Rebecca Reading, a chartered accountant and ChaplaincyPlus trustee, gave a lunchtime talk to a combined group of City Women and City Men on “Reclaiming Mindfulness as God’s Way”. She began with these striking words from a journal article she’d recently read, “As concern about depression, anxiety and stress among workers in the brain-based economy grows, business are starting to see the issue as one to solve not stigmatise.”
In dealing with workplace anxiety, what’s the place of mindfulness? More importantly, what is mindfulness? Rebecca shared this definition: “Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally, to things as they are.” So Rebecca focused on being fully present and engaged in our work place.
Why is being fully present at work important? It’s easy to get anxious and distracted – read the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). But God is present and there is good work for us to do: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
These good works are in the work place! God’s purpose is consistent with our abilities and circumstances – our humanity is all we have to work with. Our colleagues may be starved of genuine interest: being intentionally fully present will make them feel cared for. Just listening could make a big difference to someone’s day, or career! And being good to our colleagues could have a lasting impact.
How can we be more fully present? Rebecca suggested several possibilities:
- We can seek God more, through prayer and Bible reading, allowing God to set aside our worries and anxieties: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Jesus is urging us to be mindful, letting go of our concerns and letting God be in control, acknowledging He is fully in the present moment in our workplace. This takes practice: it’s an ongoing commitment to trust in His promises.
- We can acknowledge distractions and take simple steps to reduce them. How about using Lent to turn off personal emails in work and turn off work emails at home?
- We can practice being rather than doing – being aware, experiencing the present moment non-judgmentally.
Can we take up the challenge to go back to work and give someone our full attention, believing that God is present?
Rebecca walked the talk, being fully present to our ChaplaincyPlus gathering, despite it being her second to last day working in Birmingham, before moving to a new job.
ChaplaincyPlus wants to say a huge thank you to Rebecca for her wholehearted involvement in the network as a speaker, a trustee, a key catalyst in the launch of the City Finance Group and above all as a member of the network living out her Christian vocation in the workplace.