Bad day at work? 5 things to keep in mind

by Tan Huey Ying // April 4, 2018, 6:00 am

Andre Hunter/

In life, bad days at work are inevitable. No one is spared.

Difficult people in difficult circumstances, difficult people causing difficult circumstances.

We all know how bad days feel like. It upsets, frustrates and drains us. We leave the office with churning insides.

A Promise, Repeated!

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you … Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:27  

This was Jesus’ promise to His disciples at the Passover, disciples who were having a very bad day after their Rabbi interrupted the meal.

He said: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer … Where I am going, you cannot come.” John 13:33

Say what? Go where? How do we follow? Wait, why did He say we cannot go?

We work alongside fallen men in a world broken by the curse of sin. Step back and believe. God is in control. 

They were disciples, they had to follow! Three years ago, they left everything to follow Him. Today, they faced physical threats to their safety, but they also loved Him dearly. 

But Jesus was leaving?

Imagine their churning hearts – confused, troubled, fearful, upset, disturbed. Bad day.

Jesus’ tender promise holds true: Peace is promised. It is possible to go through bad days without being in a state of unrest – boiling with anger, melting in guilt, or somewhere in between.


1. Re-frame your perspective

To His flustered followers, Jesus said in John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.”

That sounded like a choice.

And it was.

Our beliefs frame our perspective. But we do not see well. It is impossible to see as God sees because we are finite beings, we have biases and presumptions.

We can, however, choose to trust the revealed Truth in the Word. In John 16:33, Jesus declared: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We work alongside fallen men in a world broken by the curse of sin. Step back and believe. God is in control. 

Handle: Sneak a quick peek at the sky – blue, black, grey or even red, let it remind you that your God has overcome the world, take heart!

2. Check your posture

At the core of a bad day at work lies the insidious assumption that we are “good”. Or at least, good enough. Why can’t they be as good as we are? We are good enough. We are doing good work (better than others) … the disciples thought so too.

Peter: “Why can’t I follow you now?” John 13:37 I’m good! I love You, I follow You!

Jesus: “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly … you will disown me three times!” John 13:38


Philip: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” John 14:8 Jesus, show us the Father and we are good to go!

Jesus: “Don’t you know me, Philip … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Oops again.

Comical, unless we realise we over-estimate ourselves too. Without the Holy Spirit, we are equally clueless … not as good as we thought! 

Still, Jesus addresses us tenderly as “My children” John 13:33, and extends His grace and mercy to us through the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to help us and be with us forever. John 14:16

When we acknowledge our innate lack of goodness apart from God, we can have the right posture towards our circumstance.

Handle: Look at your hands. Meaty? Bony? They are flesh. Fallen, corrupt and inadequate, but recipients of grace. A sobering yet comforting reminder.

3. Praise God: Obedience matters

Trusting in God’s Word entails obedience – live it out.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts … and be thankful … Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him.” Colossians 3:15-17

Be thankful. God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22: 3). Praise strengthens our faith as it did for Abraham (Romans 4:20). Plus, as Judah experienced in 2 Chronicles 20, it is an effective weapon against your enemies.

It is amazing what a healthy dose of gratitude to God can do.

Handle: Keep a thank-you-God list handy and accessible – physical or electronic. Anchor your heart in gratitude for God’s goodness. 

4. Re-connect in prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6  

Philip Yancey said: “God is already present in my life and all around me; prayer offers the chance to attend and respond to that presence.” 

Pray when you feel that you have nothing to say – especially when you have nothing to say, God is there in the quietness. 

Handle: Pray a Psalm, any Psalm you want. The psalmists express the full range of human emotions, but they also instruct and shape our minds. 

5. Make preparations: Gear up for tomorrow

“I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit ” John 15:16

Receiving and experiencing the peace of Christ by His grace is just the beginning. There is work to be done. Our current circumstances might protest the truth of God’s wisdom, but He is in control – and He has plans! Fruits that last sometimes come out of “bad” days – in Mason Tan’s case, years, but you need to go and bear those fruit.

Handle: Take a deep breath, power nap or whatever – it is easy to rest in grace, then prepare yourself for the work in the days to come. 

In essence, what makes a day “good” or “bad” is essentially our assessment of it – is the glass half full or half empty? Or, to stretch the example, that empty glass could be waiting to be filled!

Don’t churn anymore.

About the author

Tan Huey Ying

Huey Ying is now an Assignments Editor at Salt&Light, having worked in finance, events management and aquatics industries. She usually has more questions than answers but is always happiest in the water, where she's learning what it means to "be still".