Bring Your Best to Work

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the needs of people at your workplace? Sometimes our seemingly small contributions and abilities at work seem futile, but God has never had a problem with small. Referencing the biblical story of Jesus’ feeding the 5,000, Tony Bridwell encourages leaders to give God what little they have so that He can do big and incredible things. 

Tony is Partner and Practice Leader for Partners In Leadership, an accountability training and culture changing company, with nearly three decades of executive leadership experience. He is also the author of The Difference Maker: A Simple Fable About making a Difference in the Life of Others and The Kingmaker: A Leadership Story of Integrity and Purpose.  

Bringing your best to work is about two words: loaves and fish. We often feel as if we don’t have the time, resources, and capability to help those who need us at work, but God has a different perspective. 

John 6:1-15 (ESV)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

1After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.2And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.3Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.4Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.11Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.12And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”13So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In John 6 Jesus asks Philip how they’re going to feed the crowd even though he already knew the answer. Andrew walks up with a little boy and says he has five loaves of bread and two fish, “but” it’s not enough to feed the crowds. Tony said that “but” is the secret to how to bring your best to work. The disciples don’t have enough to feed the people, but Jesus was able to multiply the little they had to have food in abundance. 

Can you think of times when you would have liked to contribute more at work, “but” you felt like you didn’t have very much to give? When where those times, and what were the circumstances?
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Tony talks about times when he sees people who have needs, and he feels like he lacks the time, resources, and capability to help them, however much he’d like to. Which of those three—time, resources, or capability—do you feel like you lack the most? Are there other things you lack? If so, what are they?
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Tony says saying a simple prayer, inspired by John 6, changes everything for him: “God, with the gifts and talents and abilities you’ve given me, they don’t seem like much to me. But in your hands they’re everything. Take what I have and use it for your purpose.” Every time he says that prayer he is amazed at what God does in His power. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Are you familiar with the Scripture you just read? In what ways does it remind you of Tony’s prayer?
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Have you ever experienced the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 in your life, specifically at work? Share a time when you felt weak and inadequate, but God showed up and did something powerful in and through you?
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Tony says there’s often no way we can do what needs to be done at our job, but when we submit what little we have to God, He is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine. “There’s nothing that can’t be done with five loaves and two fish in the hands of the One who created all of the universe.” As you think and pray about doing your best at work, take note of what you lack. Consider writing your own prayer of devotion, giving all that you have each day so God can multiply it.