The Christian Public Servant – “hamster wheel”

October 20, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Galatians 6:4-5 [NLT] Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Colossians 3:23-24 [NLT] Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Reflection
One of the greatest tools used by Satan is comparison envy. We compare ourselves to others all the time – using the wrong standards and lenses. We become “green with envy” when a coworker gets the promotion or raise that obviously was “due” to you and me. We despair and become bitter when Jane receives all the kudos from the boss – leaving us with the crumbs. But then, when we are the “teacher’s pet,” we believe we deserve the rewards because our work is “obviously” so much better – and this leads to a dangerous form of pride.

Yes, Satan uses comparison envy to keep us in bitter bondage to our emotions – up one day, and down the next – depending on the comparison scorecard. And it gets us nowhere. It’s kind of like being on a hamster wheel. It spins, and your legs move, but you never advance.

How can you free yourself from this trap? The only solution is to keep your eyes on your own work – recognizing who your true Boss is – the Lord. When your goal is to please Him first, you know He is proud of you when you overlook the offense. He is joyful when you uncover hidden pride and repent.

So at work today, get off that comparison hamster wheel. It takes you nowhere. Just keep your eyes on the Lord for He is the Master you serve.

And begin to earn your inheritance!

Prayer
Lord, grant me the courage to give up my toys of ego and pride. Let me embrace Your standards of success. I cannot do this on my own strength. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Gary E. Roberts, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Master of Public Administration Program
Robertson School of Government
Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “joy in the work”

October 19, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Ecclesiastes 3:22(a) [NLT] So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life.

Reflection
I’ve long been a volunteer swimming referee. No pay, just the joy of seeing children do well and helping them to do better. Last summer, as I watched my country’s Olympic trials on TV, I saw one coach who once trained and mentored me as a swimming official.

And you know what? Amidst coaching all those great swimmers, she had joy and everyone could see it! But what the viewers did not know is that she also has the same joy with little swimmers – kids just starting out with faraway Olympic dreams. You see, she puts joy in the work – whatever the task.

Putting joy in the workplace can be hard at times. There is the cranky coworker. The citizen with unlimited complaints. There’s even the boss or coach who thinks you made the wrong call. You can think that the whole world is against you, and it is easy to get depressed.

But God wants you to put joy in the work you do. He created you for work. So take time to rejoice in what you do.

And today, when everything comes flying at you and you just want to scream, think of how God wants you to put joy in the work He creates for you. After all, God takes joy in your work, so you should reach for the joy of our heavenly Father when things come fast and furious.

At work today, be like my mentor and put joy in the work – whatever the task.

It is your lot in life!

Prayer
Lord, help me put joy in the work I do today – no matter how large or small, major or minor, my tasks may be. And help me be like You, Lord – loving those around me who struggle to find Your joy. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Kevin Cooney, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Beppu, Japan

The Christian Public Servant – “a perfect workday”

October 18, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
Psalm 37:5-6 [NIV] Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Reflection
A good workday. That means many things to many people. For some, a good workday is actually no workday – time off for vacation. For others, it is a workday free from stress. Still others view a good workday when certain tasks need not be done.

But shouldn’t we envision a bit more than just a good workday? After all, we are children of God. Shouldn’t we expect a perfect workday?

For me, a perfect workday doesn’t entail a vacation. It’s not necessarily stress-free. It may even include the most distasteful tasks. No, for me a perfect workday begins when I rise early and first thing, commit my thoughts, my actions, and my life to the Hand of God. Then I take on my workday with faith that His fingerprints will be all over it – as His righteousness shines through me to those in my workplace. It entails me trusting Him for protection and for peace with coworkers, supervisors, and those I serve.

It is my prayer that you and I will have more than just a good workday. I pray we will have a perfect workday – now and forever!

Prayer
Good morning, God! I know You have my day already figured out. I commit to You, as I rely on Your grace and will in making this a perfect workday. Tonight, long after the setting of that noonday sun, I want to reflect and know You were with me in my workplace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Deanna Alexander, M.A.
County Supervisor 
Milwaukee County 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA

The Christian Public Servant – “with intentional words”

October 17, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Psalms 19:14 [NLT] Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me.

Reflection
There is an art to legislative writing. On a small level, I see the careful efforts of our City Clerk and City Attorney as they draft legislation for our City Council meetings. Ultimately, they want to avoid presenting vague or unenforceable language in the various ordinances that are presented to the Council to vote on. So, the language must be clear with intentional words.

Speaking deliberately is important to many public sector jobs. What you say bears weight with people. Yet, as a Christian public servant, how often do you apply that principle to your walk with God as you serve others in the workplace? And how often do you pray with intentional words?

Life is quite hectic – and so is the job – I know mine is. There is always plenty to keep us busy and distracted. Sometimes that translates into my prayer life. In fact, sometimes I pray for the sake of praying rather than for the sake of seeking His intervention.

What about you?

Today at work, I want to be intentional with my communication with God. I want to speak and pray with intentional words. I want Him to know His direction is crucial to my life and my work-life.

I want Him to be the center of my workday. Don’t you want the same?

So today, as this workweek begins, speak and pray with intentional words.

Prayer
Savior, I lead my efforts today for Your kingdom. Let me be a light to my colleagues and the public. Grant me wisdom in my speech. Anoint my countenance that I glorify You. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Courtney Christian, M.A.
City Administrator
City of Leesville
Leesville, Louisiana, USA

The Christian Public Servant – “drink from His cup”

October 14, 2016 – Friday

Reading
Luke 22:42-43 [KJV] Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

Reflection
For the first 15 years here, I did not have any personal relations – not with other brothers and not with correctional officers. I even lost contact with family on the outside. I was filled with hatred, anger, and a lot of sorrow. I was also filled with regret.

And so I refused to drink from His cup. I wanted my will, not His. All day I would just sit and think about wanting to take back the day that got me here. But I also wanted to get even with everyone I blamed for getting me here and keeping me here. Everyone except me. And so everyone was my enemy.

Then in my 16th year here, I found my Lord. And when I gave my life to Jesus, I let go and let God do His will in me. I started to drink from His cup. Now it was His will, not mine. And one day He told me to share His word with others – including the correctional officers. So I had to continue to drink from His cup and allow Him to strengthen me to share His word.

And because I let go and let God do His will in me, the blessings have been awesome.

Each day do you drink from His cup? At home? At church? How about in your workplace? I know sometimes you do not want to. Somedays you are angry. Hateful. Filled with so much sorrow, you don’t know what to do. There are times when you are filled with anything but God’s love. And you simply don’t like where you are or what you do or who you are. And you don’t want to take that drink.

As you go to work today, and throughout the weekend, let go and let God do His will in you. He will strengthen you so you can strengthen others.

Today at work, and this weekend, drink from His cup. And the blessings will be awesome!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for strengthening me so I can carry out Your will. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “a pledge of your heart”

October 13, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Hebrews 13:16(b) (MSG) God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Reflection
Devotionals for The Christian Public Servant are written by volunteers from across the world. Few are excellent writers, but most are average or even sub-average – needing the help of our editors. Regardless of writing skill, all volunteers are led by the Holy Spirit to introduce informally and conversationally issues, fears, and praises concerning the job, the career, or things outside the workplace that impact the job or career. Our editors are also led by the Holy Spirit in shaping each devotional so that He has the greatest opportunity to touch the heart of the reader.

We are running out of devotions for The Christian Public Servant. If you are led by Him, please consider a pledge of your heart to write one devotional each month. It would be a blessing to thousands across the world – especially that one person “out there” who truly needs to read your devotional on “that” particular day.

Below are the “tips” on how to write our devotionals.

Questions? Please contact any of the editors listed below. And please send any one of us your devotionals!

And thank you for all you do in His name!

Prayer
Father, if it is Your will, let volunteers write devotionals. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Co-Editors:
Kevin Cooney kjcjapan@gmail.com
Bill Dudley bbssongs@gmail.com
Jonathan Lantz jklantz@outlook.com
Shelia Malone shelia.malone@students.jsums.edu
Christopher Meconnahey cmeconnahey@gmail.com
Tammy Peavy tammy.peavy@mid.ms.gov
Stephen Pincus spincus@nnva.gov
Jim Slack jslack0229@live.com
Greg Smith greg@kelseysarmy.org
Valerie Steele-Clearman valerieclearman68@gmail.com

Here is the tip-sheet: 10 tips

(1) PRAY — before you start writing. Follow the Holy Spirit. The task has nothing to do with your ego. It has everything to do with glorifying God.

(2) OVERALL:

  • Use the READING/REFLECTION/PRAYER format
  • Be CONCISE. The entire devotional should be less than 1 page. It should be designed for a quick read. Write as if it will be read at a traffic (red) light on the way to work. No tangents. No redundancies.
  • Keep it SIMPLE. Simple words – not complex ideas with complex words. ONLY ONE simple moral/scriptural/Christian point. Everything should be focused on the one point you want to make.
  • Keep in CONVERSATIONAL. Don’t worry about grammar. Write as if you are talking.
  • Keep it INTIMATE and PERSONAL. Write as if you are talking to a good friend over a cup of coffee. Write about yourself or an experience that you’ve been through, or write about a friend and an experience he/she has been through.
  • Remember, you are NOT writing a Sunday school lesson or a sermon or a lecture
  • You can “change the actors to protect the innocent or your job.” If it is about you, you can say “a friend called me last night…”
  • You can write it as a PARABLE. Keep in mind, Jesus taught best through parables. And, while I do not doubt the infallibility of scripture, parables are STORIES written to keep the attention of the audience. The details of a parable might change, depending on the audience, but the MORAL conclusion is always the same.
  • Your conclusions should be workplace or career or public service relevant. If you are a teacher/budget analyst/student/nurse — whatever – make it relevant to the workplace in general. You can write about your private/family life, but your conclusions should be relevant to the workplace. Make the connection to what should be learned and taken to work.
  • And PLEASENO POLITICS and NO IDEOLOGY. Jesus was (is) neither a liberal nor a conservative. Practicing Christians are (can be) either liberal or conservative in their view of the political world.

(3) Section on SCRIPTURE

  • Use ONLY biblical scripture. No other literature.
  • Use scripture relevant to the point you are making. Use only parts of scripture that are most relevant.
  • You can use any Bible version you want (e.g., NIV, KJ, etc.), but state which version you are using. (If you don’t, I will have to choose a version if I cannot figure out your version.)
  • Use few scriptures. Never use more than 3 scriptures. 1 is better than 2. Have a really good reason for >1.

(4) Section on REFLECTION

  • Do not add other scriptures/readings into the REFLECTION. Keep the REFLECTION focused only on the scripture used in the READING section.
  • One paragraph: tell a workplace or worker story
  • Another paragraph: link it to scripture
  • Final paragraph: link it to what the reader should take to work that day.

(5) Section on PRAYER – Keep it focused on the REFLECTION & keep it short.

(6) SIGNATURE

  • State your NAME as how you want it. Degrees are OK to list.
  • State your official title or what you do
  • State your agency
  • State your city/ state (province)/ and nation.

(7) PRAY before you send it in.

(8) ATTENTION: FIRST-TIME authors:

  • Make sure we have your email address. We will need it to send you a Contributor’s Agreement if you want it to be included in the next edition of the book version, The Christ Worker: Devotions for Job and Career (Emeth Press, 2017)
  • Send in a picture of you (for the book version). Either a picture of you doing what you do in the workplace or a shoulder/head shot picture.

(9) HAVE FUN GLORIFYING GOD!!!!!!! J It will take some thought and work, but glorifying God should always be fulfilling and fun!!!

(10) FINALLY (whew!)

Remember, we edit your work. We do so for three reasons: (a) to protect you from embarrassment, (b) to protect the reader from boredom, and (3) to give a “common voice” to the devotionals. We edit about four hours on each devotional. We might change your words, rearrange your sentences, rewrite parts, delete parts (especially where you are redundant or tangential to the ONE point you are making). We may even add sentences or paragraphs to enhance it.

Yes, we know, the Holy Spirit is guiding you in writing the devotional. But the Holy Spirit is also guiding us in the editing (or rewriting) of the devotional. And remember, it is STILL your work! It is STILL what the Holy Spirit placed in your heart. Our job is to make sure YOUR WORK helps the Holy Spirit reach the reader.

So let’s both you and us glorify God and let not our egos get in the way! J

The Christian Public Servant – “forgive even without an apology”

October 12, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Ephesians 4:31-32 [NIV] Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Reflection
It seems like the workplace is a convenient setting to hurt someone’s feelings, and get away with doing so without ever apologizing. There are too many ways to “keep going” at work – too many ways to pretend like nothing happened. This makes it hard to forgive a coworker who hurts you – especially when there is no “I’m sorry.”

Have you ever been hurt by a coworker who did not apologize?

Well, for a moment try to imagine that he just didn’t know any better. Or maybe no one taught her about kindness or compassion. Or maybe no one loved that particular coworker when he was a child – or still doesn’t love him as an adult. Maybe the person comes to work from a place of hurt, and she brings a heart filled with hurt. After all, hurt people often hurt other people.

As you reflect on that coworker, remember Christ wants you to forgive even without an apology. Only He knows what is going on in that person’s heart, and rest assured, He is working on that heart. So as a Christian public servant, do what Christ wants – respond with His love and not with your own hurt feelings.

Today at work, there may be times when someone will do and say things to hurt you. And the coworker may do this and never say “I’m sorry.” You have a choice to make. You can hold on to that hurt, become bitter, and lash out to retaliate or even hurt others. Or you can follow scripture – obey God – and be a reflection of Christ.

Which will it be?

At work today, forgive even without an apology and open the way for God to do some healing.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, soften my heart today so I might forgive others as You forgive me. Help me understand that an apology may never come, but I must be willing to forgive – with or without it. Help me model Your Son’s example of forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Dawnielle Ballard
Health Partner Resolution Specialist
CareSource
Youngstown, Ohio USA