Resilience at Work

Nick van Ruth
May 10, 2021
To succeed in any challenging workplace you will need resilience. But, what is resilience, how do you develop it. A young worker takes us on a journey where his faith informs his resilience.

Work is tough. I don’t think I need to convince anyone of that. Jago Wynne describes it like a trampoline with constant ups and downs. I've had a really exciting career so far. I was fortunate enough to get a job straight out of Uni at an oil and gas consultancy. I worked for a number of large clients, on some really interesting projects and travelled interstate and to the Cooper Basin. But it wasn't all good. My first major project ended up being 3 times over budget, the project manager was fired midway through the project and the client refused to pay the excess. We therefore had to finish a massive portion of the design, install and commission the system with minimal time spent on it, which for a young graduate still learning, was impossible! 

I was once seconded into a role for which I was under qualified and given a random heap of projects that were all over the place. There was no real handover and no support. Eventually my secondment was cut short due to my performance, but a month later I was called back to work on another project. The next year, we signed up for a mortgage and then I was made redundant and was unemployed for 9 months. 

This is not said to scare anyone off work. Work should not be scary, it should be exciting. It’s said to show that to succeed at work takes resilience. Recently I spent two days training in resilience at my workplace and it was really good! Having resilience involves:

  • being able to respond well to situations 
  • understanding what drives you and what your values are 
  • enjoying life and activities outside of work 
  • being mindful of your feelings and emotions 
  • being aware of your strengths and working on them   

This has been proven to improve long term productivity in the workplace. What I found fascinating was Christians have such an advantage here. Developing resilience to persevere in the difficult and challenging world is a biblical priority. 

Ephesians 6:13 says: 

“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” 

Why do Christians need to be resilient according to Ephesians 6:10 -20? 

  1. To stand up and stand out for Jesus at work. Paul warns us against the work of the devil. I’m not an expert on this, but I observe that people who are heavily engaged at work are slowly pulled away from the faith. It is risky, there are so many pressures, rewards and busyness to distract us and pull us away from God. We need resilience to survive at work but not only that, also to thrive and contend for a good news we are communicating to our colleagues. This is a long process which takes patience and perseverance. But that is what Jesus called his disciples to do before he was taken up to heaven. 
  1. Saturated in the gospel. One thing I learnt at a resilience training workshop is mindfulness. This is the ability to be able to enjoy the moment, not worrying about things done in the past or concern for the future. It is being aware of our feelings and thoughts as they happen and maintaining a bigger picture and holding onto what is true, not just what is apparent or what your stress is telling you. For the believer, that means putting on the armour of God, reminding myself: I am saved! I am righteous! I know the truth! As Christians at work, to gain resilience we need to constantly be reading the bible, meeting with other Christians and thinking about what the good news means. When I was working in the city, I rode my bike in and memorised scripture, reciting it to myself as I rode. It means engaging in worship and singing on Sunday, not thinking about what needs to be done when we get home or what's due at work that week. It’s simply thinking about the words we are singing and praising God for who he is and being caught up with who he is and what he has done. 
  1. Grounded in prayer. Paul uses the image of armour and prayer as the armour bearer! In my resilience training we were told to take time to reflect on our goals and values regularly. Here Paul calls people to pray constantly. What are we to pray for? All things, fellow Christians, gospel work? Prayer not only lifts our eyes to see the bigger picture, but involves God in our work! We all know how foolish it is to speak about our faith without praying, but it's the same at work. We are living as Christ's ambassadors, promoting him and his gospel, and only he is able to give us the resilience to endure and see the hearts of our colleagues transformed. So, it is foolish not to pray about work. I pray in the car when I reach Mount Barker,and meet fortnightly to pray with other colleagues. 

Developing resilience is nothing new, but industries are now finding that resilience is needed for success in any industry. The Bible tells us to stand fast, to develop a resilience to stand up and stand out for Jesus by saturating ourselves in the gospel and grounding ourselves in prayer. As you approach new challenges at work, how will you do this? What habits do you want to establish to grow resilience as Christ's representative at your workplace? 

When you get out of bed tomorrow, put on your armour and stand up and stand out for Jesus! 

Nick van Ruth worked for 5 years as an engineer in petroleum and manufacturing before moving across into workplace ministry, discipling and evangelising young workers. Now he is an Associate Pastor at Hills Baptist Aldgate, discipling and equipping young adults in life, faith and leadership. 

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