Reflecting on Energy – and Lack of It!
After decades of being highly active in my work and amazing people with how much I got done, I have experienced a slump in motivation for a while. I used to enjoy days in my office with my self as my boss, but recently only a deadline gets me going. Why? First, I was underchallenged. I finished writing a book but I no longer had articles to write because so many magazines had gone out of print. Second, a work relationship became discouraging and debilitating; no amount of talking remedied it. Finally, five books went out of print. I felt useless and lethargic sitting at my desk. The other parts of my life–my life with God and my family – were energetic and full of life. I still enjoyed speaking, teaching and doing spiritual direction, but I had to force myself to get through my daily work in my office.
So I began reviewing what already know about Living a Purpose-Full Life: to focus as much of my work as possible on addressing things that break the heart of God (living an inauthentic life with God, social injustice); to practice the presence of God all day long as I had learned from Brother Lawrence. I reexamined these things from the basement level up, making a bright blue “cheat sheet” to guide me through my day. Here are a few things on that sheet.
- I start the workday with: “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24). I place that next to the day’s “to do” list (which I try to make the previous day).
- When finishing a task, I reflect and celebrate. I pray the following:
Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish for us the work of our hands –
O prosper the work of our hands! Ps 90:16-17
This has been especially helpful because in the past, I’ve moved from task to task without pausing.
- To address that sense of uselessness, discouragement and feeling overlooked, I memorized this and focused on this idea of God’s hand moving:
If your sincere intent is to glorify God & bless people in your efforts,
And you are not motivated by self-focused unloving attitudes,
You will see the hand of God move with you as you do your work.
(Dallas Willard, “Who Is Your Teacher?”)
So my job is not to move God’s hand or to make my work effective; my job is to keep a right heart, one that:
- makes God’s goodness, beauty, strength and power obvious (glorifying God),
- intends to bless people,
- is selfless and loving.
People and circumstances were wearing away my belief that I work with God and God works with me. That despair keeps me from trusting that God’s hand is moving even if I can’t see it. I serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not myself, not publishers, not even my readers, students or directees.
- Finally, a fave Andrew Murray quote that always makes me grin:
“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His love.” I want to cooperate with God and expect God to supply the power I need.
This rhythm of work and reflection during my work day has made me wonder if I was previously running somewhat on ego (and caffeine). Perhaps. I’m no longer aiming for energetic activity, but purposeful, reflective effort to bless others.
Grace and peace,
© Jan Johnson – For permission to reprint, https://janjohnson.org/reprints.html
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