Keeping my Heart Alive
Working full-time has its difficulties. One of the bigger challenges I constantly face is being an on-fire believer of Jesus while working full-time.
I think people are aware of the challenges.. The amount of time you actually have to do things is limited, not to mention you’re constantly tired, work is mentally exhausting and challenging, the amount of people you see is very limiting, and the workplace is probably not a conducive place for a vibrant relationship with Jesus.
I remember a few months ago I was frustrated with the way my relationship with God was going. In exasperation, I lamented to my wife, “My life is not sustainable! If I didn’t have certain meetings throughout the week at church, my spiritual life would be in decay!”
I hate the feeling of my love growing cold towards God. And not having the power in the Spirit I need to not just survive but thrive.
Lately, God has been teaching me ways of how to be working full-time and being on fire for God. I am sitting at my cubicle these days singing praises to Jesus because God’s Spirit is on me. And getting to that point required some changes.
Here are some things I learned that have been helping me.
1. Removing endless distractions clears my heart for God
God spoke something profound to me on my birthday. He said to me, “The rage of the world is to get people distracted with meaningless pursuits.”
Now that I’m married, I think about a typical American adult lifestyle, and the expectations of what people my age usually do. I have found that most of it to be one big huge distraction from eternal things.
Esther and I prayed and talked for a while about whether to get a TV given that we have some gift cards. We resolved that we were not going to get a TV to watch TV. I know the temptation of coming home from work and just clocking out in front of the “big distraction.”
That activity that a lot of American men engage in is just an escape for the day’s work. It wastes valuable time and heart space to engage with God after work. As of now, all we do with our TV is mostly stream IHOP’s prayer room to cultivate an atmosphere of worship and prayer in our house.
This process for us comes out of a recognition of a bigger observation that I’ve been noting.
As entertainment and media is increasingly a bigger part of our global technological culture, I have found that most Jesus-followers have opted to just be increasing consumers of it all without really assessing what it does to their spirits.
Not to say my experience is representative of every person, but I have found that entertainment, for the most part, dulls my spirit and sensitivity towards God. It distracts me from dealing with heart issues. It easier to put something onto a screen rather than to process my hard day at work with the Lord.
And it is in the media distribution’s mentality, the smart phone market’s mentality, and every up and coming media outlet’s mentality to to make addictive media more and more accessible to people. They put it in their phones, they make it stream, they load you with options, it’s all geared to get us to be hooked and distracted.
And so I am making clear decisions of not engaging in meaningless distractions. I want all my activities that my wife and I do to be intentional.
We have to be intentional about how we feed our hearts because I want to determine what kind of heart I want to have before God. Do I want a dull and entertained heart/mind? Or do I want a burning one for Jesus?
The answer to that question lies in what activities I choose. And because I’m increasingly saying “no” to typical American choices of entertainment, there is a direct correlation in my hearts ability to hear the Holy Spirit.
When people talk about TV shows, or actors, or movies, honest to God, I don’t care if I am not conversant or if I have no idea what you are talking about. Before the Lord, I want to rather fix my mind on things that will actually make me a meaningful person and will allow my heart to thrive.
2. Resting, Relaxing, Sabbathing, and Saying No
Continuing the theme of denying oneself, I have found that having adequate rest for my body and mind is of absolute importance in having my heart alive.
I am increasingly convinced that American culture does not know how to rest. And we honestly break the Sabbath. Rest is a biblical mandate because when we honor our bodies we honor God.
The connection between my physical restedness and my spirit is intimate. It is my belief that mind, body, heart, and spirit are all interconnected and if one suffers, they all suffer.
When I am working full-time, there is just so much beating the body and mind takes. I make it a priority to sleep 8-9 hours a night and to spend time with God in the mornings. The restedness allows me to make good decisions throughout the day and not fall asleep while praying.
To sustain that lifestyle means saying “no” to a lot of things. And that’s okay with me. I don’t care to be a weekend warrior. I don’t care to show people on Facebook how cool my life is. I know that I need rest and I will most likely continue to say “no” to hangouts, activities, birthday parties, dinners, etc so that I can be faithful with stewarding my heart and to be faithful with the few things God has entrusted me with.
What’s helped is not overloading my Saturdays. Last Saturday Esther and I spent the morning in long restful devotion before God. Our weekend was immensely blessed as a result of that! I want to continue living a life of balanced restedness.
3. Saying YES to Intentional community of God-pursuers
One of the things that Lord has taught me in the course of my life is understanding the difference between your friends and your partners in life.
I consider partners to be weightier. These are the people who actually add to your life, who will partner with you in your growth in the Lord.
When working full-time, and being married, the amount of people that I can see and interact with is obviously much less. The lessening of time requires me to be strategic about my friendships and to really find partners in the Lord.
I intentionally invest in friendships that help me grow in my relationship with God.
For example there’s a couple at our church who my wife and I see as a valuable partnership and friendship. We had dinner together at a Mexican restaurant last weekend and it was amazing. All we talked about was how God was moving in our lives, ways we’re growing, how we’re being challenged, and difficulties we’re having. We prayed for each other at least 4 times that night, praying for healing, prophesying, and giving words of encouragement. It was so powerful. Oh, and we also had tons of fun playing and joking around too.
My point is that it’s easy to find friends to have fun with, to play, and to joke around. It is not easy to find friends who would do the former on a day-to-day basis.
Continuing to invest in these friendships means life to me. And saying “no” to friendships that don’t is important as well.
4. Finding Ways to Connect with God during Work
I’m at work 8-9 hours a day. That’s a huge chunk of time. And spending time with God in the mornings and at night is not enough. I love that Chris Tomlin song as it reminds me what my relationship with God should be like, “I need you Oh I need you, Every hour I need you.”
I understand that not everyone’s work experience is like mine, but I kind of know the in’s and out’ of my work where I know what I can do, when I can do it, and still have integrity in my work. Here are some ways that helped me stay connected with God:
- For me to connect with God at work, I am constantly reading the Bible at my desk. It is just open, all the time. I want to eat continually.
- During my breaks, I intentionally go outside, rest my body, and have rested prayer time with the Lord. I have a Kindle with my Bible on there, and I carry it with me everywhere to keep eating the Word.
- During work, I try to stay away from ESPN (my crux..), and other mind-fogging inherently-addictive internet activities.
- I try to have conversations about Jesus with my co-workers.
- I constantly talk with Jesus during work. I process my emotions with him. I process what I’m feeling.
- I have my intercession list at my desk all the time with situations, circumstances, and people I need to be praying for constantly. The act of intercession helps me hear how God feels.
5. Saying YES to Living a Life of Mission
When asked about food Jesus responded to his disciples, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me.” Jesus’ food is do God’s work.
This season God has been growing my ability to release God’s kingdom and to evangelize. I have been more passionate about being a witness for Jesus and spreading the fragrance of Jesus everywhere I go.
I have found that when I set my heart to obeying the Holy Spirit when he tells me to minister to someone, my heart grows alive. When I go to work with a mentality of not just “this is my job” but “this is my mission field,” there’s a grace that is released for me at work as I’m working there very purposefully to make Jesus known in my work place.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to share my testimony here and there and to pray for a number of co-workers already. Those experiences make me hungry for more–hungry to see heaven invade earth in this dull work environment. I don’t care if I’m fired or let go, if I can leave this job one day having done the will of God, I will be satisfied.
I found that when I adapted this mentality about work and life in general, my heart is alive. My heart is alive because Jesus gives his presence to those who seek to build his kingdom. And he does that because you quite simply feel Jesus’s presence wherever Jesus is, and Jesus is always in the business of making disciples and expanding his kingdom in secret.
Setting my heart to living a life that minister to others is what replaces a lifestyle of entertainment and comfort.
So these are some ways that have been helping me be passionate while working full-time. I’m sure having kids will have it’s challenges one day…