At Work

Living Out the Lord’s Prayer at Work

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Why don’t people say “TGIM?” TGIF (Thank Goodness it’s Friday!) is a popular exclamation for those longing for the end of a workweek and “real life” to begin.

When I tell people how excited I am for Monday—TGIM—I get responses suggesting I am clearly odd. I get it. Many people do not enjoy their jobs. Even folks who own businesses often feel like slaves to their companies.

What if work was not only sacred (matters to God) but also the very setting to change the world? What if Monday was D-Day, the launching point of a campaign to experience and witness the very Kingdom of God?

While delivering the most radical campaign speech in the history of human leadership (the “Sermon on the Mount”), the apprentices of Jesus asked their rabbi how they should pray. Jesus had been announcing that a new “kingdom” was beginning and inviting folks to experience it. In modern language, it was the introduction of the “Jesus administration.” Jesus responded with words millions of Americans can recite as part of our post-Christian social conscience:

Our Father in Heaven,

Holy is Your name!

Thy Kingdom (the Jesus administration) come,

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in Heaven.

When Jesus instructed this model prayer, what exactly was he suggesting? For people to live for the weekend and then think about harps and clouds? If the life of Jesus or his disciples is any indication, evidence would suggest that the thrust of this prayer is something entirely more radical and domestic. Something is to come, to be done, “on earth,” which would seem to include where we go to work. Right here and now.

What does it mean for the “Jesus administration” to intersect the American marketplace? What would it look like to pray and live “Thy Kingdom come—at work?” Certainly, we are called to gather in and serve via local churches, but Sundays are like the locker-room huddle, whereas the workweek is where we get in the game.

Of the 132 biblical stories of Jesus, 122 happened in the marketplace. A vast majority of his teaching, healing, disciple-making and engagement of society happened during business hours on business days in places where people least expected to encounter God. Of the 40 miraculous events recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, 39 occurred outside of any religious setting. Life-changing ministry intersecting common people in common places is biblically normative and was the context of the greatest social revolution in the history of mankind.

What would it mean for followers of Jesus in the marketplace to embrace the invitation of the Lord’s Prayer in business? The same year that the “balanced scorecard” entered the American lexicon (1992), the leaders gathered around C12 Group roundtables began working out a paradigm for an eternally balanced scorecard ultimately called the Five-Point Alignment Matrix. It frames the question, “What would be impacted by praying ‘Thy Kingdom come—at work?’” Everything.

The policies of the Jesus administration affect hiring, employee benefits, product and process quality, leadership, accountability, contracting, disputes and corporate citizenship. What if a business was not merely an economic engine called to a minimalistic ethic of “do no harm,” but a sacred platform poised for significant impact on society? What if truly great businesses are intended for a greater purpose via the wild invitation of the Lord’s Prayer?

In nearly 25 years of serving marketplace leaders, we have found the answers to be things like:

  • A view of all people as created in the image of God and treated as such.
  • Strategic planning shaped by biblical principles.
  • Cultures reshaped by the Jesus administration’s values and servant leadership.
  • Unprecedented generosity. (Last year, the 1,200 member companies of the C12 Group unleashed an estimated $250 million in ministry giving.)
  • Cultures so healthy that turnover declines, performance increases and companies flourish at all levels.

The results have been incredible: tens of thousands of people coming to know Jesus through workplace encounters, God glorified by companies that reflect the Jesus administration, businesses outperforming peers and achieving all of the accolades of the marketplace for financial and culture achievements, and transformed lives.

You can read books, join peer groups, seek counsel and consume massive resources on the implication of faith-fueled work. On Monday, however, will you dare to recite the Lord’s Prayer at your workplace, in the business God has destined you to steward for him?

Saying and believing those simple words will change what you do, how you do and why you do everything. Living out the policies of the Jesus administration will transform you, your department and the company, and can literally change the world. Less than 40 percent of Americans attend a local church, but 90 percent will go to work on Monday. If you will really pray “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done — here” at your workplace, and then live it out, you might find yourself saying TGIM just like I do. Those who work with you will, too.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in a special report by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and The Washington Times entitled, Faith at Work: Individual Purpose, Flourishing Communities. Reprinted with permission. 

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