After graduating high school, including a rigorous released-time seminary program, I was on the spiritual high of my life. I was so sure that I would live the principles of the Church and stand for them no matter the cost. I would magnify my callings, I would read my scriptures every day, and I would never work on Sundays.
But life isn’t always so simple.
When I left for college that summer, I got my first real job doing IT work. I was occasionally required to work on weekends. Including Sundays. But I loved what I did, so I made a prayerful decision to stay.
I had a horrible time of it that first year. I had grown up going to Church every Sunday, and suddenly missing one or two Sundays a month, I felt… bad. I didn’t feel the Spirit as much as I used to. And I felt guilty. I learned from sad experience that you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.
Making room for Christ in your Sunday work day is no substitute for standard Sunday worship, but sometimes our circumstances make it so we simply can’t avoid working on the Sabbath. No matter where we are and what we’re doing, here are a few different things to try (in addition to Sunday scripture study) that worked for me to put a little “sun” back into my “day.”
Don’t miss morning prayer. Before leaving for work, take a moment to pray. Have a family prayer if you can. This is a great way to start off any day of the week but is particularly important on the Sabbath. If you work through the evening, consider calling home for family prayers in the evening as well.
Wear your Sunday best. My workplace allowed us to wear jeans, but on Sundays, dressing a little more nicely helped keep my mind focused on the meaning of the day. It also acted as a reminder to continually try to make this day special, even if I was at work.
Take the sacrament if you can, even if it isn’t with your ward. This was the number one thing I found that helped me. If there’s a church nearby your place of employment, look up the schedule and arrange to take a break and slip out at least for the ordinance of the sacrament. There’s nothing more refreshing than becoming clean by renewing our baptismal covenants with the Lord.
Use your breaks to your advantage. Many employers offer employees who work long shifts brief breaks throughout the day. Use that time wisely to study the scriptures on your phone, review the Gospel Doctrine or Relief Society and Priesthood lesson for the day, sing a hymn, or do some other uplifting activity.
Be a blessing to those around you. Even if you’re at work, give service where you can. Be kind. Make your presence a blessing on those around you. Not only will this make you happier as you serve your fellows, it will also make your workplace environment more conducive to feeling the Spirit.
Focus on the good you're doing. Working on Sundays isn't often glamorous, but if your job function is so critical that you need to work on the Sabbath, chances are, you're doing someone a lot of good. Healthcare professionals can take solace in how they're serving the sick and afflicted. In my case, I helped support vital Church functions other members needed to worship properly. If nothing else, you working that day probably allows someone else to have the day off so they can worship or spend time with family.
Ask someone at church to take notes for you. Another reason missing church made me feel bad was because I was missing out on the community. I didn’t know what we’d discussed last week or I missed important announcements. Check to see if your ward has a weekly email newsletter (most do nowadays), or have a friend or family member take notes and discuss them together to keep you in the loop. This tip also has the added bonus of helping your helper pay attention at church themselves, and the discussion will allow both of you to grow.
Seek other sources of inspiration. Fit in whatever you can wherever you can. Watch a Mormon message. Recite a favorite poem or story from general conference. Even just take a moment to count your blessings. The Lord is always close at hand to those who look for Him.
Visit the temple during the week. If you have to work on Sunday, attending a temple session the week before or after can really help you recapture the Spirit. Again, this isn't to replace regular Sunday church attendance, but to help you boost your spirituality when you might be struggling from having to miss your regular church meetings.
Turn your thoughts to Christ. Above all else, what makes Sundays special is our attitude. We need to constantly be turning our thoughts to Christ. He knows us individually and knows our circumstances, and He knows the intentions of our hearts. Even when they’re required to work on Sundays.
Have you ever had to work on a Sunday? Take the poll below and then share your stories and tips with us in the comments!