God Can Change Work Into Worship

Mike Chapman and Liz Hartwell

A university professor’s job can be hectic. For Susan*, a follower of Jesus, teaching at a prominent Asian university is even more challenging. Often universities expect professors to get the job done at all costs, in spite of biblical principles. Susan regularly has to choose between submitting to her immediate supervisor and living according to biblical principles.

“We have lots of pressure at work, including our teaching workload and research,” Susan says. “Sometimes it’s not always easy to be nice to the students.” She teaches more than 70 undergraduate students and 60 graduate students, supervises 10 Ph.D. students and trains 15 M.A. students.

“Before I became a believer [in Jesus], I would kind of see students as just my tools because they would enable me to publish more articles, and I could achieve more in research,” says Susan.

Her perspective radically changed after spending a year at an American university as a visiting scholar. While there, she came to faith in Christ and got involved in a local church.

Upon her return to Asia, she realized that God had changed her heart toward her students.

 “After I believed in God, I began to love them,” she says. “I started to see the world from their perspective and tried to identify their needs. I spent more time caring for them. Now, teaching can bring lots of joy to me.”

Through its twice-a-month teachers’ fellowship hosted by a local church, LeaderImpact (a ministry of Cru) has been a huge help to Susan. The fellowship—which can draw as many as 100 teachers—seeks to build them up spiritually so they can better serve students at their universities.

After Susan returned from her time as a visiting scholar, living out her faith proved challenging.“I was spiritually dry, helpless, with no support,” she says. “I needed lots of pastoral care as a new believer.”

The teachers’ fellowship was just what she needed.

Each month, more than 20 teachers meet to study the Bible together, and for training and discussion on issues, like sharing their faith in the workplace or developing global leaders to impact the world.

One of the most helpful truths Susan has learned is to view her work as worship, based on messages given by Pastor Timothy Keller.

“He says that work is worship, and there will be lots of challenges,” Susan says. “So we need to think of God as our biggest boss so we can work full of joy. This concept was very timely to me, and now I am grateful that I can combine work and worship together.”

Susan hopes that through the LeaderImpact teachers’ fellowship, teachers and students’ lives will continue to change for the better. “From now on,” she says, “whatever I do I hope will be for the long-term benefit of my students.”

*Name changed for security reasons

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