Work as Worship

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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

Serving in the Older Years

When my husband Joe and I moved to Florida in 1991 and joined a church there, an older gentleman in the church made a remark regarding serving which really took me aback. When asked to do some little service task, he turned it down, saying he had paid his dues! I was astounded that someone who had been a loyal church member and one who had served for many years could feel that way. My thinking was “How can you ever believe that – no one can out-give God.”

Sometimes our words can jump up and hit us later. When I left Florida to return to Indiana, my first priority was to find a church where I could be a part of the family and also serve. However, I made the remark that I had no intention of teaching children again. I’d been there, done that! (Is that so different from saying I’ve paid my dues?)

Obviously God’s plans for me were different than what I had in mind. Through a series of circumstances I wound up teaching the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class a few months after coming to New Hope and have been doing so ever since. And what a joy it has been.

Even though I have had two children of my own, I’ve never considered myself as being in tune with young children. However, I’ve found that God doesn’t push you toward a task without giving you the tools to work with. One benefit of being retired is that I have plenty of time to prepare each week. A big blessing of teaching children is that it has made me much more focused in reading the Bible. Of course, it’s a challenge; and some days go better than others. Probably the biggest drawback is that my energy level isn’t what it once was. Most Sundays I go home and take a nap.

Growing out of teaching the Sunday school class has given me the opportunity to participate in Vacation Bible School. Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of this large group of children as they worship and learn about God is a reward in and of itself. Of course, just as on Sundays I have to go home and take a nap after each session.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching three of the Jankowski children as well as four of the Thompson children in Sunday school. They both have another one who will be in 1st grade four years from now. That gives me motivation to keep on until I’m almost 90 so I can make a full sweep.

To give me an opportunity to be among adults I’ve been a part of New Hope Helpers. However, when first joining the group I made it quite clear that I would be willing to serve meals but don’t ask me to cook. That was never one of my better talents, and I’m completely out of practice now.

The Bible gives us many examples of women who made an impact in their older years. Hannah not only had a baby in her old age but promised that he would serve the Lord. (I Samuel 1:27-28.) After becoming a widow, Naomi returned to Judah and encouraged her daughter-in-law Ruth who was also a widow in seeking another husband which resulted in Ruth becoming a part of the genealogy of Jesus (Ruth 1-4). Elizabeth became the mother of John the Baptist in her old age and recognized that her cousin Mary would be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:41-45). The Bible tells us that the prophetess Anna, after becoming a widow, served in the temple from then on and was there at age 84 when Jesus was first presented. At that time she thanked God and spoke to others about Him (Luke 2:36-38).

All this is to say that as we age God still has plans for us. We may not quite understand where He is leading us, but we need to trust Him at all times in all things.

Maggie Vail