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On-the-job training: Keep in mind who you’re really working for and you will naturally focus on doing all that you can to please and honour God at work. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.

Dear Salt&Light,

As a mum of three young children, I’ve had to take urgent leave on many occasions because a child is ill or encountered some problems at school. My colleagues and boss have been increasingly upset about this. How can I maintain my professionalism without neglecting my children?

Gina L, 35, compliance officer

It is not easy being a working parent and caring for three young children – it is as though you are being pulled in different directions and from all angles. On the one hand, you want to be a good employee; on the other, you also want to be a good parent.

You are probably wondering: “Is this even possible?”

The answer is yes. God knows what you are going through and He will provide you with the capabilities and the means to face the challenges of life.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13) 

Apostle Paul chose to be content despite being imprisoned and lacking necessities. This allowed him to bring his focus back to God and to make the most of his circumstances. He reminds us that we can choose to be content no matter what our circumstances.

God is concerned about our attitude towards work and the intention of our hearts.

Admittedly, it is difficult to be content when your children are ill or facing a difficult time in school, and your frequent leave of absence from work is negatively affecting how your manager and colleagues view you.

Here are some possible ways to mitigate the situation:

1. Reach out to others for help

Do consider reaching out to one or two trusted colleagues who have been in similar situations as you. It may be awkward at first to ask them for advice or to brainstorm solutions, but they may be able to offer good advice or help you see things in a different perspective.

Similarly, reach out to your spouse, parents, in-laws and other relatives to see if they can offer support. Raising children need not be the task of one person: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

2. Talk to your manager

It may sound daunting, but consider having a one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss how to better handle the situation when it arises again.

An open and honest meeting will help to clear up any misconceptions that he or she may have about you. It will also show your manager that you genuinely want to improve your relationship with him or her.

3. Work as though for God

One question to ask yourself is: “Who am I honouring at my workplace?” As believers, God is our ultimate employer.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

This does not imply that you are to disregard or disrespect your manager. Apostle Paul’s intention behind this verse is that all believers should work and serve as though we are working for and serving God. Our ultimate reward will be provided to us by God.

4. Review your attitude

Believers are to work heartily (Colossians 3:23), from the Greek phrase ek psyches, which means “from the soul”. Paul urges us to be enthusiastic and passionate about our work, regardless of the type of work.

When your work is an act of worship unto God, you will do it with a cheerful spirit, gracious courtesy, pride and diligence.

God does not judge us primarily on the output of our work; He is more concerned about our attitude towards work and the intention of our hearts.

By reframing your perspective to see that you are ultimately working for God, you will want to do your best and go the extra mile for Him. Maintain this perspective by:

  1. Praying before you start your work day. Prayer makes a big difference in setting your mindset for the rest of the day.
  2. Setting daily goals during your commute to work. Keep in mind who you’re really working for and you will naturally focus on doing all that you can to please and honour God at work.

You will discover that, while you are working to please God, you will also eventually win the favour of your manager and colleagues as you are better able to anticipate needs and act on them.

When your work is an act of worship unto God, you will do it with a cheerful spirit, gracious courtesy, pride and diligence.

Trust and believe that God will ultimately reward you for your efforts, both at the workplace and at home, in accordance with His good time and will. May Ephesians 6:6,7 and Colossians 3:17 encourage you.

Ask Salt&Light: Should I leave a job that is making me unhappy?

Ask Salt&Light: How can I be a good testimony when my Christian colleague isn’t?

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About the author

Jenny Toh

Jenny Toh is a Financial Markets Legal Counsel in ING Bank NV at its Singapore office. She has over 20 years experience in the legal arena. She is also a mother of three children. Her passion is to coach and mentor Christians in the marketplace to find purpose and fulfilment without compromising the Christian faith.