Workship – Kara Martin

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

How to Use Your Work to Worship God

Our work, business, or career might actually be something intended by God.

Kara Martin thinks so and she’s written a book about it ‘Workship, how to use your work to worship God’.

In fact, the book was so good, it was shortlisted in the 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year Awards.

Kara had two overriding themes – integrating our Christian faith and work as well as helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations.

To that end Kara drew from her own working experiences saying her first real job was in the fast-paced environment of television reporting.

Work, stress, pressure, swearing

“It was also an environment with a fair amount of stress, pressure, swearing, people often finished the day resorting to alcohol to relieve some of the pressure and stress.”

This was a tough call for a young Christian girl. And the pressures were not restricted to Kara’s on-the-road TV reporting duties.

A wake up call for Kara was the reality of the satirical slogan: ‘Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.’

“There was pressure to lie, to make a story seem more glamorous or more exciting than it was.”

“There was pressure to almost trick people, not let them know you were recording so you would get something really juicy.” Examples of the pressure Kara was subjected to.

Switch off your faith at work?

She then looked for resources that might help her handle these pressures as a Christian. The cupboard for this category was virtually empty.

“My church was much more excited about me doing stories about various church activities than they were for walking alongside me in this pretty tough place.”

“The temptations a lot of Christians feel is to actually almost switch off your faith while you’re at work,” was how Kara described it.

“It seems like such an incompatible place for faith sometimes that it’s easier just to switch off.”

Kara tells the story of one man who goes to church on Sunday and on Monday morning when he gets on the bus to go to work he checks out, he switches off his faith.

“And then, he doesn’t think about God much until the following weekend,” Kara shared, admitting it’s tempting to do that but it comes at a cost.

When you don’t have control

“It’s unhealthy for our faith life but I think we also miss out on a great opportunity in the workplace to actually express our faith in ways that are creative and interesting and for people to find out what we believe in.”

The reality though for a young person in an intense secular, and sometimes hostile environment, is that you’re a newcomer, you’re not the boss and you don’t have control of the culture of your workplace.

The tension between faith principles and doing the job the boss expects is the issue. But Kara believes there are some simple things than can be applied.

“One is to remember that ultimately we are to work for God and not for our human boss – Colossians 3:23 ‘Work as though you’re working for the Lord and not human masters.’ And I think that’s a really helpful principle.”

Kara said when we walk into the workplace we need to be conscious that God is our boss and He’s the one who ultimately directs what we do there.

Have a friend walk alongside you

“We also need to be aware that’s He’s already in the workplace. Sometimes we think we’re the only Christian there or that we’re actually taking Jesus into the workplace,” Kara informed before a reminder that God is everywhere.

So he’s in the workplace with you even if you’re the only Christian.

Another encouraging thing to do is to have a friend walk alongside you when you’re facing these challenges.

“Someone who can pray with you and hold you accountable as well. That’s an incredibly helpful thing,” stressed Kara.

But when it comes to connecting work with worship, the 21st Century is far removed from what it may have looked like in the 1st Century.

‘Work the earth and keep the Garden’

“Somehow through the centuries we’ve broken work from worship. We see them as two very different and separate things.”

“When God made the world He actually worked. But the very first thing God does in terms of humans, is He takes the human and He puts him in the Garden and He tells the human to work the earth and to keep the Garden.”

Kara then unpacked the Hebrew words for garden and keep and said these words are used for serving God in the temple.

“We are to (avad), work / serve God in worship and we’re also told to keep the Commandments. Same word. So those ideas of work and worship were linked right from the beginning,” Kara explained, saying the disconnection came with ‘The Fall’.

“But ultimately we can connect those things together again.”

Be ready to make a stand

Kara now looks upon work much differently. Now when she goes to work she’s using her gifts and her skills.

“I’m using everything that I am to serve and honour God and also to serve others. By doing that we can see our work has an opportunity to become a place of worship in lots of ways.”

But that doesn’t do away with the challenges and it pays to be on guard and ready to make a stand.

“There are the grey areas and then those that are black and white and you need to pray for creativity sometimes,” Kara commented and told of a time when she was working in communications for a large company.

“The marketing guy asked me to plant a story in a newspaper. It was actually a false story. But he wanted me to plant it because the company was negotiating with some overseas people and if we planted the story and they read it, it would help them to bump up the price.”

To Kara this was a black and white issue. In her words, it was completely out and out lying and certainly not something she was comfortable about doing.

We need to ask for time

“I was a junior employee and this was the marketing manager and I asked him to give me some time.”

“that’s what we need to do if we have a situation like that, we need to ask for time so that we can think about it and pray about it.”

So Kara prayed about it and God gave her His instructions for the next day.

The next day she went to the marketing manager’s manager, the general manager of marketing and gave him a pro-forma of the media release.

‘Nothing happened and I kept my job’

“I said, ‘This is what I’ve been asked to do. I feel really uncomfortable about it. I think if we’re found out it will impact on the reputation of the organisation. There’s the outline of the media release, there are the contacts, if you want to do this then you do it but I won’t actually do this for you.’’

What Kara had done was give the general manager the tools but she didn’t become part of it.  The outcome?

“Nothing happened and I kept my job.”

Kara had been given a solution for that situation. Take some time. Pray it through and look for an opportunity to act at a level of integrity.

Footnote

Kara Martin is Project Leader with Seed, MBA Curriculum Developer with Excelsia College, and former Associate Dean of the Marketplace Institute at Ridley College in Melbourne. She has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organisations, and as a consultant. She was Director of the School of Christian Studies for three years and has lectured with the Brisbane School of Theology, Macquarie Christian Studies Institute and Wesley Institute. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, as well as helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is married to David, and they have two amazing adult children: Jaslyn and Guy. She is currently under contract to write a two-volume exploration of Workship: How we can worship God through our work.

To contact Kara for speaking or interview opportunities, please email: workshipau@gmail.com

Or connect via Workship Facebook

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