Do you speak Christianese? It’s a unique language; with a platitude for everything under the liturgical sun. In fact, there are so many of these triune-turns-of-phrase you might consider removing the hedge of protection around them, if the Lord led. But I digress. Regardless of whether you like to hedge your bets, or prefer to bet on the Lord, there is one Christian word, in particular, that I don’t like to gamble on. Fruit.
Guard your heart, brother. We’re about to go full cornucopia on Christianese.
Christians have fruit for nearly every occasion. Good fruit. Bad fruit. Spoiled fruit, if you’re slipping spiritually (Bad Apostolic Apples). But these labels don’t get us far when it comes to understanding or articulating whether or not we can see the reality of the Holy Spirit transforming us and producing Kingdom Come.
And stumbling blocks aside, we need to get practical about how to apply scripture where it speaks to the notion of producing fruit within our lives. Consider this juicy verse in Galatians:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
Galatians 5:22 NIV
I love the verse. It’s clear.
How do I know whether something looks like God was involved or not? Easy. There should be evidence of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness somewhere in the mix.
But this verse is only clear on the surface. Bare with me, as I explain.
Devotion to Christ must have an output and an outcome. Scripture calls this “fruit” but it means function. After all, if you say you’ve been loving, but can’t point to the action of that love, or the effect that love had on a person, you can’t call it fruit in good conscience, can you?
Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace.
Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace. It is a combination of the Spirit allowing you to exhibit his life, while holding to the reality that no action of goodness can grow without God’s abundant will, willing it so.
So then, if your devotion to Jesus is nothing more than zeal, of passion panting after prayer, then what benefit is your relationship with Christ to the world? It’s an important question.
Think of it this way: if we say that we have the Fruit of The Spirit (and we should), there should be more than simply the spirit of our actions. There should be influence too.
How then, do we know we’re working with God, and that he is present within the labor we do during the day? This is a blog about work, after all.
Here are a few work-worthy examples:
If you say you have the fruit of love, then your capitalism will create more opportunity.
If you say you have the fruit of joy, then you’ll do your work in such a way that it provokes others to excellence and encouragement.
If you say you have the fruit of peace, you won’t panic when markets crash or customers get upset.
If you say you have the fruit of patience, then your business dealings will be long-suffering.
If you say you have the fruit of goodness, then your strategy will multiply merit.
If you say you have the fruit of self-control, then your budgets will be in the black.
If you say you have the fruit of kindness, then your customer service will be world class.
If you say you have the fruit of faithfulness, you’ll stay the course with your KPIs.
Fruit is functional. It’s produced for consumption. It brings life. It brings provision too. Ultimately, it is evidence that intimacy with God exists in a particular part of your life.
Too often, work is a part of life which gets overlooked, spiritually speaking. This vineyard bares little fruit. But ironically, the reason is often because work is so binary to begin with. Or at least we’re told it’s supposed to be that way. Get in. Get Out. Work in. Paycheck out.
But the world revolves around work. For most of us, it takes up at least a third of the day. Sometimes more.
So sadly, most of us take a task-oriented approach to work instead of a fruit-oriented one. We might work hard, but it hardly has any effect on the Kingdom. Which is a shame. But it’s not something you need to be ashamed of. The reality is most Christians don’t know how to balance their faith within the function of what they do. But the good news is, it’s actually a lot simpler then we make it.
Sound too good to be true? Here’s a simple exercise and example to help you efforts be…more…fruitful. ????
Start by listing out a couple of tasks or situations that need the fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps it’s a team project, a presentation which is due, or a deadline you need to meet soon. Task-wise, you likely already know what needs to be done.
So set the “measurables” aside for now.
Instead, take a moment and pray through your list and ask God for wisdom for how he would do the work. Write down what comes to your mind or what God speaks to your spirit. He will show you how to approach the work in such a way that it bares good fruit while still getting the actual work done.
I got this tactic straight from James 1:5, if you’re interested.
To wrap up, here’s a fun story of how I applied the tactic while working on a national project for a Fortune 500:
To set the scene, I was on a new team and my Managing Director was under a lot of pressure from the executive suite. Not only did they need to get a high-pressure job done, but they would also need to prove they could lead the team well too.
As a team, we’d brainstormed and planned this project well, but none of that mattered to upper management. They wanted evidence, in short order, that the team was excelling – particularly because it was such a high-profile client. To make matters worse, they didn’t want a presentation or sit-down-discussion of the details – just an instant access update of how we were performing.
“They’re flying in. They want to see something first thing in the morning.” we learned.
The news made the whole team nervous. How in the world were we supposed to prepare a presentation – especially when they didn’t want to have a normal meeting? To make matters worse, it was the afternoon when we found out about the surprise visit.
But I knew what the Bible says. God is happy to generously give wisdom to whomever will ask, and he’ll give it without any reproach at all. He loves to help out.
So I mediated on what to do.
Instantly, I was given an idea for a strategic surprise.
That evening I decided to make up a presentation that would cover an entire wall of the office. It would be overwhelming in its effect.
So after everyone left for the day, I got started on my divinely assigned project.
I spent hours, without telling anyone, creating a paper-narrative that showed the work we’d done, the ideas we had, and even a draft of deliverables for the project. The effect was unprecedented. Unable to deny.
The next day, I woke up early and got to the office a few hours before I knew anyone would be there. Armed with only stacked chairs for a ladder and large pot of coffee, I worked as quickly as possible to put everything up before my boss came in with the executive team. I almost didn’t finish in time.
But the outcome was priceless.
My boss came into the office with the executives, completely unaware of the night’s work. So when their boss saw the huge presentation for the client, they were extremely impressed, and of course, my manager was able to take credit for leading such a forward-thinking project.
The look on my boss’s face was priceless too. Later on, they told me that they could’ve cried due to the relief and joy they felt at the work that had been done. This was re-emphasized many times by happy exclamations of “I love my team!” throughout the day.
Better yet, was the long-term effect this action had on the company, my boss, the team, and my career.
We ended up getting the client for years which benefited the company. My boss was publicly esteemed by their peers, which built bilateral trust, the team’s morale went up, and I believe this action was one of the many things which led to the various promotions I received while working at that company. The fruit of love, joy, and peace was everywhere. You could point to the places where it occurred.
This is just one example of when the Lord met me in my work and fruit was produced as an outcome. Perhaps what I like most about this story the most, however, is that it yielded the kind of fruit anyone can speak to, not just the Christianese.