Have you ever felt like YOU are the “Director of Everything” and that the weight of the world is on your shoulders? The country Western singer Johnny Paycheck felt that way. He wrote a song, years ago titled, “Take This Job and _______.” (You can fill in the blank yourself!) Sadly, that is the way many people feel about their job, or about their volunteer work… even in the church. Most Americans work 100,000 hours in their lifetime. And some, who start working early in life and who work into their 70’s or 80’s may log over 150,000 or 200,000 hours in a lifetime! The question is, “What does God want us to do with all of these working hours?” The four Biblical principles below give us a key to the way God wants us to view our work:
- Work is a fundamental part of human nature. We were created in the image of a Creator God who gave us dominion over the Earth. Therefore, when we create something, write something, sow something, design or build something, we feel good inside… because we are created in the image of our Creator. Our English word vocation, comes from the Latin “vocare,” which literally means to hear or to listen. Our calling as human beings is to listen to the stirring within our souls and use our God given gifts and instincts to glorify God in our life and in our work. When our creative imagination is unleashed within us and we get new ideas and see new visions…we are most like God…our Creator!
- Get a new boss. Ask yourself the question, “For whom am I working?” Am I working for the corporation, the law firm, the city, the church, or myself…or, am I working for God? The 16th century theologian, and reformer, John Calvin said, “One’s work is an act of worship.” And, biblical expositor, William Barkley said, “The conviction of a Christian worker is that every single piece of work one produces must be good enough to show to God.” Whether we know it or not, we are really working for God in everything that we do, whether for pay, or as a volunteer. So…even if we have a difficult boss or we don’t like some of the things that our boss or the corporation does…remember…we are not working for them anyway…we work for God!
- Get a new job. Although the tasks that Christians do differ according to our gifts, abilities, and talents, all Christians really have the same vocation – serving God by serving others. Our job isn’t simply a means of making money. Rather, we are placed in certain occupations around the world in order to have “a ministry of presence” in a certain environment. The reality is that we won’t find meaning in our work…we must bring meaning to our work! Believing that we are representing God in a certain environment transforms our work from a secular task to an act of worship! This is what John Calvin had in mind. Our job in that environment is to be the salt of the earth and be a seasoning, a preservative and a medicinal agent that will prevent the environment from decay.
- Make a commitment to excellence. Every one of us must ask ourselves each day, “Am I doing the very best job that I can do?” Do I do my best even when the boss isn’t looking? Am I using the gifts, talents, skills, and abilities that God has given me to their fullest potential? The word “excellence” literally means to go beyond. The word excellence means to go beyond mediocrity to what is truly superior. A person who is committed to excellence pays attention to details…that is the difference between something good and something great. The question is, “Do we just do enough to get by?” Or…are we truly committed to be and do our best, because the God of the universe is our real boss!
I love the story of the famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci, who was painting with oil while his admiring students were watching and learning from his technique. When da Vinci was almost finished the painting…he handed his brush to a startled student and said, “Here…you finish it!” The student said, “Oh master, I am not worthy of finishing your work.” da Vinci replied… “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?”
The God of the universe has handed us the paint brush…and calls us to exercise our creativity and continue the glorious work of creation in our work.
So, what will our attitude toward work be?
- So, what will our attitude toward work be?
- Take this job and…shove it? No!
- Take this job and…worship it? No!
- Take this job and…idolize it? No!
I hope our attitude is…Take this job…and DO IT…to the glory of God! May it be so!
- How many hours per day and per week do you spend working?
- Has worry over work ever robbed you of peace of mind or interrupted your sleep?
- Have you ever neglected the essential relationships in your life in order to succeed on your job?
- Are you ever tempted to compromise what you believe in order to gain or keep a job?
- Has your worth as a person ever become intertwined with your job?
- For whom are you working… really?