The most critical phase of your spiritual formation or apprenticeship to Jesus is work. But that idea is counter-cultural to most religious thought.

What I'm about to try to explain is tricky. It's dangerous even, for some could not only misunderstand but twist it. With those disclaimers, it is important enough to take whatever risk is involved and try to communicate the idea.

Centuries ago somebody sold the false notion that the Christian life is to be understood in terms of two arenas — the sacred and the secular. Sacred places are church buildings. Sacred events are things like worship or baptism or funerals. Sacred people are preachers or church officers.

The balance of life was declared secular. So farms, stores, and schools were secular places. Surgery and manufacturing, accounting and teaching, driving and watching TV — all are secular. And ordinary people doing the routine and humdrum things of shopping, eating, and reading are secular.

Not on your life! Or, more correctly, not on God's plan for your life. And certainly not on Christ's example for your life.

I certainly grant that there is a sense of the sacred and holy in a church setting for worship that is easier to grasp than in a hurly-burly, noisy office. But work is sacred too. It is holy by virtue of divine presence you bring to it as a person filled with God's Spirit and participating in God's creative work.

Typing memos, hiring people, selling widgets, stocking shelves, firing someone who broke company policy again, fielding customer complaints – these and whatever other things you have to do today are not secular. They're not, that is, unless you misunderstand your role in them. You and I are in the world to continue the work of God. Creating. Improving. Empowering. Doing things that we and others look at and say are "good" or even "very good."

Extensions of His presence
My appeal is not that we should become workaholics. Instead, it is that we see ourselves as God sees us: Extensions of his presence into every nook and cranny of the world. If Paul could exhort slaves to carry out their assigned tasks "with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to human masters" (Ephesians 6:5-8), surely some of us could take a more elevated view of our tasks in the workplace.

Work isn't an unspiritual curse from which you should desire freedom in order to visit retreats, seminars, and workshops on "Being Spiritual." It is your lab for turning lead to gold, lemons to lemonade, humdrum to holy by the Spirit-presence you take to life.

Your spiritual life isn't "on hold" while you work today. It's on display.