Is Work Devouring Your Spiritual Practice?

Is Work Devouring Your Spiritual Practice?


Stone statue on outdoor roof structure of a 12th century French church of a lion-like creature devouring a human with a beard. Both figures have their mouths open. The name of the church is Saint Pierre et Paul, and it's in Rosheim in the region called Bas-Rhin.

Is work devouring your spiritual practice? The question has been alive since as early as 100 AD when the Gospel of Thomas was written, continuing through the 12th century when this church and its statue of a lion devouring a person were built in the French town of Rosheim, until right now. Image on Wikimedia Commons by Espirat.

Is work devouring your spiritual practice?

Lucky the lion the human eats; the lion becomes human.
Unlucky the human the lion eats; the human becomes lion.
–Gospel of Thomas


I return to these two lines* from the Gospel of Thomas over and over.

I think they are asking us which we want to be more powerful: our work or spiritual practice?


Things I do when work is devouring my spiritual practice


These two lines guide me to allow my work to be “devoured” by my spiritual practice.

How do I do that?

One way is by spending more time in spiritual practice.

And I do that by scheduling it, as you might know if you read posts in this category.


A spiritually even sneakier and more “devouring” thing


A third way is by making everything I experience in my work part of my spiritual practice. 


How do I do that?


First, I decide that it is.

And then I act on my decision by taking every issue that arises for me in work as seriously as the rest of what I consider my spiritual practice.

I devour my work in this way. Work, predictably, disappears.  It becomes spiritual practice.**


What is doing the devouring is nourished by the devoured


Notice: the devoured nourishes the devourer.

That’s why it’s”lucky,” in the Gospel of Thomas quotation above.

It gets to become part of something more important.

So I decide, over and over, as a working spiritual person:

What’s the bigger fish?

Clearly, it’s my spiritual life, into which is placed the nourishment of my work, my vocation–my calling.


*These two lines are my version from translations of the Gospel of Thomas you can find here.

**See also Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God. The letters of a 17th-century monastery cook who unwittingly provides what amounts to spiritual direction we can easily relate to.

I wrote this post inspired by my soul-colleague S., who has a deeply developed spiritual practice and leads a demanding healing organization.

1 Comment
  • beth crittenden
    Posted at 21:23h, 05 November Reply

    It never ever lasts for me when I fall back in to the illusion that work and earning are the bigger fish! Thank heavens I get reminded through whatever means necessary – to come back to what is truly important.

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