Why Your Most Important Work Isn't at Work

What is more important than your to-do list?

I’m one of those “career driven” people. I got my first job when I was 14 as a waitress, not because my parents made me but because I wanted to work. In high school, I read Jack Welsch books because I decided I wanted to run a major business when I grew up. Once I graduated college, I got a full-time job and also decided to go to grad school in the evenings. In my current job, I work from home and am always tempted to be putting in too many hours and make everything the best it can be. Instead of dreaming of having kids or being a stay-at-home mom, I dream about promotions and the next big project I can take on. For as long as I can remember, I have always placed great value and worth in the job I am doing, and I see how God has uniquely designed me to excel through my work.

The other day I received a text from my friend that said she really needed to talk with me and asked if I was free for lunch. As I looked to my right my eyes caught the giant to-do list I had created that morning, and my immediate thought was, No way. Don’t have time. I waited to text back as I finished a few emails, and had a sinking feeling that I was supposed to say yes to my friend. As I hopped in the car a few hours later to meet up with her, I was thinking about what time I had to end our get together so I could get home and finish getting through my inbox.

Sitting over lunch, my friend opened up about challenges in her marriage that were overtaking her. She felt defeated, hopeless, and very confused on what she should do next. The tears poured from her eyes as she explained how distant she felt from her husband and the complete chaos that her life had become. In just under two hours, we walked through Scripture and sought the Lord together, coming up with an action plan and some “homework” for her to do. In a way that is hard to describe, I watched the Lord use me to challenge and encourage her through his wisdom. When she left she hugged me and said, “I have a lot of friends that would have just told me my husband was a jerk and I deserved better. Thanks for challenging me to be a stronger wife. I feel 100x better already.”

When I woke up earlier that day, I thought the biggest way God would use me was through my job. After all, I know my career is something God has asked me to use for his glory. However, God asked me to step away from my “work” to do a much more important work, being his hands and feet to my friend and sharing his light in a very dark situation. Are you often too busy doing the things you think God has for you that you miss the small opportunities to encourage others and share his truth? I know this happens to me a lot.

When my husband comes home from work, we often summarize our days by saying how much we accomplished. I will say something like, “Finally finished that big project!” We measure our days in the things we get done. This past week, a two-hour lunch break with my friend definitely got in the way of my to-do list, but I accomplished something much greater. I realized some of my best work doesn’t happen at work but rather when I follow Christ’s lead to put my own agenda and plans aside so I can serve and love others.

I’m working to view my hours and days as valuable not because of what I accomplished but in following Jesus’ example of stopping to hang out with the woman at the well, kneeling down to heal the lame, and eating dinner with tax collectors. I imagine Jesus had other things on his agenda for those days, but when the Father asked him to make a change, he always did.

Are you seeking to do what God sees as most important? Reflect with him on these two questions: How can I always be listening to find out what work God wants me to accomplish? How can I choose to invest in people and the Kingdom with the same (or greater) determination and focus I put into my job?

Hannah Nitz is the Communications Coordinator with Authentic Intimacy, a women's media ministry focused on intimacy in marriage and intimacy with Christ. Follow her work on Authentic Intimacy's Blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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