The Christian Public Servant – “the spiritual lens He gives”

February 28, 2017 – Tuesday

Reading
Proverbs 27:3 [ESV] Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

1 Peter 3:10(b)-11 [ESV] let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him speak peace and pursue it.

Reflection
The workplace brings on competitive behaviors, but one behavior is rather dangerous: unbridled self-promotion. You know what happens. This kind of self-promotion undermines coworkers, oversteps boundaries, operates from a place of dishonesty, and manipulates others in order to get something or someplace. But what becomes even more dangerous is how Christians react to unbridled self-promotion. It’s easy to be quick to take off our spiritual glasses – to respond in our natural shades – in ways that may also be just as deceitful. It’s easy to forget that the spiritual lens He gives us renders perfect vision. It is this lens that keeps our sight firm in our witness to others in the workplace as we respond to the egos surrounding us.

As a Christian public servant, give pause when someone brags – even when bragging begins to undermine and overstep. Don’t respond in your natural shades – even when self-promotion becomes dishonest and manipulative. Instead ask, Who will you allow your response to reflect? And what lens will you choose to use – your own shades or the spiritual lens He gives you? Then keep your tongue civil – away from evil – and find a way to do good in your response. Find a way to do good for the self-promoter and for others. Do good for Him.

Today at work, carry the light of Christ so you know where you are walking. Wear the spiritual lens He gives so you can see what you are looking at. Let your response to self-promotion not add to deceit. Rather, let it show the character of the One who gives you that light of grace, favor, and strength. Your response will bring others – even that one who self-promotes constantly – onto the path of righteousness, goodness, and peace.

And, oh, what a better workday this will be!

Prayer
Lord, I ask You to clean my spiritual lens today so I can see what You want me to see. So that I may not add to deceit and respond to others the way You want – not by my shades, but by Your lens. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

LaShonda Garnes, MPA
Business Operations Manager
Public Works & Utilities
City of Wichita
Wichita, Kansas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “lunch food that really matters”

February 27, 2017 – Monday

Reading
Amos 8:11 [MEV] The time is coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

Jean 6:26(b)-27 [MEV] Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

Reflection
Around the table at my lunch room, coworkers share all sorts of foods and recipes: gourmet, organic, desserts! The scents are, every day, quite delightful. For many of us, how we eat is deeply connected to our social lives and certain dishes connect us emotionally to some memories. For my part, sweets and pastries bring me an important level of comfort and joy! And the amazing thing is that good food usually brings coworkers closer to the table.

But in too many workplaces, junk food abounds. Despite health claims, marketing still disguises junk food as being more attractive with the magic words of “LOW FAT, LESS SALT, alternate sugars” to give them legitimacy. But junk food only satisfies for a limited time. Science is right. Wholesome food, especially at lunch time, makes a difference in how you fuel your body for the rest of the workday.

The same applies spiritually. Workplace “munchies” – like listening to one gospel song, or a quick “microwave” prayer, or mumbling a few words before eating, or even reading a verse on the run – provides spiritual junk food that gives only limited satisfaction to the soul. And when a real crisis comes, you have no energy. You have no fuel for the fight.

Choosing lunch food that really matters – spiritual food and earthly food – is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. So at work today, enjoy a good lunch that truly fills your body with health. Remember, your Savior was born in Bethlehem, the city called the house of bread. Feed off that bread, too. Let it bring others closer to the table so they may share its multiple recipes for God’s glory!

Yes, take time at lunch to really connect with God. Reading His Word, spending time in prayer, and singing praises sounds like a blessed three-course meal! Food from His field and loaves from His word. Today, pick lunch food that really matters.

Bon appétit!

Prayer
Dear Father, thank You for providing me with daily bread. Help me thirst for Your presence and feed on Your word so I can stand stronger in my workplace, and in this world, and share my bread with those who are seeking You. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Evelyne F. Altima
Language Assessment Services
Government of Canada
Québec, Canada

The Christian Public Servant – “get out of God’s way”

February 24, 2017 – Friday

Reading
1 Samuel 16:6-7 [NLT] When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Reflection
A lot of times, we pick the people we want to love and show compassion – especially to share our testimonies and fresh revelations. We tend to choose comfortable people to do these things with because it makes us feel secure. And we convince ourselves that they deserve our attention because they are Holy enough.

And this seems true in the workplace. It is in mine. How about yours?

But if you and I get out of God’s way, we will find out that God’s choice is better than ours. We find this in scripture where Eliab looked the part, but David was God’s choice.

At work today, get out of God’s way and try to look upon others – everyone – with God’s eyes. And let Him choose, not you.

You won’t be as comfortable as you’d like, but being comfortable is never part of His deal!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for continuing each day to not only change my heart, but to remove everything out of my eye-gate so I can pick who You are leading me to. Amen.

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

The Christian Public Servant – (don’t) “look back with regret”

February 23, 2017 – Thursday

Reading
Genesis 19:26 [NKJV] But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Philippians 3:14 [NKJV] I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Reflection
In Genesis, Lot’s wife looked back. We don’t know why she looked back. We only know she was told not to.

It is easy to look back with regret at some of our decisions in life, especially career decisions. If I had continued my original course in college, which was to become a lawyer, I would have ended up in a totally different place than I am today. I would likely wake each morning and be looking into the eyes of a different wife and children. I might be richer or poorer. I would likely be living someplace else. My life would be different. However, no matter how different life would have been, my life’s mission would have been the same: serving our Lord through the work of my mind, hands, and heart on a daily basis. I would still be pressing toward Him.

Somedays it is easy to look on the past and wonder about “the road not taken.” It is easy to look back with regret when you are having a bad day at work. Like everyone, you have made both good and bad career decisions. Regardless, God can use you where you are, if you let Him. You must look to what you can do for God, not what you could have done. God wants to use you; just be willing to say, “Yes Lord, use me.”

I have no regrets about past career choices because I know God has blessed me in the here and now. I am blessed with food, shelter, and a loving family so I look forward. I do my best to serve God through my work on a daily basis. You can too.

Today at work, strive to build His kingdom because you will one day be with Him there. You job is your ministry. So do not look back with regret at what might have been, but look forward to what you can do today for God through your work.

Dedicate this workday, and all that follow, by serving God without regret. Press forward!

Prayer
Lord, help me never to regret where You have allowed me to serve You today. Keep me focused on serving You in the here and now so that one day I can be with You with no regrets for my service for You. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Kevin Cooney
Visiting Professor
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Beppu, Japan

The Christian Public Servant – “the same question Jesus asked”

February 22, 2017 – Wednesday

Reading
Luke 9:20(b) [ESV] “But who do you say that I am?”

I Peter 2:25 [ESV] For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Reflection
Who do you say that I am?” That’s the question Jesus asked those closest to Him in His work. Jesus didn’t need to ask this question to know who He was, but He wanted to know how His disciples perceived Him. You and I can grow closer to Him by asking Christians around us this same question about ourselves.

Especially in the workplace, it seems so easy to drift. After all, we are away from family and friends. Left alone, we’re like sheep prone to wander – and there are many who prefer us that way. The temptation is great to do what we want rather than what God wants and what is best for coworkers. So accountability to others is one of the ways God holds us accountable to Him.

One way to grow in your Walk is to ask the Christians in your work group the same question Jesus asked: “Who do you say that I am?” Be prepared to learn more about yourself and how others perceive you. If your Christian coworkers are honest, some will approve of who you are. But honest brothers and sisters may also point out spiritual weaknesses. Remember, both encouragement and critique are necessary for your growth in Christ to be more like Him.

At some point today at work – perhaps at a break or at lunch – pull aside one or more close Christian coworkers. Ask the same question Jesus asked.

And have ears to listen so you can grow in Him and grow toward others.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank You for growing me through my brothers and sisters in Your workplace. Help me have teachable ears and a heart that speaks truth with love when I am asked to share my thoughts. May You be pleased and honored by my words. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Linda Waugh, B.S.
Editor/Graphic Artist
Briarwood Presbyterian Church
Birmingham, Alabama USA

Jonathan Waugh, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences
School of Health Professions
Samford University
Homewood, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “some kind of new”

February 21, 2017 – Tuesday

Reading
2 Corinthians 5:7 [NIV] For we live by faith, not by sight.

James 4:7(b)-8(a) [NIV] Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Reflection
Are you navigating some kind of new? You might see the “new” bringing excitement and curiosity. Then again, you also might feel the “new” bringing discomfort and fear. It’s true, “new” easily changes the comfort level, and that can be scary. Fear of the unknown can limit success and prompt second-guessing about happiness and security.

Right now, I’m walking through some kind of new. And I struggle. What if the door God opens doesn’t look like the one I prayed for? What if God’s plan doesn’t look like my plan? What if I fail?

I struggle with these thoughts of fear even when a dear friend reminds me that God never intends for anyone to be miserable. Yet I still struggle. Though my faith says my God is a good God who always looks after me, my brain can doubt that very foundation.

Then it hit me. These doubtful thoughts are of the devil. I need to resist the devil, for he will flee. I need to turn my mourning into joy and my gloom into praise. The Lord – my Lord –requires me to live by faith. Does the Lord – your Lord – not require the same of you? And living by faith leaves no room for either living by sight or living by thought.

Today at work, don’t be afraid of some kind of new. Just come nearer to God, and He will come nearer to you! And the fear from Satan will quickly flee.

Prayer
Father, thank You for the desires and dreams You give me. Thank You for opportunities to navigate the new. Give me wisdom to recognize the devil and his schemes of evil. Give me the ability to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. I pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Kathryn Saunders
Head Soccer Coach
Texas Southern University
Houston, Texas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “just to replenish”

February 20, 2017 – Monday

Reading
1 Kings 19:7-8 [NLT] Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

Reflection
Do you take the time just to replenish yourself?

With the pressures and demands of work last week, I got exhausted. I barely found the mental energy to think about the physical energy it took to go to the grocery store later in the afternoon. My levels of stress and irritability were high, while my level of caring was minimal. I discovered I was depriving myself from all relationships – family, friends, and God. To be quite honest, I was doing just enough to get by.

As this workweek begins, I need just to replenish myself spiritually, mentally, and physically. This is vital to being a Christian public servant. God gives you and me tremendous talents and abilities, but without the energy to perform, we neglect His gifts. If we are not able to give our best, we are depriving ourselves, others, and God of our full potential.

Today, remember to find time just to replenish yourself. Take that quick moment to do so spiritually, mentally, and physically. I know, you have to go above and beyond in your job do your best in all situations.

So at work today, find the time and opportunity just to replenish yourself. A break. A minute. Or even a second. Revitalize your mind and heart so God can fully use you to go the forty days and forty nights of this coming week!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, You know my heart and mind. You know when I am mentally and physically drained. Help me keep Your temple filled with energy and vitality derived from You so I may constantly be Your physical hands and feet. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Angela Arbitter, MPA
International Justice Mission
Gulu, Uganda