The Workplace as An Altar

“When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music” (Kahlil Gibran).

There’s a famous little book written centuries ago called Practicing the Presence of God that came out of a monastery. The author was a man whose livelihood was as a cook and dishwasher.

There has been a false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. There has been an underlying and unspoken rule that you can only worship in places considered sacred and holy. You can only worship on Sunday.

The truth is that the admonition is to do all that you do to the glory of God and to offer your bodies as living sacrifices as your act of worship. That includes your work day.

When you view your job not as drudgery and a paycheck but as a calling and a mission field, it changes the way you work. You go from doing the bare minimum to giving your very best. Your job goes from performing tasks to serving people.

You may not be in your dream job. You may wish that you could be someplace– anyplace– else other than where you are. The best advice I can give to you (that did not originate with me) is to bloom where you’re planted. Thrive in your present circumstances by learning to cultivate a heart of gratitude.

I can certainly attest to what it’s like to go through long periods without having a job. Not only does it drain the bank account but it affects your sense of self-worth after a while.

The best testimony I know of is someone who does everything with joy and gratitude. That’s what makes people stand up and take notice. No one cares about your faith if you have a bad attitude and a poor work ethic.

So make your workplace an altar and your job an offering.


Learning to Listen Well


I love serving at Room in the Inn at my church during the colder months of the year. It helps more than anything to get me out of myself and into a more others-centered mind frame.

Tonight, I went to a dinner where Dr. Ken Corr, Congregational Care Minister at Brentwood Baptist Church, spoke about how to effectively minister to the homeless. One of the takeaways for me was empathetic listening.

Empathetic listening seeks to understand what the person speaking is feeling. It’s where you step into that person’s shoes and hear the story from their side.

It’s not about giving advice or trying to fix their story to make it better. It’s not even about offering to give their story a better outcome. It’s certainly not about formulating your response (as I have so often done) so that you will come across as wiser and kinder than you really are.

For someone to tell you their story is a rare and precious gift. They are inviting you into their private world, letting you in to a place that few people have been allowed. You should value that trust and respect the gift.

But also, the gift of truly listening is equally a special gift to someone. You’re saying to that person, “You are not invisible, because I see you in your struggles and triumphs, joys and pains. You are not alone, because I am a witness to your story and I know where you’ve been and what you’ve been through.”

You earn the right to speak life and blessing into a person’s life by listening to not just their words, but the feelings behind those words. Many times, the person will be unable to understand their own feelings related to their story. You can share what their story made you feel and in that way help them understand their own emotions.

I want to be a better listener. I want to learn to listen to what you have to say, for that is one of the ways God often speaks to me. May we all learn to listen well.

Matthew 5:23-24 In My Own Words

“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God”

This is my interpretation:

If you’re in the middle of a worship service and remember that someone has offended you or upset you, or if you need to make the relationship right, don’t even finish the song you’re singing. Don’t wait one minute, but go to that person immediately and do everything in your power to make it right.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, if you see that you haven’t been as good a friend or brother or sister or parent as you could have been, go make it right. If you realize you’ve been taking a relationship for granted, go make it right. If God brings to your attention someone you’ve been neglecting, go to that person and make it right again.

After that, you can truly worship. You can truly raise your hands to God in praise. Then you’ll be ready to see God work in your life.

An Awesome Definition for Worship


“Worship is extravagant love and extreme submission.”

I love that definition.

Too often, worship is all about singing songs. It’s all too easy to sit back and critique the song choices and musical styles and whether or not those around me are worshiping the “right” way.

In Nashville, it’s easy to let worship become all about the level of musicianship and charasmatic personality. It’s easy to manipulate a crowd into a frenzy if you’re talented enough, but that’s not worship.

Worship is extravagant love. I can’t help but thinking about the woman who poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and then wiped those feet with her hair. That was more than inconvenient. That was extremely costly and humiliating. That’s worship.

It’s also extreme submission. It’s surrendering my own illusion of self-control and admitting that I have a desperate need for God. And it starts long before you enter the sanctuary and the church service and doesn’t end when you pass the exit doors on your way out into the parking lot.

Worship is not an event, but a lifestyle of saying, “Not my will, but Thine.”

I don’t normally do this, but I posted a link to a fantastic blog about the nature of worship that I ran across today.

I challenge to you read it and let it soak into your very being.

If I’m truly worshipping in Romans 12:1-2 fashion and being transformed by the renewing of my mind and offering my body as a living sacrifice, then it won’t matter whether I’m singing the most current and trendy modern worship songs or the old, old hymns.

It won’t matter if there’s a rockin’ worship band, or a guy with a guitar, or an orchestra and choir, or just a piano and organ.

It will be worship. It will declare the great worth of God to the world.

After all, like the song says, it’s not about me. It’s all about You, Jesus.