Work as Worship

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An Important Lesson

I have a confession to share.  For a significant portion of my career I had an overwhelming sense of guilt on a regular basis. This guilt did not originate from an inappropriate or unethical act, but rather from a deep rooted feeling that I needed to do more.  As a Christian, I strived to grow in my faith in all aspects of my life: As a husband to the woman I loved so deeply (I married way over my head!), a father of two incredible boys, a friend…teacher, coach, mentor, servant, leader….but what about my career? Was I being selfish using my gifts in a secular environment?  Was it less “Christian” to not be serving in a vocational ministry? 
Throughout my numerous trips around the sun, I have been blessed with countless business opportunities and challenges that placed our family in environments that my wife and I had never anticipated as we started dating and got married in a small town in southern Indiana.  That town was our home and, for the most part, people didn’t leave such a wonderful environment that was safe, secure, and surrounded by our incredible family and support system. But, business challenges called, success created further opportunities for more impact, and out of our comfort zone we were launched.
My professional journeys have taken me to 4 different companies, multiple divisions, 4 relocations, and travels to nearly every state in the country and over 14 countries. I have worked closely with people from every continent and nearly every religion, from the entry level hourly employee to CEO’s and CFO’s, and from professional banking and consulting environments to labor unions and grave-yard shift production environments. Through it all, I have met the most amazing people…regardless of their role or background. But also through it all, I always had the doubt and guilt in the back of my mind…”Should I be doing more? Am I wasting the gifts and abilities the Lord has given me? Am I being selfish or insecure? Am I living in Faith and trusting that God will always provide?”
As I have matured through this journey, and through God’s amazing grace, I have realized that our ministry field is wherever God puts us in this life. Regardless of the public perception that you are not allowed to share your faith in the secular workplace, I have strived to simply be me…all of me. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pray with countless people who were going through difficult seasons of life, I have been provided with numerous opportunities to publicly share my faith with thousands of people around the world, and I have been trusted to mentor countless individuals where I frequently share my crazy life story…including how God has worked through it all and how He has always been faithful to protect and provide for my family.
Just over 5 years ago, our oldest son was tragically killed in a work-related accident at the age of 23. Through this season, God has strengthened and sustained us on a daily basis. Roughly a year after this tragic event, a colleague of mine asked if he could speak with me privately. During this conversation he shared, “I just want you to know how thankful I am that you are still working here. Most of us thought you would quit and go into full time ministry at your church. I just wanted to tell you that you make a difference in so many lives at this company and we need Christians here. We would have respected you and completely understood if you had left.  But, you see, most of us may never enter the doors of a church on a regular basis to be influenced by people who genuinely love people the way you do each day. But when you come here to work, you meet us where we are and you bring that impact to us. You may not see it, but we need you here and I am glad you stayed.
Again, God gives more grace. What a gift it was to be able to hear from this non-believer, how God is working through my broken and imperfect life to touch others for His purposes and glory.  I suppose I have learned something through the years; our ministry field is wherever God places us today. 
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:22-24
-Bryan Langford

Worshipping on the Road

Five years-ago my job was eliminated, and my employer offered me a new position which required significant travel. This was not my plan, and how could it be God’s plan?  Why would He want me to have less time at home?  Less time for church activities and ministries? 

For much of my life I was poured into by others - youth ministers, Bible teachers, pastors, etc.  As I began growing in my faith, Christian mentors helped me see God wanted more from me, to engage others and lead. Through New Hope, God presented those opportunities.  However, with a new travel schedule and young family, my ability to commit to non-family/work related activities was diminished.  This meant less time connecting with fellow believers (at church) in ministries/Bible studies/etc. and more time in “the world.”

As a Christian, I often feel like a stranger in a strange land in this world. For that reason, I often sought “shelter” in safe places (church/ home).  This is not what God calls us to in the Great Commission.  Yes, it’s true God directs us to “not give up on meeting together,” (i.e. church) to edify and encourage.  However, he also commands us to GO and make disciples of all nations.”  This is how I view my work as worship - being sent out, or to “go.”

I realized God had been equipping me for this season of life, and that He has expectations for me to contribute to His “big C” Church, in addition to our church at New Hope.

With increased travel, I knew I’d still need Christian connections. God provided; many Christian colleagues are an encouragement to me (hopefully I’m doing the same for them).  One example is at one of my first “leadership meetings”, my boss (knowing I was a Christian) invited me to a Bible study!  How cool is that?  Starting mornings at 6:30 with fellow believers studying God's word was one of many ways God provided.  Now I had my encouragement, but more is required to be equipped to engage.

God arms us with the “belt of truth” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and He is clear we are to stay in the word. For my worship to be impactful, I had to become more committed to studying God's word. So where I go, my devotional and study Bible go. 

Commitment to prayer and studying His word (especially on the road) better connects me with God. It’s easier to connect with others about God when I am most connected to God.  Scripture read in the morning often fits with events of that day, providing opportunities to insert scripture into conversations. If someone picks up on it (they often do), the door is open for further conversation.  If church is a big part of our life, it inevitably comes up in conversation, often opening the door to conversation about faith, theirs and mine.

In the past I thought of worship at work in terms of “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). So, my goal was to work hard, and (try) not to complain or be bitter. And that is good.  However, “working for the Lord” also means to regard our work as an act of worship.

For me, my worship at work can be boiled down to three actions: 1) Identify other Christians to be encouraged by, and to encourage,  2) Equipping through consistent study of scripture and through prayer, and 3) Engaging others by reflecting the character of Christ on to others, and always being prepared to give an account for the hope that resides within me. 

Mel Seitz