam to be an extension of His hand in cultivating the greatest garden ever and be an extension of voice in naming what He’d already cultivated!

35l3na.jpg

Going back to the garden timeline, it’s interesting to see how God appointed man a task, but didn’t define it right away. While God would ultimately bring the animals to Adam2 (v. 19), He knew before this could happen, parameters were required to ensure intimacy and authority had boundaries to flourish.

Similarly, God also knew before He could delegate a particular assignment to Adam, he needed to not only learn dependence on Him in and out of work, but also his identity detached from the helper (Eve) who was to come. Again, this narrative order carries powerful implication given it underscores God’s desire for us to learn spiritual reliance without assurance of task and/or relational affirmation. Yes, God intended a helpmate for Adam before he was created, but more importantly, God intended Adam to learn his identity (and purpose as overflow) before work or wife existed.

Thus, the existence of work evidenced by the Garden is proof God desires to establish intimacy with us outside of work so he can build upon that intimacy as we work.

Not to mention it also confirms…

  1. Work plays a certain role in how we interact with God.

  2. The only way to understand the purpose of work, enjoy our work and the fruit of our labor is by also enjoying God as we work (Psalm 16:11).

  3. For Adam, tending the garden wasn’t his purpose; worship was his purpose.

  4. Accordingly, we can perceive our work has both a necessity and an overflow.

With Genesis 2 set as our backdrop, let’s look at Colossians 3:12-17, 23-24

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 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.”

In this passage, Paul captures ‘work as worship’ once it’s an overflow locked in rhythm. Combined with Genesis, an applicative breakdown of these verses reveals the following benefits (Note: Due to word count, we’ll wrap things up after this list):

Being a ‘worship thinker’…

  • Frees you to enjoy the moment of the work
  • Provides a sense of closure at every juncture of every task even if the project as a whole is not done!
  • Frees you from becoming unnecessarily offended at other teammates since punctuality or accuracy isn’t your first priority
  • Frees you to be honest without agenda/unbiased with your teammates because you know that how you handle yourself is a ‘fragrant offering’ of worship to God
  • Motivates you to work over longer periods because you are no longer experiencing emotional drains that come from the…
    • Fear that your voice won’t be heard
    • Fear that another’s performance will jeopardize project completion
    • Fear of failure, since your definition of success has changed
  • Motivates you to give God your best and embrace accountability
  • Helps you be more open to input/critique from team-members and supervisors
  • Reminds you the work is not your identity, but working unto the Lord is
  • Helps you to see work experiences as learning opportunities
  • Minimizes anxiety during a project/carrying out his responsibilities because you can better compartmentalize (i.e. prioritize at each juncture) the job
  • Minimizes fear on what your boss can do to you
  • Empowers us to not be controlled by the attitudes/behaviors of our co-workers
  • Helps you see business culture as more freeing when bottom lines go beyond profit or position
  • Refreshes the way you perceive success in your organization
  • Protects you from deriving identity from profits and/or positions
  • Protects you from taking on damaging behaviors like over-control and over-accommodation (people or employee-pleasing)
  • Allows you to be more patient in your work because each work moment is treated as a worship moment

giphy.gif

Bottom line: When we see work as an overflow of worship, we find intimacy at the core of success: Bringing pleasure to God through the gifts He’s given us so we can make His name known to the world.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Or rather, a means as opposed to an end
  2. Note: The fact God brings the animals to Adam is significant as it emphasizes God’s sovereignty to reveal how our calling merges with our purpose (more on this in a future post)
Cover photo creds: Abstract Wallpapers; Col. 3 content collaborated on with Steve Fry as part of our ‘Commission U’ series at The Gate Community Church