Since the end of August 2015 I have held a part-time role at Sainsbury’s. I took this job as a husband & student, in order to help pay the bills.Initially my shift was 4am-8am on Fri, Sat, Sun…4AM!! When term started again in September, I had to get this changed my sleeping pattern would not adjust that frequently to be an effective student. I moved to working, 7am-3pm on Fridays and 7am-12 noon for Sundays. (Our church meet on Sunday afternoons so this worked well, plus it gave my wife and I an opportunity to have a day completely off work together.
The truth is, I have found this job very challenging for several different reasons. Yet because the money has been necessary, I have kept at it. I wanted to share some of my story with it, and some of the lessons God has taught me through my time there. Some of these lessons reveal a lot about my pettiness and weakness, but also how great God is to walk me through them to the other side.
Uniform – as a young person and someone who exercises fairly frequently, I have built a lot of my identity on how I look. Dressing in very baggy trousers and t-shirt, isn’t usually my style, and immediately strips me of this foundation. When I first started it became blindingly clear how much I relied on my appearance for confidence. At work I became quiet and unsociable, even the way I spoke was nervous and insecure. If you saw me on a Monday night leading a Bible study, and then again at work on a Friday afternoon, you’d think “two different people”. The Sainsbury’s uniform revealed to me, whereas before I was blind to it, how much of my identity and confidence was built on appearance. The reason for my different levels of confidence, wasn’t because on Monday I had built my identity on Christ and on Friday it was on appearance. No! Rather the opposite. On Friday I no longer had appearance as a possible foundation, therefore I am forced to turn to Christ.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart – 1 Samuel 16:7
I am by no means on the “other side” with this issue. But God has opened my eyes to this issue.
Glorifying God – one question that I think about a lot, is how does my role here bring any glory to God? In my head, before I worked at Sainsbury’s I believed that whatever work we were called to do, we should seek to glorify God. This was achieved, I had thought, through some very neat and straight forward things: 1) Work hard as though for God, then people will see you good deeds and glorify your Father. 2) Don’t grumble, 3) Submit to authority, 4) Give credit to Jesus when things go well, 5) Don’t be ashamed to talk about Jesus.
So from the beginning, I have worked hard every shift. Not slacking. Not taking longer on my shifts than I’m allowed. When asked to do the “dirty chores” do them without complaining. Be honest about being a Christian, try and explain my faith etc…
But to be honest a lot of the time (if not all) of the time it seems my work goes unnoticed or unrecognized. My submission often gets me taken advantage of. By not slacking and working hard, I miss out on casual conversations (because I haven’t got the tension right between socializing and honoring my employer). I rarely get credit, so there’s not much credit I can pass on to God anyway. (I don’t mean this to sound like a complaint, or to get pity – I REALLY DON’T want it, I say this to explain my dilemma.) Faith conversations rarely come up, and when they do they are usually stunted by my insecurity or desire to be working hard instead of chatting. So, How do I glorify God at work?
Reading Tim Keller’s book: Every Good Endeavor, a couple of months ago, was really helpful with this. I will probably be reading it again soon. Here are a few ways in which I believe my work at Sainsbury’s glorifies God:
- I am being transformed through my experience here, as I hope this post explains, and as I am refined at the workplace, this overflows into other arenas of my life.
- Although I am limited in my interaction with customers, I understand that the shopping I load onto vans will be part of someone else’s lives. In this way by replacing damaged items, rather than ignoring them, I can make a small difference to someone’s week.
- As I get to know my colleagues, even though it is twice a week, I learn about their lives and begin to love them. I can pray for them. I trust that the Spirit is putting words in my mouth, even if their not always “gospel-related” conversations, He cares about them.
There are a few more ways and things that God has taught me, but I realize that this is a long post already. And I have exams I should be revising for. Maybe I will continue this another time.
Lord I am so reluctant and find it difficult to say but THANK YOU for putting me to work in Sainsbury’s. I am grateful that I can trust You to be working all things together for my good and Your Glory -even if I don’t see how. Please continue to tear down the false foundation, however painful, and build my identity upon You my Rock! This is more important. Lord, let me be your light at Sainsbury’s, even if I appear so broken. Amen