Note: According to the American Institute of Stress, work-related agitation is the major source of stress for American adults (although it is certainly not a uniquely American problem). In addition to common stressors like coworker issues and workload, many of us struggle with the stress of having to fulfill a less-than-satisfying work role in order to live more or less check-to-check. We sometimes feel like we lose our identities, our spirituality, and our dreams in order to serve the mundane reality that work promotes. It is the author’s hope that this message helps the stressed worker find spiritual peace and the energy to pursue a more fulfilling future. Please share this meditation with anyone you know who is fatigued from the workplace or struggling professionally.
Stephen King & The First Commandment
"AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE FOR THE WORKDAY"
Copyright 2015 Michael Priebe
Stephen King has sold over 350 million books, and he wrote the short story that spawned The Shawshank Redemption. He used to get otherworldy wasted in order to write. Photo tasteofcinema.com
“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” Isaiah 42:8 NIV
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 NIV
In his book On Writing, author Stephen King talks about the dangers of making a god out of a career. In the early 1980s, King purchased a massive oak desk and put it in the center of his home study. For six years, he says, he sat behind that desk drunk and drugged out of his mind, furiously pouring all of his heart and energy into the craft of writing.
Years later, after getting sober, King got rid of his “T. rex desk,” and he bought a handcrafted one half its size, which he keeps in the corner of his office. “Put your desk in the corner,” he writes. “And every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
A wise man will recognize that life isn’t a support system for any professional pursuit. How many of us have found ourselves huddled in the seclusion of career worries or aspirations? How many of us have gone through periods of putting work before all else? Such a narrow focus doesn’t always manifest its demons in addiction like it seems to have done for Stephen King, but it can change personalities nevertheless.
Have you ever allowed a negative work environment to take an unholy influence over your personality? Has your job ever transformed your heart or soul into things that are calloused or angry? Have you ever come home and started yelling or slamming doors? Have you ever shut yourself off from the world because you thought no one else could understand the pressures of your job?
Or maybe you’ve neglected a spiritual life to focus on work or found yourself piecing together a narrow-minded spiritual life that ends up thinking only in professional terms. Have you ever found your entire prayer life revolving around things such as raises, performance reviews, and career changes?
Spiritual life isn’t a support system for career endeavors, it’s the other way around. The things we do for money should be ways of living out our spirituality by showing the rest of the world a Jesus attitude that focuses on love. Even if your job has seemingly little to do with spirituality, there is always an opportunity to color your workdays with compassion that speaks of God.
Humanity is much larger than the business world, and our professional concerns are relatively tiny specs in this existence. We need to keep such perspective at the heart of each day, and this is only possible by keeping the true focus of our lives on God and on our relationship with Him.
Work is an undeniable and important part of our lives, but it is nevertheless just a small part. Some people justify all manner of sin and suffering for the cause of art or other ambitions, and that’s when life can get truly baffling. When we forget God’s first commandment and allow something to take His place as the focus of our lives, things can quickly get dark and confusing.
Today, even as you move through the workday, put your job and professional ambitions in the corner of your attention. Give God his place in the center of your heart, and your life will always make more sense.