As an entrepreneur, one of the books I return to over and over since I discovered it at the GT Bank library several years ago, is, R.G. LeTourneau: Mover of Men and Mountains. Le Tourneau was a business man and inventor who invented heavy duty construction vehicles and equipment used on land and on the sea, including most of the earth-moving equipments used in World War 2. He was a man completely devoted to God and as a matter of course, his designs and products were considered decades ahead of their time. Like many lay men who love God, Le Tourneau got to a point where he wanted to deepen his relationship with God and his first instinct, like most religious folk was to leave his business and become a “Minister” or “Missionary”. Troubled, he went to his Pastor for advice and prayer, early one morning. His very insightful Pastor said, “You know, Brother LeTourneau, God needs businessmen as well as preachers and missionaries.” Thank God for such Pastors.
Ordinary people who love God often face a “dilemma”, where they feel they have to choose between what they presently do and service to God, as though secular work were “evil” or “ungodly”. We do not only serve God when we are preaching or serving as missionaries. I had to convince myself of this because it is very easy in the name of “service” to consider secular business as less in the sight of God, than “spiritual” business. But before God, there is no secular business. Every business is God’s business. After all, who owns it all? You can serve God as a government worker as well as or even better than serving God as a Pastor. I think God is capable of using an ordinary banker even more than a Pastor who is disconnected from Him. This separation of the “secular” from the “spiritual” tends to create a duality, making the “spiritual” more important and more godly than the “secular”. As a result, we are tempted to live double lives – “spiritual life” and “work life”. How about just having one life that is the same in church, in personal prayer time, at work, at home, at play? I have struggled with this in the sense that while I endeavor to serve God through my work and live just one life, there is a temptation to place less value on “secular” work. In a very subtle way, this tends to keep my work out of my heart, out of the spirit and therefore, “shielded” from God, which would make me less creative and less joyful at work.
It is said in scriptures, that God’s mind is full of human beings, not Himself and not the angels. In other words, human beings are God’s heartbeat. Anything that has to do with human beings therefore, has to do with God’s heart. Even if it is prostitution (yes, they are His creatures and He cares for them), or soccer, or fast food. God is about people and if your work or business intersects with people, then you are in God’s business and you should open it up to Him the same way you would if you were a Priest or a Pastor. Your business, even if it is “evil” is God’s business and if you open it up to Him, His will can be “done on earth as it is in heaven”. Even if your work, your job or business has nothing to do with people, it is still God’s business because you are God’s heartbeat and if the hair on your head concerns Him according to the scriptures, then whatever you do concerns Him. You can serve God washing dishes in a Restaurant or leading a global, multibillion dollar enterprise.
The benefits of this mindset are many and I can’t name them all. But first, doing my work, my job or my business as unto the Lord, opens it up to receive His blessing. For me, the first sign of that is divine inspiration, which R.G. LeTourneau experienced in abundance – even without formal education, he was responsible for hundreds of patents that are of benefit to humankind. A truly divinely inspired idea has the potential to be so sustainable that it transcends my time and can span generations. This is because you are downloading thoughts, which form the basis for actions, not from your own limited mind that sees only here and now but from the mind of the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent whose thoughts are higher than the best you can come up with, “as the heavens are higher than the earth.”
For someone who desires to pursue God, serving God in your “secular” work makes you look forward to the work because it is not about the work but about the One you worship. Can you imagine worshiping God in your work as an accountant or a cleaner? You effectively present your work as an offering to God and that is something to celebrate and look forward to. It would make you look forward to going to work on Monday because work has become worship. It would also likely preclude you from tendency towards impropriety of any sort. You are bringing your work into God’s presence. When I shared this with Ronké, she said most insightfully, “it is the only way to pray without ceasing.” I could not agree more. A whole new world of possibilities emerge when prayer is no longer restricted to prayer time but is expanded to non-prayer times. When your job or your work becomes a praise, a worship and a prayer, then you will experience more intersections of heaven with earth in your behalf, which would be seen as miracles by observers but as the outcome of your relationship with God by you. Ordinary moments become extraordinary moments. Insignificant things become significant. The mundane becomes meaningful, because heaven has intersected with earth and the Almighty’s will is “done on earth as it is in heaven.” Caveat: no one but you and God needs to know that your work is an offering because this is internal. To observers, you are just the best worker or service provider there is although you should be ready to share your secret with those who are interested in digging deeper.
Can you imagine being truly joyful all day even on a job you do not like? If you do something you do not like for someone you love, your dislike for the deed becomes overshadowed by your love for the person for whom the deed is done. When you do your secular work as unto the Lord, your love for Him overshadows your dislike for the job and you may discover there was nothing wrong with the job after all, just something amiss, motive-wise. Joy is one of the instant benefits of God’s presence and if you carry God’s presence into your job, you cannot but be joyful on the job. Ronké and I work for the same company and in the same office and we are in the habit of dancing in the midst of very busy days, to an internal music we are both attuned to. Yes I know we are both somewhat peculiar but we dance from joy and I do not see anything wrong with breaking into a dance at short notice, in a situation as “serious” as business. We have not tried it with our staffs yet but they will not be surprised to find us in a dance. At home, we habitually dance too and even our 3-year old is catching on. The benefit of this is that dance is an interruption, an anomaly, a “surprising juxtaposition” with serious situations, which loosens the seriousness of the situation. It opens it up to the spiritual, the eternal, to joy unspeakable, to inspiration. Dance should not be limited to “happy situations” after work and God should not be limited to “spiritual” matters. This makes life whole, rather than compartmentalized and therefore stressful.
Do not impoverish yourself by limiting your happiness to Sundays or Holy days or after hours. I like to be full of joy Monday to Fridays too because God is to be worshiped during the week too, not just in quiet, private moments but even in noisy, unspiritual work environments. Why should dance be limited to non-work moments? Why should I postpone joy? Why should I only connect with God in “spiritual” situations? If I spend more time at work than at church, work had better become more spiritual, a time to serve, worship, praise and talk to God. Your business is God’s business, your work is God’s work and your job is God’s job, if He created you and owns you. Your primary assignment is your ministry and it is ungodly to do it half-heartedly while doing “God’s work” excitedly. One of the reasons I chose to be an entrepreneur is that I observed that many people are happier outside work – when volunteering or playing or worshiping. I wanted to bring the qualities that make those times rewarding and full of life, into the work place, so that I and others can be totally alive, totally human, totally spirit while at work. You do not have to leave your work to “serve God.” It is your service and if it is not, this is a free world. You do not have to leave your work to experience joy. You can experience joy at work. You can be as joyful, devoted and connected to God in your seemingly “unspiritual” work as you are in more spiritual activities like praise, prayer and meditation. Enjoy your work and worship God through it from now onwards. It is sweet and it is holy.
By the way, there is no copyright on the dance thing and you do not need dance school to do it. Feel free to copy. Also, check out my relatively new Provocations page. That page and this whole blog are the beginnings of what will eventually become books because I do not think I do justice to the subjects I blog about in a single blog post, because of the ever flowing inspiration of the Almighty, because Ronké thinks I would write books even better than I blog and also because I am inspired by Lara Daniels, a talented writer of African Romance who, together with her husband, is a regular reader of my writings. While I do not know everyone who reads what I write, I want to say thank you for participating in this dance (at times I think all of life is a dance), for being an inspiration, for being an encouragement, for reading this far, even though you do not have to. It means a lot to me.