?In chapter 23, Stevens and Ung conclude their discussion of anger (the desire to control) and gentleness (the strength of meekness) by considering surrendered contentment – the outcome of a spirit-led life in the workplace.
How contented are you with the current state of your working life?
- Is you job providing you with satisfaction and fulfilment?
- Does the salary match the expectations of the organisation?
- How about your relationship with your colleagues or boss?
When our answers to these question are not positive, we often lapse into a complaining attitude – the outworking of a lack of contentment. As Ung points out:
‘It’s hard to be satisfied with what we have. However, as Christians, we are called to live a surrendered life. ?Such a surrendered life need not be a weakness but can be a position of strength. We are imitating the Lord Jesus, who demonstrated inner strength by walking resolutely toward the cross because he had surrendered his will to his loving Father.’
So in practical terms, what does this mean in the workplace? ?Three suggestions are offered:
- Stop trying to control everything and everyone: When we, ‘seethe in silence, gossip, feel frustrated, berate ourselves for our stupidity or feel irritable,’ we may well be expressing a deep desire for control.?
- Accept whatever God gives us in life and work: Who has experienced times in their working life when fulfilment and satisfaction seem far away and we just want God to change things for us? ?I’ve been there many times particularly when the going got tough and the grass looked greener elsewhere. ?In part, my dissatisfaction ?reflected my personality and a desire for new and challenging tasks. ?But, if I am really honest, it also reflected a lack of, ‘courage to accept whatever God gives and to give whatever God requires.’ ??Mother Teresa had it right: “I belong to Jesus. He can do with me whatever he wants.’
- Experience deep contentment: Appreciating God in the ordinary and everyday boring bits of life is the key to deep contentment: ?’To discover God in the smallest and most ordinary things, as well as in the greatest, is to possess a rare and sublime faith. ?To find contentment in the present moment is to relish and adore the divine will in the succession of all the things to be done and suffered which make up the duty to the present moment.’ (Jean-Pierre de Caussade)
Finally, the story of Ruth is presented as an example of surrendered contentment:
- Ruth gives herself completely – to Naomi and to God (Ruth 1:16)
- Ruth lived fully in the present – surrendering does not mean passivity or wistful longings for the past but living in the moment (Ruth 1:22-2:2)
- Ruth learned to be faithful in the small things – she accepted the toil and hardship of work (Ruth 2:7,17,18)
- Ruth embraced the hardships and the blessings – she shows strength and determination as well as a willingness to accept mercy and love (Ruth 2:10-14,21; 3:17; 4:13-15)
- Ruth learned the art of waiting – she is prepared to wait knowing that her future is in God’s hands ultimately, not her own (Ruth 3:13, 18)
Keep in mind Paul’s advice to the Philippian Christians:?
Don?t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God?s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It?s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4: 6,7, The Message)
Next time: Sloth ? Pathological Busyness (Chapter 6)
Stevens, R. P., and Ung, A. (2010).?Taking Your Soul to Work: overcoming the nine deadly sins of the workplace.??Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans