Our expectations, which are often unrealistic, lead to disappointment and frustration. There are people who are constantly chasing goals and targets—more money, a better job, higher pay and greater satisfaction. Yet others grumble and complain all the time, because they feel their work is unrecognised, unrewarded, unappreciated. How may we avoid such disappointment, frustration and this restless drive?
Simply by surrendering the fruits of action to the Lord. Let us stop chasing after personal satisfaction’ and individual happiness. Let us make our work—all our work—an offering to the divine. Do your best—but leave the rest to God. When you allow yourself to become an instrument of God, you will find that you can actually work better, and achieve greater success, for you are freed from your own personal limitations.
Not your success, not your failure
When you rid yourself of the desire to achieve results, when you are free from anxiety and stress that arises from expectations, you escape the twin perils of egoistic arrogance on one hand, and dejection/depression on the other. If your efforts are crowned with success, it is His doing; if you should face failure, it is His will.
In this way you are really putting into practice the maxim “work is worship”. Your work becomes an act of devotion, and when it is performed in this spirit, work will always be a wonderful, pleasant experience for you.
We read of Jesus that he got into the boat of Simon Peter and made him row out to the middle of the Sea of Galilee and cast his net for fish. Peter hesitated, for he and his mates had spent a frustrating day trying to catch fish in vain. Perhaps they were hungry and tired, and could not wait to get home. Nevertheless, he did as Jesus asked him to do—and the Bible tells us that his boat literally overflowed with the catch, and his mates had to be called in to help with the load, and their boats too were fully laden.
The point is that Peter did not tell Jesus, “Sorry, I don’t want to try again. I’m frustrated enough as it is.” He set aside his disappointment and weariness and did what he was told to do. You do not have to struggle; you do not have to fear and be anxious; you only have to allow yourself to become an instrument of God’s will—and the Divine Plan will be revealed to you and through you.
How, not how much
Work is worship, but taking a break is also vital. So, avoid overwork, for it has been the graveyard of many a noble soul. The overworked man is a burden to himself and a nuisance to others. Do not rush through your daily tasks. Move slowly and quietly from one work to another, pausing again and again, for a brief while, to remember the Lord, to offer a little prayer, before you continue with your work.
It is not the amount of work we do that matters, but the way we do it; it is not what we do, but how we do it. There are many people who toil and drudge and slave, day after day, month after month, year after year—and their work is but a shadow on the wall. It vanishes the moment it is born. True work, abiding work, the work that transforms lives, flows out of the centre within the heart; the centre of harmony and happiness, peace and joy. When you work in this spirit, you will find that you are freed from all care for the morrow, all fear of the future.
What will happen to me tomorrow? Who will feed my family? Who will supply my daily needs? All these thoughts will cease to trouble you—for you know that the Lord will provide. It is His sole responsibility to take care of us and look after all our needs. Convert your work into yagna—an offering—and you are connected to the Lord. But remember, you must offer Him nothing but the best that you are capable of. The light shines in your life when you connect yourself with the Great Light: a new power, a new shakti will course through your veins, and you will find that God never fails you.
Change your outlook
The majority of men have their families to look after, bills to pay and a livelihood to earn. They have to provide for their children’s education, pay taxes and utility bills. In these days of increasing costs, they find it difficult even to procure the bare necessities of life for themselves and for those who depend on them. What are they to do? The essential thing they need is a change of outlook. As it is, many of us place too much dependence on ourselves, our efforts and our endeavours. We keep God out of the picture. Of course, human effort has its place in life. But we need to understand that above all effort is His Will and His Grace. And He is the giver of all that is. So let us learn to work as His agents and He will take care of everything else. We are His children—and when we work to the best of our ability and capability, it will be His responsibility to provide for us and take care of our every need.
Heed the beautiful words of the Holy Gita:
They who worship Me Depending on Me alone,
Thinking of no other—They are My sole responsibility!
Their burdens are My burdens; To them I bring full security!
He who has surrendered himself to God finds the greatest security of life. He need wander no more. All his cares and burdens are borne by the Lord Himself.
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