A Strategy for Restoring Dignity to Your Work

This blog post is part of a special Labor Day series. Denver Institute uses five guiding principles to shape its work. Today’s topic is the fourth principle, “Seek deep spiritual health.” Embracing Christ’s call to “come follow me,” we value listening to the Holy Spirit, practicing the classical spiritual disciplines, confessing our sins, and submitting to the reign of God. Lean more about our guiding principles >>

Driving to work each day is a ritual familiar to most everyone. About 76 percent of American workers drive to work alone. That leaves plenty of time to think.

I think about my family. I think about my church. I think about my friends. But to be honest, I think mostly about the day’s work – what lies ahead.

Regardless of the intensity of your daily grind, the morning commute might be the toughest stretch of the day. There is something about inching to work in stop-and-go traffic that heightens our sense of foreboding. We grip the wheel harder as we pull up to the office, knuckles white, stomach in knots –  the anxiety about the day has its hold on us before we even clock in.

Praying at the wheel

But there is another option, a way to turn the dread into delight. It’s prayer. While it is unadvisable to bow your head, with eyes closed while doing 66 MPH in the fast lane, I suggest an “attitude of prayer” as an alternative.

Columnist Mark Herringshaw proposes “triggered” prayers based on your commuting route.

He writes, “Along these familiar highways I pass familiar landmarks that repeatedly trigger familiar thoughts. Instead of letting those thoughts happen randomly, I’ve ‘installed’ those places as triggers to remind me to pray about certain things. My car therefore takes me on both practical and spiritual journeys.”

He passes a baseball field and that reminds him to pray for his sons. His journey past City Hall triggers prayers for leaders. He even prays for the other anonymous driver around him.

I’ve tried some of these triggers, and I can already see how it’s changing my attitude.

A wire across 6th Avenue near a busy crossroad is always full of birds, unconcerned with the chaos below. It’s a reminder for me to not be concerned about my paycheck, or what benefits I’m missing out on since “he cares for the birds of the air” (Matthew 6:26).

A pass by the carwash is a reminder for me to thank God for my salvation, for the “cleansing and remission of my sin.”

The donut shop on the right is a reminder to “deliver me from evil.”

I’ve added my boss in my regular prayers, as well as the whole organization based on an established trigger of an outdoor sign that has a vague reference to our company.

Redeeming the time

We are reminded in Scripture that the days are short and that we should redeem our time. That’s good advice to give every square inch, every tick of the clock over to his purpose.

I’m working hard on my work life, to make sure it gives glory to God. So why shouldn’t my commute have the same attention?

I’d be interested to hear in the comments below about your commute.


Featured photo by Jared Tarbell on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.