Monday, August 11, 2008

Servanthood in the Workplace

My being a nurse can be exhausting, frustrating, and degrading at times. Please don’t get me wrong. I am talking about some things that I encounter in the workplace that I often find difficult to deal with: co-workers and subordinates, doctors, nursing procedures that I have to perform for the first time, among others. By the time I begin an eight-hour rostered shift, chances of me getting a break in between is not possible. Meal breaks are usually done at the end of the shift! You don’t find me sitting down once I am on the move. Not that I don’t like what I am doing. Nursing is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I love being a nurse but the cost of being one is what’s stressful.

Division, tension, conflict; I encounter them in the workplace, a hostile environment for me as a christian. My mission is to portray Christ without stepping over the line of professional standards. Yet, it’s not easy. My weapon is to consistently be in prayer and to make a decision daily to “love and serve” others. If I remember that God himself assigned me my workstation, I will desire to do my best.

I remember the message my husband delivered during the yearly banquet for Operation Care Ministry earlier this year. There were several keys that he mentioned that made a significant impact in my life:

He stressed that if we want to find leaders in our midst, we find them among those with a servant’s heart. That’s an incredible thought. In church, I see them with smiling faces all the time while going diligently about their work. I never hear them complain and criticize others. They usually do the menial tasks. Yet, they work hard with excellence in whatever they are doing, without expecting anything in return.

If you want to be a servant, be available. In 2 Timothy 2:4, it says, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier”. A soldier is always ready to jump into service when called on. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever He needs to.

Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others and always sensitive to others’ cries. When we see a need, let’s try to seize the moment to meet it, just as the Bible commands, Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”. When God puts someone in need right in front of us, He is giving us the opportunity to grow in servanthood.

We do our best with what we have. If we have a servant’s heart, we don’t make excuses, procrastinate, or wait for better circumstances. Servants never say, “One of these days” or “When the time is right.” They just do what needs to be done. Ecclesiastes 11:4 “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap”.(NIV) If we wait for perfect conditions, we will never get anything done. God expects us to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

We don’t choose the kind of work we want to do. In Colossians 3:23 it says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”. The size of the task is irrelevant. The only issue is, does it need to be done? If we want to excel, we don’t chose a work that’s convenient for us. It is in these small services that we grow like Christ. In the scriptures we notice that Jesus specialized in menial tasks that everyone else tried to avoid: washing feet, helping children, fixing breakfast, and serving lepers. Nothing was beneath him, because he came to serve. It wasn’t in spite of his greatness that he did these things, but because of it, and he expects us to follow his example (John 13:15). Small tasks often show a big heart. Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks.

Servants are faithful to their work. Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises and complete their commitments. They don’t leave a job half undone. They don’t quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable. Many people don’t know the meaning of commitment. These days, commitments are often too lightly made.

Servants displays humility. Servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Peter 5:5, TEV). If recognized for their service, they humbly accept it but don’t allow the recognition to distract them from their work. We must have a submissive spirit toward our employers, doing what we are asked to do without complaining or criticizing, building their trust in us. When we show we can be fully trusted, we "make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:10).

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

God shaped us for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant’s heart, we will be tempted to misuse our giftings and abilities for personal gain. Having a servant’s heart will reveal the depth of our maturity and it is seen in our life. The measure is our willingness to serve.

Our faith must be real, not fake. We must be honest and truthful, sincere in our desire to let the light within us shine for Christ in the workplace. If we are serving others as Christ would do, opportunities to share our faith will come. If we continue in prayer and in His Word, He will guide us as we bring the Good News into the workplace.

We can portray Christ and raise the standards in the workplace.

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