Jul 19, 2012

Work Is a Battlefield

My supervisor was messing with me. That was the only conclusion I could draw after speaking to a board member who had been told a bold-faced lie about me.

This was new territory.

I’d never dealt with someone who intentionally manipulated the facts like this supervisor. I couldn’t even understand what he hoped to gain from it. Did he hope to play the board members off the employees? Was he trying to sow trouble and get me fired?

When you know that someone is trying to sabotage your job, negative thoughts and anger are tough to stop. Slander came second-nature. Passive-aggressive responses to my supervisor struck me as the pinnacle of restraint.

After living in the misery of deception and anger for a few weeks, I realized that I was in the midst of spiritual warfare—in an office building. I never thought of spiritual warfare as a natural part of my daily work schedule. Like planning for a meeting or going to lunch, I could now include spiritual warfare in my daily work plans.

I expected spiritual warfare to be a lot more exciting than this.

I imagined stumbling forward in church to receive prayer for healing and deliverance. I thought of God radically healing me from the rejection and turmoil of my past. I never thought that spiritual battles would take place in the tame setting of an office park on the outskirts of town.

When we speak of spiritual warfare, we also tend to focus on battles, not the long term war itself. The difference is significant. I tended to think of spiritual warfare as this dramatic, one-time encounter. Instead, I discovered that spiritual “victory” is only won in my living room each morning and in quiet moments at the office throughout the day as I retreat to pray.

Fighting sin and spiritual forces who want to destroy us is not usually flashy or heroic. It’s a daily grind of patrols, small advances, and training. You don’t win a war by launching one quick strike after another. Soldiers need to train, prepare, and patrol before attacking.

In order to deal with my anger, negativity, and slander, I needed a more balanced, long-term perspective...to prepare for spiritual warfare by integrating the simple spiritual practices of prayer, silently waiting on God, reading scripture, and confessing my sins to others—especially my anger at my supervisor.

Some spiritual struggles are tough enough that a “shock and awe” prayer attack is just the beginning of what needs to happen. Winning at spiritual warfare will bring moments of confrontation and tension, but we’ll win the war through the quiet, steady, simple practices of spirituality that train us for the day of battle.

I wasn’t the perfect employee for my supervisor. Sometimes I failed to love him because I craved revenge.

I used to think that I could win my spiritual battles with a one-time prayer encounter in church. The reality was that I needed to expand my spiritual battle plans into the office, the kitchen, and the living room. I needed to make daily investments in the life of God.

This approach to spiritual warfare did not deliver overnight results. I still struggled to be kind to my supervisor at work some days. However, after a series of small advances, I managed to forgive him and to even pray for him. That wasn’t what I thought spiritual warfare would be like, but in the end, it was the only way to win.

Image by Patricia Hunter. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

Post by Ed Cyzewski, who blogs at In a Mirror Dimly and is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life, Divided We Unite, and the forthcoming Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus (with Derek Cooper in the fall of 2012).

 

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