“I hate my job. It’s not a calling, it is something that I do and I cannot wait until the day I can retire.” This came from one of the parents during a high school small group discussion many years ago. It gave me pause. I was trying to teach the teens to view their work as a calling. I realized that for this parent work was a dreadful duty.
I was surprised at this comment because the person who gave it worked in a skilled profession. His was not an entry level position. I also viewed them as someone who took their work very seriously. They were a hard worker and supervised many people. I think from their perspective, work was not a calling it was duty, especially if you were not in a workplace that made you feel positive about the work you do.
Looking back, I may have been romanticizing calling. For me, I was doing what I loved (still doing it). I entered vocational ministry because of a strong sense of calling. For the parent who did not like they’re job, work was not enjoyable and the most fulfilling time of their life would come post career. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it may have been their worst week of work ever.
This is conjecture but I also wonder aloud if when a person views work as dreadful duty that it comes from a place that sees all work as a bitter means to a blissful end? In other words, is work a part of God’s created order? Was work to produce income and provide food a result of the Fall of man (Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden)? If the garden was utopic and heaven bliss will there be “no tears in heaven” and no work?
Would this phrase be true? “Life will be great once I don’t have to work and heaven will be great because there won’t be any.” I used to pick at a fellow minister because they were persuading others on the idea that heaven will have tears. I joked aloud, “You’re just saying that for job security because you think that heaven will have need for counselors.” This was part of the work that he did. To him it was meaningful and fulfilling work and I agree. He had a different idea as to what heaven would be like. I think I have a better idea what he was getting at.
What does creation and the goal of creation (heaven/heaven on earth) have to say about the area of my life where I spend the most time?
Working is making.
You are made to make.
God created man and God created work. To work the earth was a pre-Fall activity. The curse of the Fall was not that man would now be required to work but that it would be more difficult because the earth would be at war with itself and with man. The result of this is that man would grow to not appreciate what he was able to produce through work. This may have something to do with why Cain despised his brother able and why his offering was unacceptable. Was it that God did not appreciate what was offered or that Cain did not?
You are made to make and you are made to appreciate your ability to make and what you make. Our work is for the glory of God. Our calling is to glorify God even in our work. This has nothing to do with whether work is secular or holy/spiritual or “Christian.” These are false categories.
Dorothy L. Sayers says,
“The only Christian work is good work well done.” And in terms of work as duty, “The only duty is to serve the work.”
You are made to make and enjoy your making.
View your work as a service to God and community. It is time to redeem work for the glory of God and lean into what God created as good. No matter if it is skilled labor or an entry level position it can all be good for the glory of God. Part of doing work well is to see how our work helps to fulfill the greater needs of the community.
I love my barber. He is not an adherent to a community of Christ followers but he does his work well. I appreciate him for that. He could probably do something else and if he did something else that paid more or gave him more opportunities for his family I would be happy for him. But I am also happy for him right where he is, doing what he does because my community needs good barbers. I love what he makes.
What do you make? Have you ever thought of your work as what you make? Do you think of your work as unto God and for your community? How can you choose to see your work and what you make as a part of God’s created order? How can you begin to see your work as part of blessing your community?
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