Do you have recommendations on how to pursue Christian perseverance? At work, I’m being pushed to the end of myself and I feel this fleshly desire to lash out and defend myself. However, I want to pursue humility and examine my own heart to see what mistakes I’ve made. Also, I don’t want to have a negative attitude while I am at work.
I can understand your situation. I have often felt pushed in multiple directions, sometimes facing pressure from my boss to finish up a long-overdue project, while one of my employees needs my attention, just as an important customer asks for my help. It is easy to believe we are failing when we can’t seem to please everyone and can’t keep up with it all.
When we feel stretched to the limit, it is easy to become defensive or combative with others. We may desire to do what’s right, but the limitations of our minds and bodies tend to drag us down.
What is a Christian worker to do? How can we remain humble, keep a positive attitude, and faithfully fulfill our responsibilities when the stress seems relentless and unending?
Christians have access to several resources that those who do not know Christ just do not have. I will discuss a few of them in the hope of providing some encouragement.
Power of God’s Presence
Knowing that the presence of the triune God is always with me, wherever I happen to be and whatever I happen to be enduring, enables me to trust and obey him. By the grace of God, in the more than 45 years since I put my faith in Jesus Christ, I have been able to consistently experience his presence in my daily life. I do this by choosing to remember what he has revealed and that he is always with me (Ps. 139).
Knowing that the presence of the triune God is always with me, wherever I happen to be and whatever I happen to be enduring, enables me to continue to trust and obey him.
I recommend you read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. From the preface, we are introduced to this man of deep faith: “Written over 300 years ago, it is a message relevant for every Christian caught up in the rush of the world today.” In this short yet profound book, we see glimpses of Brother Lawrence’s joyful heart, “a heart that had learned the most essential ingredient of the Christian life: how to remain in the presence of God daily.”
Strength of God’s Truth
A solid understanding of a theology of work—God’s divine purposes for work, the effects of sin on every aspect of work, and how Christ transforms the worker through trials—can help us focus on working in the power of the Spirit and not the flesh.
One of the doctrines I often return to is the fall. Because of Adam’s sin, my sins, and the sins of everyone else I work with, work is harder than it is supposed to be. This lowers my expectations. The difficulties of work do not surprise me anymore.
Because of Adam’s sin, my sins, and the sins of everyone else I work with, work is harder than it is supposed to be. This lowers my expectations.
However, the suffering we face at work can also be seen as a trial, which can build our faith (Rom. 5:3–5). Trials provide an opportunity for us to trust God, apply his Word, and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are told to rejoice in them (James 1:2–4), because “the testing of our faith produces perseverance.” Do you truly want to learn perseverance? Learn to press on through each trial.
The writer of Hebrews, likewise, encourages us to press on (Heb. 10:19–25). He calls us to draw near to God, which we can do only because Jesus fully atoned for our sins. He also calls us to hold on tight to the hope we profess, knowing that God is faithful.
Reality of Transformation
One of the most practical promises for the Christian life is Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” A similar idea is found in Hebrews 12:2, which describes Jesus as “the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
All who come to Jesus Christ in faith, from the moment of justification, begin an irreversible journey toward Christlikeness. Jesus calls, we respond, and the Holy Spirit begins to transform us from the inside out.
This lifelong process (which theologians call progressive sanctification) will proceed more smoothly when we cooperate by digging into God’s Word, spending time in prayer, fellowshiping with other believers, and walking by faith in obedience to what he calls us to do. And when we fail, which we all do, the Father will lovingly discipline us to bring us back to the path of righteousness.
Challenge of Pressing On
Integrating our Christian faith at work, with its unique trials and temptations, will always be a major challenge. Living the Christian life is not hard; it is impossible.
The only way to persevere, then, is to take full advantage of all the spiritual resources God provides his children—the power of his presence, the strength of knowing the truth about work and faith (especially how we grow through trials), and the reality of our lifelong inner transformation into Christlikeness.
When you consistently strive to seek first his kingdom, over time you will persevere through many trials.
TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected]