I have been repeatedly reminded in these past few weeks that
nothing on earth is going to stay the same or remain forever. To that end, I
have also been reminded that one day I will pass from life on this earth, to
life in eternity with God. I have sensed
in my heart that God has been whispering to me over and over again, “Patricia,
you don’t have much time left.” The
following is the message I believe God is relaying to my heart, and also, I
believe, God’s message to all of us, to live life so that we will die well:
I know no one wants to ponder their death. It all seems so depressing and
final—but it doesn’t have to be. Dying
well, to me, does not mean having all the toys and grandeurs of this world. One
can have that, and still not die well.
Dying well does not just mean being popular and having everyone love
you. To me, dying well means to have
lived knowing you have fulfilled your purpose and that God will say to you when
you come before Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So, how does one fulfill his or her purpose? Well, first one
needs to find out what it is! I believe
that my overarching purpose can be surmised in the Westminster Shorter
Catechism, where it says, “The [purpose] of man is to glorify God and to enjoy
Him forever.” If you are a follower of Christ, that should be your purpose
However, I think God gives us different assignments, if you
will, to help us fulfill that purpose, through both our circumstances and the
people He puts in our path. For
instance, despite the stresses that my day job brings, I believe He has and
continues to use that job as a calling for me to minister to broken and hurting
people around me and to strengthen my character. In this job, I am learning, not only some
marketable skills in my job, but also how to be more patient, kind, caring and
at peace with life. I have learned that
anxiety gets me nowhere, but trusting God does.
When I cooperate with God in these lessons, I am much better able to
fulfill His purposes for me. When it is
my time to depart this world, if I persevere in this and all other assignments
He gives me to fulfill His purposes, then I would die well.
Another example is my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott. She
became a Christian a few years before her death in April 1999, and God used
people in her school, her church, and her job to strengthen and build her
character and to be a dynamic example for those around her that would be
recounted long after she had departed this earth. Although Rachel died what many consider a
tragic death, I think she died well, not because thousands of people came to
her funeral, but because of the positive impact she had and continues to have
in millions of people’s lives today because of how she had lived her life and
fulfilled her God-given purpose.
I believe to truly die well, we must die to self. In fact,
in Luke 9:23-24 (KJV), Jesus says, “ If any man should come after me, he must
deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose
it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Jesus is saying that in order to live, and,
ultimately, die well, we have to be willing to give up our selfish desires,
ambitions and hopes for the benefit of others.
I can attest to this fact in my own life. When I am thinking selfishly,
I often find that I don’t get what I wanted anyway, and my life unravels before
me. Not only that, people often lose respect for me, and I become an angry,
resentful and bitter mess. However, when I humble myself and submit my desires
and ambitions to God, I find that I am more at peace, no matter what my
circumstances are, and things often go a lot more smoothly. I also find the same is true for those around
me. Those around me who complain the
most are often, and not just coincidentally, the same people who have not
submitted their selfish desires and ambitions to God! What a miserable way, not only to live, but
to die! Many people think that when we die to self, we will live a miserable
life and never get to do what we want to do. I won’t lie; sometimes I am
tempted to believe this very lie!
However, in reality, the opposite is most often true. When we are willing to sacrifice for others,
we become more fulfilled in our God-given purpose and are more likely to be
content with our lives, rather if we just lived for ourselves and our desires.
Another part of dying to self is being willing to serve
others. Helping others not only encourages us to keep the focus off ourselves,
it also makes us more content and fulfilled with our lives, because we sense we
are making a positive contribution to this world. For instance, when I work to
focus on making the customers satisfied and happy with our products and
service, I find I feel much more confident and willing to serve them, rather
than if I am focused on just checking something off my list. Dying well, means
having died knowing that you served others the best you could, and were not
just out for yourself.
In order to truly die well, I believe we must strive daily to
fulfill our God-given purpose for this life, deny ourselves, and be willing to
live to serve God and others with a whole heart. As God has said in my heart, repeatedly, “You
don’t have much time left.” Yes, we
don’t have as much time left as we may perceive in our minds, but we can use
what is left to make sure we die well, and full of purpose.
(August 2019, as of this writing) has been a busy and stressful month, but I am
grateful for all God has done in my life during this time. Right now, we are in the process of
remodeling our countertops, since ours was outdated. We had waited for a month
to get it done. During that time, my family and I were tempted to question if
it would ever get done. We had to take out the kitchen sink, so we had to walk
to the laundry room sink to cook or even wash our hands. Everything in the drawers and cabinets also
had to be taken out.
Right now, I hear the workers coming in and out of our house
to set the VERY heavy countertops in our kitchen. Thankfully, the weather is nice, and not
excessively hot or cool, so opening the door outside is not a problem. Also,
the workers would not get too exhausted, since it is not excessively humid or
Not only in the matter of the countertops, but also in other
areas of my life, God has been working to show me that He is always good, even
when we, or our circumstances, are not.
I learned that:
God puts trials in our lives to grow us.
God always provides for our needs.
God always works things out for the good of
those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
First of all, God puts trials in our lives to grow us. I will be one of the first to admit; I have
an aversion to trials, mostly because of anxiety and fear that things may turn
out disastrous once I’m in the trial.
However, thinking about some of the trials that I have been in
throughout my life, even this month, I have seen that most of them have helped
me grow in my character and trust of God.
For instance, this week I worked at another location than the place I
normally work. Because I have a tendency
to get lost in place where I’m not familiar, I had someone drive me. However,
their car overheated on the way there.
Immediately in our minds, we were understandably (my co-worker more than
me) stressed out and I even was thinking that I may not be able to get to the
location at all! However, I tried to stay calm, while my co-worker asked for
help. Eventually, we were able to get to
the location we were supposed to be working at after that. Moreover, God provided someone else to drive
me back to my regular workplace safely, and a friend to take my coworker to get
his car towed and repaired. Through this
little trial, God taught me to trust Him to provide for me, and that I didn’t have
to panic or get anxious during a trial.
Sometimes, I have even found that God allows trials in our lives to
prepare us for the future. For instance, the experience with not having a
kitchen sink for a month, and even working in another location, may be
preparing me for something in my future or even to grow more versatile
Second of all, I learned that God always provides for our
needs. Even when we didn’t have a kitchen sink, God provided the laundry room
sink so that we could wash our dishes, our hands, and cook (to get the
water). When I worked in the other
location, I learned to be grateful that I am working where I am at now, and not
to gripe about it, even if others around me may be. I learned that where I’m working at now is
really a decent place to work and is the right place for my personality, my
giftedness, and the season of life I’m in right now, despite people around me
quitting or encouraging me to quit. When
God provided a job for me at my current workplace location (On how I got my
current job, click here.), He knew what He was doing, and His plan was good and
perfect for me!
Finally, God always works things out for the good of those
who love Him. Last week, I was a little
bit concerned about having to work the whole department by myself this past
Monday and Tuesday. God knew I would be
overwhelmed if I had to work those days in my normal location. So, an hour after
I was clocked in on Monday and started doing freight, one of my managers asked,
“Patricia, would you like to work at [name of other location]?
I said, “ I can’t drive far distances in locations I am not
familiar with. First of all, I don’t
have GPS. I also get lost really easily when I have to drive to places where
I’m not familiar with, but if there is someone that could drive me there and
back, I could.”
My manager replied, “if [name of a co-worker] is willing to
drive you, would you come?”
I replied, “Sure.”
So, I ended up working at the other location on Monday. After I came back to my normal workplace
location, one of my higher up managers wanted me to work at that same location
I was in Monday, and I agreed. My
anxiety over having to work the entire area by myself on Monday, and especially
Tuesday, melted away, because I didn’t really have to work the department at
all! Moreover, there were not too many
customers those days, so the area wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I
came back to work in my regular location on Wednesday with my co-worker Todd*.
This sure has been a busy and hectic week, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because God has taught me so much. Though I knew intellectually that God is good, now I can see God’s hand and His goodness more clearly in my life. May you see the goodness of God in your life as well!
*=name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual mentioned.
Recently, I have seen or witnessed more than my fair share
of what happens when compassion is lacking or absent in the workplace. I saw a
video of a person vandalizing company property because they had been bullied so
much there. Now, there is even training in many companies of how to survive a
workplace shooting! What has this world come to? And how can we do our part to
make sure each associate and client in the workplace is treated with dignity
One of the ways we can do this is by showing compassion to others. According to Merriam- Webster.com, compassion can be defined as “ sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress to alleviate it.” (“Definition of Compassion, Merriam-Webster). In other words, compassion is having a heart to help and heal others through their pain and struggles.
Why we should show compassion:
The primary reason for us to show compassion is because
Christ did. In Matt 9:36, when he was preaching in the cities to crowds, He
“was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered
abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” In Matt 15:32, Jesus said to His
disciples, “ I have compassion on the multitude,because they continue with me
now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting,
lest they faint in the way.” In each instance, Jesus wanted to provide for
them, either or both physical or spiritual nourishment. Compassion is different
from pity in that compassion strives for action, while pity is more passive and
often takes a hint of condescension.
We should also show compassion for the sake of our humanity.
When we regularly and intentionally show compassion to others, we become more
caring, and thus, more human. Some people reason if they stop caring about
others, they won’t get hurt. While that may have some truth to it, being
completely apathetic breeds monsters. The results are people murdering and/ or
abusing others “for fun” or just to suit some sadistic fantasy. These people are so callous, they no longer
have the capacity to truly care about anyone outside themselves.
Furthermore, we should show compassion for others to help
save lives or at least avert violence in the workplace. In the example of a
person being bullied by colleagues and even managers, what if instead they
tried to ascribe dignity and compassion to them? What if instead of
participating in workplace gossip, we focused instead on thanking those who
work hard for us everyday? If someone is clearly distraught or upset, instead
of ignoring or ridiculing them, we should try to comfort and be encouraging to
them. When we do this for the people who
work with us, or for our clients, we can sometimes save their lives. Maybe if
more people showed compassion, less troubled people would be tempted to wreak
havoc at our jobs. Instead, they would have more motivation to do something
positive with their lives because they know someone cares.
Last, but not least, compassion breeds productivity. For
example, one of my now-former managers, *Elizabeth, knew I was very stressed
one day, and instead of punishing me or getting upset at me, reiterated the
qualities she admired in me, and encouraged me to not give up. Also, Elizabeth
also allowed me to learn many things under her direction and didn’t give up on
me when I didn’t get it right the first time. Her compassion for me when I was
stressed and when no one else believed in me is a big part of what kept me
going during tough times in our store.
Now when I’m stressed and remember what Elizabeth said to me, I feel
much more motivated to persevere through the stress.
Ways to Demonstrate Compassion:
Some of the ways we should demonstrate compassion are:
To encourage others who are going through a tough time.– When someone looks stressed or upset, be there to comfort and encourage them. For instance, if a co-worker is going through a divorce with their soon-to-be ex spouse, tell them they are not alone and help them through that with whatever you can.
To pray for others.– Another way we can demonstrate compassion at work is to be willing to pray for others if they tell you of a need or concern and are open to prayer. Many people see our willingness to care enough to put their needs and concerns before the Lord as a refreshing and positive thing.
To serve others.– I have had several coworkers who have struggled with physical health issues, so I have offered to help them with some of their tasks. This allows them to be more relaxed and thus heal faster, then if they had to work at the same frantic pace that may be expected of them when they are 100%. Another way one can help is to pick up some of their shifts if they anticipate not being able to work at all.
To appreciate others’ good work– When you see someone doing a good job or if someone does something to help you, thank them. Write a note of encouragement and appreciation to the colleagues that have helped you the most, and the managers that do above and beyond what is expected of them.
As you can see, compassion goes a long way to improving morale and general workplace conditions. When we show compassion and care, we learn to be more Christlike; we avoid becoming callous monsters, we can help save lives, and help increase productivity, and thus profit for our company.
I believe that most of our problems in relationships stem from an “I-deserve-better” attitude. This past Friday (at the time of this writing), a disgruntled former employee opened fire and killed five of his co-workers at a manufacturing facility, about a half hour from where I live. I attest one of the reasons why he got so angry was because he thought he truly deserved the job, and when his bosses fired him, everything in this former worker unraveled before him. Though most of us would not murder when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we can still get tempted to get similarly angry when our “rights are being violated” or we think we aren’t “getting the good we deserve in this life.” This causes us, me included, unfortunately, to become defensive and angry at those around us…and even at God. However, a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you are a follower of Christ, is, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a) and that we don’t really deserve anything! When we have a mindset that everything good in this life is undeserved and is a gift of grace from above, this entitlement attitude starts to disappear. However, in the society we live in, especially if you live in a Western country, this entitlement attitude is deeply ingrained in us, me included, that I think we need to learn how to embrace the “gift” mentality instead. Here are some things that I have learned about why we should strive to treat whoever and whatever comes our way as gifts, not as something “owed” to us.
When we think we are entitled to someone or something, we
are not acknowledging that God really owns it all. However, when we acknowledge that everything
we get is a gift from God, we are recognizing His control and His power over
our lives—an important aspect of true worship. My pastor said today that we
must be willing to be a living sacrifice in order to truly worship God, and
part of being a sacrifice is relinquishing our rights to His control. If you work, even the money we “earn” from
your job is a gift because it is God who gave you the abilities and skills to
do your job well enough to be able to sustain employment and thus a paycheck! I
wonder if the recent shooting on Friday could have been avoided if, when the
man who shot five people at his job got fired, instead of getting angry at this
perceived injustice, he just appreciated the money he had already gotten from
his job and just appreciated the gifts he still had in his life more.
When we see everything we have as a gift, and not something
that someone “owes” us, we become more able to be content with life, even with
its caveats and imperfections. Think
about how it feels when you get a gift that you totally do not expect or
deserve. Not only are you most likely to
feel intense joy, but also, more likely, an overwhelming sense of gratitude and
humility towards the person who gave you the gift. When we strive to approach our lives the same
way, each blessing we get will cause us to feel joy and gratitude. However, when we think we are owed something
or that we “earned” something, we are not as grateful because whatever we get
is our due, anyway, or so we believe. This is why most of us get upset when we
don’t feel we are getting what we perceive is owed us. We see it as an
injustice, a violation of our moral rights.
However, if we take away the “scoreboard” in our souls of things supposedly owed us,
this anger has no longer has any place to reside, and will melt away.
When we see everyone and everything that is given to us as a
gift, we tend to value them more. For
instance, if my friend gives me something that I perceive is from his or her
heart and that is not owed me, I tend to want to take better care of it, so
that I don’t lose the preciousness of the gift.
This not only applies to material gifts, it also applies to treating
each person as a gift from above. When
we treat each person as a gift from above, instead of someone or something
disposable or suited only to meet our needs, we tend to treat them better. I have witnessed and heard in many different
workplaces, unfortunately, of people being treated like disposable objects, or
at best, tools, if you will, instead of the precious, complex image-bearers of
God they are. This mentality seems to be
growing worse and more prevalent, not only in workplaces, but also in other
social constructs as well. However, when
we go against the grain and strive to treat each person we encounter as the precious
gifts they are, we can not only touch lives, we can change the world around us
for the better.
When we acknowledge everything we get is a gift, not
something we are owed, we are most ready to worship God rightly; we are more
likely to be content and grateful with our lives, and we will value those
around us more. This week God has been
teaching me over and over again that everything I get from Him is a gift, and
not something I could really deserve or earn.
When I realize all that has been given to me, I realize that I am
blessed beyond measure by a God who gives me more than I could ever deserve.
Have you been tired, stressed, and overworked lately? Has
the joy you once had at work been drained by the people and circumstances
around you? If so, you are not alone. In
fact, according to the NIOSH report, about 40% of all workers in the U.S
reported that their jobs are “very or extremely” stressful. (source: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB99101). If you are working in a tough or a stressful
work environment, there is hope. Personally, I can relate to being stressed at
work, but when I apply these principles to how I approach my job, I find that I
become less stressed.
a good work ethic. –Yes, there have been several times during the whole of
my work career in various places where I have been tempted to quit. However,
something inside of me, probably the Spirit of God, urges me on. This has helped me continue to persevere in spite
of everything else inside of me screaming to “QUIT” or “Slack off.” Always do your best, and never let anyone
else convince you to do otherwise. If
you feel aimless or that you are just “going through the motions” at work, try
to have a mindset of trying to learn everything you can to boost your
credentials at work. This will also help you in case of layoffs, to be more
indispensable and more likely to be secure in your job, or being more easily
able to find another good job if that should happen. For instance, at my job, I
have aimed to learn how to cashier, because I know that cashiering is an
essential part of retail, and without these skills, I would be less likely to
be able to move up or be versatile in the company I work for. Now, my managers are able to use me to
cashier in case the regular cashiers call in sick or we are shorthanded.
others.—I have found that many people in various workplaces and in places
where some of my friends work are in desperate need of encouragement and validation. If you see someone going above or beyond, or
are providing their clientele with excellent service, let a manager know that.
More importantly, let the person know that they are doing a good job and that
you value them. Be specific in your compliments. Don’t just say, “ You work
very hard,” which can be good, but would mean more if you said something like,
“ Joe, I appreciate how you took care of that customer today, making sure they
had everything they needed, and making them feel valued through your patience and making sure all
their questions were answered.” If you
must criticize, assure the person that you still value them in other ways. Never put down someone just to break their
spirit. It is mean, callous, unnecessary, and ineffective in motivating people
to do their best work.
servant’s heart.—Be willing to help others where needed, without stressing
yourself out. When someone feels
overwhelmed by their work, and you are able to help them, do so. If someone is going through a tough time and
confides in you about it, offer to pray or help them in any way you can. When
Jesus washed His disciples feet, He modeled for them—and us—a model we should
all follow. We should not only model
that in church or at home, but also in the workplace. Managers, never be “too
busy” to help and guide your associates.
Associates, be willing to do what your managers says, not only to be
respectful, but also to help them through their struggles and lift a burden off
If we modeled a good work ethic, by persevering and doing
our best, if we encouraged our co-workers, bosses, and clients/customers
instead of putting them down, and if we had a servants’ heart approach to the
tasks needed to be done at work, instead of only looking to our own interests,
we could boost morale at our workplace significantly. By following these
principles, not only will we boost morale, but we also will also build our
integrity, which is something worth living for, in all areas of our lives.