Are you like many people who view their relationship and their service to God as separate from all other areas of their life? I was like that.
I think I’ve finally realized that God is and should be above everything else. Instead of picturing our relationship to God as just one of several big priorities in your life, our focus needs to be on Him, first and foremost.
Everything else in life needs to fall under Him. Look at all your other responsibilities as being filtered through your dedication and service to God.
Draw it Out
It might be helpful to visualize your relationship to God by drawing it out on a clean sheet of paper. Start at the top, write “God” in bold letters, and draw a circle around His name. This represents that everything in your life begins here, with God, and that your approach to life needs to represent that.
As head of our lives, we need to filter every decision and every thought through Him. Nothing in your life is as important as your relationship with Him. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most successful attorney, business owner, or hair stylist according to the world’s standards, if it doesn’t line up with God, and you’re not serving Him through it, then you’re failing.
Now, below the circle around God’s name, write these words side-by-side, evenly spaced across the page:
These words represent major areas of our lives, through which we have the opportunity to serve God each day.
Make Family Time Serving Time
Most people reading this will have family of some sort. Maybe it’s just one other person in the whole world, and you hardly have any contact with them. Or maybe your extended family is a huge part of your life and you can’t imagine not meeting up with the whole clan for Thanksgiving at Aunt Sally’s house.
Whatever your situation, our families can either be a great way to show God’s love, or they can be a huge stumbling block to our spiritual growth.
The next time there’s a family get-together at Aunt Sally’s house (don’t wait for Thanksgiving), or you’re spending time with your family, take a moment to think like Jesus might have thought.
“How can I serve God right here, right now at Aunt Sally’s, or here at our family dinner table, or while helping my daughter with her homework?”
Maybe that means offering to mash the potatoes, taking out the trash when you see it’s overflowing, or even watching one of your sister’s kids for a few minutes.
It might mean you just share a few kind words with that cousin you never could stand. Maybe he’s had the worst week of his life and a simple smile and a little encouragement when he least expects it could make a huge difference in his day.
When I mentioned that families can be a stumbling block to our faith, there is more than one way this can happen. For me, I’ve often let my past family interactions determine how I act.
Let me explain. It is said that a person acts in line with how they think other people see them. In other words, you act how you think other people expect you to act.
It’s pretty easy to fall into that trap. With family members I’ve known all my life, it’s natural to fall into the same old patterns of gossip and negativity that we’ve always shared. It’s difficult to break out of the mold and behave in a new and different way.
Especially if it’s that cousin you hate dealing with.
But God calls us to love others, just as we love ourselves. And, as Bob Goff emphasizes throughout his wonderful book, Everybody, Always, that may mean starting with those who are the most unlovable (at least in your eyes).
So God may have put your cousin in your path for a reason. Not only does he need a pick-me-up after he’s endured a long week at work, a huge fight with his wife, and trouble with his kids—you have the fantastic opportunity to grow spiritually by showing him grace and love. It’s a win-win!
Take advantage of these kinds of opportunities. Embrace them as learning experiences on your path to faithfulness. Learn the lessons you need to learn so you can continue growing in your faith. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Become a Server at Work
For most people, their job or career occupies a major chunk of their waking hours. If you’re like me, you may have lived for years with the idea that you’re working to live. I thought that going to work was the most important thing I could do each day because if I didn’t work, I didn’t make money, and everybody knows you need money to live.
While all of those ideas do ring true to an extent—money is a necessity, and work is the path to earning money—your job should not be where you place your focus. The Word says in Matt. 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [food, clothing, necessities of life] will be added to you.”
What this means is that we need to approach work on Wednesday afternoon no differently than we approach worship on Sunday morning. God needs to be our focus—how we can worship and serve Him throughout our workday.
“How can I serve God while I’m writing this report, or adjusting my patient’s IV drip, or frying up burgers, or running these lab experiments?”
Ultimately, that’s for you and God to decide, but it could mean you step outside of your job description and do something extra to make a coworker’s day a little easier. Maybe it means cleaning up the mess that someone else left in the break room.
Our awesome God should be at the forefront of everything we do, each daily task—even at our jobs. Work isn’t something secular that’s outside the “religious” realm. God created you and He created work as a means to an end. But He’s the end. And the beginning. It all comes from Him and through Him.
When we try to make our work distinct from him, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. We can’t succeed—really succeed at work or anything else—when we don’t place it below Him and alongside everything else in our life that isn’t God.
In my next post, we’ll cover the next two major areas of life—social and personal. Be sure to check it out.