How I Prayed for the Workplace

“9-9-6” or “Let It Rot”

What is work? In my own life, work includes the domestic duties of caring for and instructing children and bringing order to the home, as well as the more modern task of bringing order to the written word while sitting at a computer. There are many types of work, but most of it involves creation, restoration, or a mixture of both.

In June, China Partnership prayed through the psalms with a specific focus on praying for Chinese in the workplace. In order to pray for Chinese workers, we need to consider the Chinese mentality toward work. How do Chinese Christians believe work relates to the kingdom? How do they struggle? What do they hope the fruits of their labor will be?

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“Since meeting the standards of their culture seems impossible, a frustrated generation has decided to embrace hopelessness, apathy, and watch the world burn.

Several writers of this month’s reflections mentioned how easily the idols of success and busyness rule the heart. In China, many workers struggle in a “9-9-6” work culture, where professionals are expected to man their posts from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week – a 72-hour work week. Pressure and competition is fierce, wages are relatively low, and the only way to survive is to make work the entirety of your life.

In opposition to this, recently young people have advocated tang ping or “lying flat.” This is a call to opt out of the rat race, to lie back and take things easy instead of killing oneself to get ahead. Perhaps more disturbingly, this year disillusioned youth have decided to go even further and bai lan, or “let it rot.”  Since meeting the standards of their culture seems impossible, a frustrated generation has decided to embrace hopelessness, apathy, and watch the world burn.

When I look at my own culture and world, I am struck how we face the same work problems as Chinese, and how our societal response mirrors that of China. At the same time, in the U.S. our population is smaller and there are more potential paths to success, so it seems we are a few years behind China in openly embracing attitudes like tang ping or bai lan.


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A Biblical View of Labor

Christians in both hemispheres can be encouraged, because the biblical attitude toward work does not call us to find our identity in how much we work, or in how much we rebel against a culture of over-work. All of us must pray for grace and look to Jesus for our answers. Nathanael, a young church planter, prayed for Chinese to find rest from their labors in Christ: “Remove our idolatrous worship of material vanity; remove from us the bondage of comfort and ease so the good news of true rest proclaimed in the gospel may be spread. We pray for the blessing and encouragement of those who work diligently, but we also pray they may understand that while it is their duty to be diligent, only in the hands of the Lord are they built up and made whole.”

God does not ask us to find our meaning in our work. At the same time, he also does not ask us to mindlessly pursue meaningless work. It is easy for exhausted workers to question their reasons for pressing on. Ding Baogong reminded us that God allows us to question him and even welcomes our expressions of frustration with the success of the wicked. God, though, gently reminds us that true success is found in knowing him. Ding prayed: “Thank you that, in love, you allow us space to doubt. Thank you that, in love, you meet us there and allow our wandering hearts to return home…. in an upside-down, broken, and unjust world, we need you more than ever. As Psalm 73 says, ‘for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.’”

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“God is teaching them to honestly bring their difficulties to him, to struggle with God in their doubts, and to trust him to make good of their uncertain labors. As we pray for Chinese believers, I myself am also also blessed in my own faith and struggles.

Finally, when we pray for Chinese and their work, we ought to remember that human time on earth is limited. Life is short, and the best use of this fleeting existence is using our days to worship and follow God. Shu Cao, a pastoral intern at a heavily persecuted church, reminded us that even though life can be painful, we do not need to spend them in mourning.  Shu wrote: “Christians today need a correct understanding of faith and life in order to know how to spend their time on earth and not waste their precious years of life. We need not fear the inevitability of death, nor lament life’s shortness. We know we are in the hands of the living God. He is full of love, mercy, grace, and glory. Through his forgiving love, he will purify and establish all that our hands have done.”

There is much to consider as we pray for Chinese Christians struggling to honor and glorify God in their work. God is teaching them to honestly bring their difficulties to him, to struggle with God in their doubts, and to trust him to make good of their uncertain labors. As we pray for Chinese believers, I myself am also also blessed in my own faith and struggles. The God of the ages walked with Moses, accompanies Chinese Christians, and is with me as well. What joy and comfort his good news brings.


E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.  

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese believers to bring all their difficulties and frustrations regarding work to God.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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