Healthy Habits for Working From Home

I have worked remotely for more than ten years. Previously, people were always surprised and excited to hear this. They ask if I work from bed, and if I nap on the job, but the most common question is: “So you don’t even have to wear pants, right?” And now I have a platform to finally set the record straight: Nope, I don’t have to wear pants. Just to be clear, I DO, but it’s not technically a job requirement while I’m at home… 😂

But this year I am no longer one of the lucky few, as almost everyone in the world has joined the telecommuting club. And just like me, they quickly discovered that it is less Risky Business and more standing crouched over your keyboard because your cat stole your office chair.

Working from home is a double-edged sword. While it comes with amazing perks and benefits, it can also be isolating and discouraging.  Now that you’re working remotely you no longer feel that human connection with your coworkers. While before when you were in the office, you could get face-time with the boss, build relationships with coworkers, and be that salty bright-shining lover of Jesus you are. But now, on top of quarantine, and all else going on in the world, it feels a bit like a prison sentence. (Okay that was a huge exaggeration, but you get my point). How in the world can we thrive and grow in a situation like this that is so not ideal? By taking care of yourself, connecting with your co-workers, and giving 100% to your work. Here is what I have learned about how to have a thriving remote work life.

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Take Care of Yourself 

Forget your job responsibilities for a second. Before we go any further, please take care of yourself Physically, Mentally, and Spritually. I know you’re probably sick of hearing it but I’m going to be your mother for a second and say it again: Drink more water. Exercise. Get more sleep. Stay connected to your people. If you’re struggling personally, find a solid counselor who can walk through this time with you with the right perspective. Finally, Pray. Be in the Word of God every single day. Cast all your cares on our Father who loves your soul too much to let you remain undisciplined. Consider this your official permission to be patient and forgiving toward yourself. 

Invest in Relationships

It’s difficult to feel connected to your job if you aren’t connected to your co-workers. I have always advocated for this; happiness in a job is really about the people. If you aren’t able to relate in a healthy way to the people around you, the work day will be long and difficult. What helps me is that I like to think of my job as a mission field. It helps infuse meaningful purpose into my otherwise boring daily tasks and gives me an opportunity to work my faith muscles and practice Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” That’s why I make an effort to invest in relationships with coworkers. Choose one person and show them in your own way that they valued and appreciated. Keep it simple and professional.  You don’t have to be best friends, but to take interest in a person’s life, feelings, burdens goes a long way. 

Take Care of Business

To put it simply, do your very best work, every day. Make a commitment to integrity. Proverbs 10:9 says: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. This means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Here are some ideas to let people know that you not only care about them, you are committed to being a team player.

Metrics. Fulfilling the job description is the most basic thing you can nail. If you are struggling in some area to deliver results, work with your manager to come up with a plan. He/She will see that you are trying and you will feel good knowing there’s nothing to hide.

Contribute in Meetings. One of the most awkward things to sit through is a meeting when no one is responding to a question. Most of the time I try to prepare a little something to say, even if it’s not mindblowing. I know that I am always put at ease when someone gets up the courage to unmute and weigh in. More than this, managers notice the people who are engaged and interested in collaborating. It’s the next best thing next to real-life face time with the boss.

Bring the Solution. Think of something that is missing from your daily processes that would help improve on your goals. Perhaps a process that could be done more efficiently, and have fun coming up with ideas on how it could be implemented, and then share them with your team. A positive attitude and focus on solutions while pointing out flaws is much better for everyone and they will all benefit from the outcome.

If there was one time I wish I could look into the future, it’s now. As I know you probably are as well, I am just aching to see how this all shakes out. In the meantime, working from home is here to stay. My prayer is that you wouldn’t just be barely surviving from week to week, but that this adversity would test and strengthen all of our resolve to continue running the race of faith.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

2 Corinthians 4:7
Christian woman

When Pride Turns Blessings into Rights

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The thing about working for large public corporations is that unless you are very high up, you are at the mercy of the decision makers’ whims. We all understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Likewise, it is understood that perfect justice is just not possible in human terms. Regardless, I still find myself in a state of unfounded anger when things are “just not fair”. If you are the lowest on the totem pole like myself, changing circumstances at work can feel like you’re drifting aimlessly with the tide.

This morning I discovered that a certain work benefit was being taken away and replaced with something inferior. That old familiar pang of helplessness mixed with anger reared its ugly head. Nevermind the objective reason that it is a for-profit company reallocating money from one thing to another. I felt indignant, affronted, entitled to the previous level of benefits I had enjoyed before. I am neither the newest nor the oldest employee, nor the one with the most responsibility. Still somehow it was a personal insult in the face of my hard work and loyalty.

After I had a moment to cool down, I was convicted in my spirit that something else was going on inside. This job is steady. My pay is not bad. I have very good health benefits. I enjoy a healthy work-life balance. My management stands behind me and my coworkers are conscientious. I am good at what I do and while I don’t consider this job my purpose in life, I believe it is preparing me for what is next. Why then was I so outraged by such a small change of circumstance which, honestly, could be worse?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 

1 Peter 5:8

There’s a deep disconnect between what we believe we are entitled to and the ebb and flow of circumstance. Now I may only be a thirty-something millennial from southern California, but bear with me here: Pride is the root of sin everywhere. As citizens of the world we are steeped in this lie. Lenders, salespeople, marketing agencies, even your own trusted people will all tell you at some point that you deserve X simply because you exist. Maybelline declares, “You’re worth it”, and we believe that we are. But don’t miss the metamorphosis of a “blessing” into “right”. How can we guard against these false prophets of pride?

Be in the Word and prayer daily

Remember, prayer isn’t for changing our circumstances. It changes us as we engage with our Father and the Lord of Heaven. As we engage in prayer we get to know ourselves in relation to the Father and as we read the Bible little by little with an open heart and mind, we get to know God: his character, his truths, and the overarching story of redemption that he is bringing to completion with each passing moment. Let the Holy Spirit convict you and show you what this looks like. Don’t assume you have to do the same thing your friend does – this is your relationship so take ownership and watch how he grows you! 

Consider the Input

What do you willingly allow into your mind? (Movies, TV shows, social media, etc) What messages are you accepting whether intentionally or subconsciously? This is a personal question and the answers will vary wildly from one believer to the next, based on experience, sensitivity, and where you are in your faith journey. It is important to recognize that influence by the world on a believer is real. The enemy is really out there, and his greatest desire is to build up our tolerance for things that stand against God and his will for his children. Believers must take responsibility to actively monitor their own decisions and repent from disobedience.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

Proverbs 4:23

Filter each message through the Truth of Scripture 

We must be careful to examine the messages we are fed every day.  Even well-meaning words can be destructive if you don’t have a healthy biblical filter of God’s word. I confess I struggle with this too, sometimes life just comes at you so fast that you really don’t take time to stop and remember to do this. It’s not an excuse to rely on what other people say or write or post online. Don’t take even your Pastor’s word for it without checking to make sure it is accurate. 

What comes out of my heart manifests in certain ways, like unkind words, or pride building up that causes anger to overtake my mood. When I noticed myself reacting in these ways I can pretty much bet something is going on underneath the surface. It is a big red flag that something is going on that needs to be dealt with. What kind of benefit could I possibly deserve in my own merit? I have nothing to my name except for what my Father kindly and compassionately gives. Romans 3:23-24 says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Thankfully, believers have the Holy Spirit to communicate and convict us of these things.

Journaling Prompts

  • Where in my life do I feel entitled to a certain circumstance/blessing/outcome?
  • How does pride manifest itself in my heart over this situation?
  • What do I need to repent of and change?
Woman studying the bible and journaling about spiritual growth

The unexpected joy of working through a pandemic

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 13:8

The one thing I did not expect to find in the pandemic was a deeper purpose in my day job. I am an account manager for an online conferencing company, and I am faced every single day with dozens of calls and emails from our customers who are reaching out for help navigating our changed world.

Many callers are owners of small businesses and worried about the future. They are on edge and deeply anxious about how they will get through the next year. With the stay-at-home order my job which was seemingly unimportant before the spread of COVID-19 was suddenly elevated to highly in-demand position. My focus is working with customers to help them find the best solution that will allow their businesses to succeed. It’s difficult and rewarding. While I would not have described it that way four months ago, these trying times have helped to shift my perspective from the immediate daily things to the eternal things.

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

These circumstances have revealed what I did not see before as valued. I have a unique opportunity and responsibility to answer customer calls as a representative of Jesus. Dealing in integrity and love, listening patiently to them when they are upset, and yes even when they are awful and rude. It is simply the challenge that He has put before me and planted me in for this season.

I am coming to understand the real reality of what Jesus was talking about when he told us to love our neighbors. Not when it’s convenient, but in all circumstances. Love one another in good times and bad.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

I don’t intend to over-spiritualize my job, but it was just such an unexpected but welcome thought, that I have been given this daily, built-in opportunity to serve others as a representative of Jesus, and it’s renewed every single morning. It’s because of this I have joy and peace amid the madness. 

So, I want to encourage and challenge you, friend, if you’re feeling like what you do doesn’t matter, if you’re being obedient to Jesus’s command then you are doing the biggest thing you could ever do. We don’t have to run large charitable organizations in order to make a difference. You and I, and everyone else, have all been given a particular sphere of influence – a mission field – in which to carry out the Word of God. Like the apostle Paul said: “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13).

How to keep your faith strong in a secular work environment

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 

JOHN 16:33

As redeemed daughters of God, we spend our days on earth constantly passing between two worlds: our personal lives and the secular workplace. In the morning we leave our home where we are free to paint our lives with the joy and freedom that Jesus brings. But then as we arrive at work we step into a very different place where Jesus is unwelcome and our selves unwelcome because of him.

If you’re like me, you feel a very real tension between your two worlds and have not quite mastered the act of passing between the two seamlessly. Of course we understand that we shouldn’t act differently, and that we shouldn’t  fear the judgement and persecution of the secular world. However, we also firmly stand on the heritage of boldness and hope exemplified throughout scripture as we seek to live our faith out where it can be seen. (Matthew 5:14-15; Romans 1:16).

I confess that I struggle with my identity in Jesus and the identity that the world expects of me. I want the best of both worlds. I want to be regarded highly both in church and at work. I want to be able to express my faith boldly in both arenas without skipping a beat and without receiving dirty looks or being avoided.

You may be getting a sense that this topic applies to much more than just being Christian at work and you’d be right. Even with a heavenly calling on me, I can get caught up in sin in spite of myself. The line gets blurred constantly. Things like gossiping, grumbling against management decisions, or even participating in less-than-godly conversations just to fit in can knock me off course at work.

So how do we maintain our purpose and razor sharp focus while the ruler of the world works to render us inefficient? Here are some practical ways that we can reinforce and realign our minds in the face of this great “tug-of-war”. 

Commit to being in the word of God daily

The Word of God changes us as we read it. And as you are being changed, your heart will naturally linger over Truth as you go about your day, even if you aren’t directly thinking about it. Romans 15:4 says: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

Hope. This is what we need when in the thick of it every day. The world is an ugly place, and everyone acts ugly in it at times. But the scriptures were meant for our benefit and instruction so that as long as we don’t give up, all the encouargement of our heavenly Father would produce hope. Not “I hope I win the lottery hope.” The joy and confident expectation of our salvation which we all await. 

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

JOHN 14:26

[Author’s note: There is no substitute for reading scripture for yourself without the added opinions of Bible scholars and other authors. While commentaries and devotionals certainly have their places as we grow spiritually, I would exhort you to make a point of getting to know God’s word with all your heart and all your mind, and depend on the Holy Spirit to do what He is best at: teaching and guiding us. The point is that you will be letting it change your heart. And as you persevere in making scripture a priority on a daily basis, I think you will find, as I have, that you become hungrier for it and stronger from it.]

Gather together – whatever that looks like

Christians aren’t meant to work alone in a vacuum. We are wired for community, especially in a gospel-hostile environment. Do you happen to know any co-workers who are Christian? Or people who might be on the fence? Taking extra care to pray, discern and respect comfort zones, be empowered to approach someone about starting a bible study. Depending on circumstances, suggest meeting over lunch once or twice a month. Perhaps you could work through a published study, or just read chapter by chapter through a book of the Bible. And then see what happens.

I recently had this impression that I should approach a certain co-worker of mine to see if she would be interested. I honestly had no idea where she was in her walk of faith or if she was even Christian. To my complete surprise, she was super enthusiastic about the idea and told me she had always wanted to do a bible study but never had the chance or tools to think it possible. 

Perhaps you don’t know a soul who would be interested right now. That’s okay. In the meantime, consider asking one or two other people from your church or social circle. Meet regularly to study and pray. Don’t be afraid to share the highs and lows of what it means to be a Christian in a secular workplace.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

MATTHEW 18:20

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 PETER 2:9

Pray for your workplace

Make a commitment to pray regularly over your job, co-workers, leaders, organization, and physical workplace (if you have one). Pray that Jesus would be on display first and foremost in your words and actions. Pray for hearts to be softened in order to receive the gospel message and that they would come to know the Lord if they haven’t already. While your prayers do not have the power to accept Jesus on behalf of others, God will certainly hear your intercessions and work things to the good of those who will come to know him. You’ll be changed too, as you pray for others, the bible tells us that our hearts are being sanctified too.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 TIMOTHY 2:1-5

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

COLOSSIANS 4:5-6

Reflection

In what ways do you maintain a vibrant faith at work? What did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Witnessing without words

I was recently at a coffee shop chatting with a friend and a man came to sit at the table near us. Feeling his stares, we both turned to him with a questioning look. “Would you ladies mind if I drew you for practice?” He pointed to a large sketch pad and pencil. We agreed, and about 30 minutes later when we got up to leave, he held out his drawing of us. Delighted at his talent, I encouraged his perseverance in art and turned to leave. My friend, however stood still and bluntly asked him a question. “Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?” I admit, I was embarrassed and uncomfortable. I wasn’t used to such blatant evangelization. People nearby turned their heads to listen in and I silently prayed for her to wrap it up so we could leave.

For a long time I considered this as the only way we Christians could share our faith, and it turned me off the whole idea. As a follower of Jesus, I know that we are commanded to “go and make disciples of all the nations”; this isn’t an option. However, for years I chose to ignore this command because, let’s face it. I care way too much what people think of me. I could never be that bold. My reaction that day in the coffee shop was shameful, but a small seed was planted that day, what would mature when the time was right.

Thankfully the Lord has ways of bringing certain topics around again when we are ready. Recently I was studying Acts chapter 16 and it dawned on me that the aggressive brand of evangelization I had experienced was NOT the only way we are able to reach out to others in the world. It was the story of Paul and Silas in prison that taught me my preconceived notions of witnessing were inaccurate.

I highly recommend reading the chapter for yourself in order to place this passage into proper context, but here is a snippet:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Acts 16:25-34

Notice that up until this point, Paul and Silas had not been sitting in their cells trying to convert every single prisoner and guard. They had not been preaching, or shoving pamphlets in their faces, or aggressively asking about religious beliefs. They were simply praising God and singing, doing their own thing. They were basking in the joy that comes from knowing God’s greater plan was at work whether they were inside or outside the prison walls. 

What I love about this story, and why it gives me so much hope for my shy, terrified-to-share self is that while the seeds of faith were planted by faithful humans just doing their part, God orchestrated the larger circumstance of the earthquake to bring those seeds of faith to sprout. The point is that direct witness (sitting someone down to recount the gospel) is NOT necessary all the time. And that is okay. Sometimes we are simply called to be ourselves wherever we happen to be.

My faith hasn’t changed since that day back in the coffee shop, but it has matured. It is strong enough to permit me to enter into the hard dark places with people at work. I can no longer sit nearby to hurting people, comfortable in my salvation bubble, while the ones close by are hurting. Nor am I a lion tackling a gazelle, leaving it dazed on its back with a pamphlet in its hand. I’m gently and lovingly being myself, constant, in my daily path. And when circumstances arise, I am there doing my thing, in full belief that His will WILL be done.