Adapted from The Truth Project
The sphere of labor from a Biblical worldview or from a Biblical lens is an incredible social system that God has given to us. The idea of vocation or work so commonly leaves a sour taste in our mouths because we think of work as something we have to do in order to survive. We need the money because we have to live and so we live to work and work to live. We think of exhausting schedules, sometimes irresponsible management, unfair environments and pay structures, and an overall sense of doing something that we have to do versus doing other things that we’d like to do. The necessary evil, if you will.
But in the Biblical narrative, we get a much more integrated and compelling reason for work as well as a perspective that if adhered to and trained in the mind, can ultimately lead to much more satisfying approach and experience of vocation all together.
As in every one of the spheres we’ve talked about already, the idea is to begin by seeking out the model for the original order or the framework for it (labor) that is found in the nature of the trinity, as well as from God’s perspective via the Scriptures. When we then attempt to understand labor or work from God’s perspective, we see firsthand in God’s own rhythm that for 6 days He worked, and then He prescribed a holy day of rest, the seventh day. He did this probably for a variety of reasons, but ultimately His creation order and His rhythm from His own labors and the subsequent command to follow suit (the Fourth Commandment), is simply pointing us back to His divine order and His divine nature.
“…but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; In it you shall not do any work, you, your son, your daughter, your male or female servants or your cattle or your sojourner that stay with you.” Exodus 20:10
God worked and God rested because He knew that it was what we needed. He had to design an order for us to orient our lives around so that the balance would stay pure- work and rest, putting God and family first. By keeping it holy, or by remembering the point of a day of actual rest, it realigns us with God, ourselves, our purpose, and our families. I like to also view it as the only way to proactively protect our mental and physical health from the eventual burnout that we see so often. In the 1960’s when many companies that had previously adhered to the cultural norm that all business were closed on Sundays, many eventually moved into a 7 day work week. Now roughly a half a century later, the results have been glorious because of profit, but disastrous to the personhood of the average American in plenty of visible ways from the breakdown of the family to personal pathologies running rampant when there is no real disconnect from the insatiable demands of our culture and technology.
It’s simple: excessive work leads to depression, anxiety, and sadness, accompanied by this frenzy and inability to never actually unplug and unwind. This was obviously not the original design for human flourishing. What this essentially means is that the proper balance is missing between work + rest. It’s strange too because people will never feel as though they have made enough money, and then conversely, people never seem to feel as though they get enough rest. It is literally crazy! So what gives?
Work for many people is filled with tasks that we don’t always care about and even if those goods or services may produce goods or services themselves that benefit others, many people still find their work to be meaningless. It goes without saying though that what we feel, hear, and see on the regular is that there is an overall negative view of work in our culture. We hear lots of “I have to” statements, implying a removal of the individual’s freedom and choice over their work. The entire goal of the work week, then, is to simply get to Friday.
All of this negative thought and emotion directed at work, to me anyway, begs the question of whether or not we are viewing it correctly, or better yet, how could we reorient our perspectives so that this clearly necessary ‘thing’ that we do is not life-draining, and is instead life-giving. Is our work important? Yes, but for way more important reasons than just paying the bills.
Johannes Gutenberg has been named “The Man of the Millennium.” His life and achievement is listed as the most significant event in this millennium by various scholars. (Although, I would also argue that after 2007 with the invention of the iphone, the world will never be the same in the same exponential way). In 1455 Gutenberg invented the printing press which opened up the door to print more books per year than ever before in history, from 50,000 books to 10 million. Absolutely incredible, right?
God used his work to bring about the spread of the gospel.
“…Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscripts, which confine instead of spread this public treasure. Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give wings to truth in order that she may win every soul that comes into the world by her word, no longer written at vast expense, but multiplied everlastingly by a machine which never wearies.” Gutenberg
He understood what God was doing through him, and yet he is just one example of the incredibly important work that has been done by humans to contribute to human flourishing. When we look at what the creative work of man has been, it is simply amazing. Has the world used these works for evil? Absolutely. But has the Kingdom also been enhanced by what God & man in partnership have done? Yes!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
When we gaze upon His work, we begin to understand what He means.
In the beginning, God created. He was the original worker. Then in the creation of humans, God stamped upon us His divine image. That means that we also are His partners, like Him in creating and offering what we have to the world to benefit the creation itself, and in order to give God the glory. When we create or work in any facet, it gives God glory in that He takes pleasure in our work when we use what He has equipped us with.
When God put Adam and Eve in the Garden and said over mankind that we are to subdue it, work with the raw materials within it, build culture and create whatever we wanted, its as if God put us in a sandbox and said, “You get to make stuff from this! So go do it!”
But this is not the picture we see today. Work today is not such an enticing imagery.
Some say that it was the curse of the fall that created all of negative perspectives surrounding work, in that the Bible makes it clear that work was not originally intended to be so difficult for us. In being a creative work ourselves, God had designed/allowed humankind to work with no restrictions or governing, but in total creativeness and power. Before the fall, it’s as if we were getting in the canoe and floating down stream soaking up the beauty. But after the fall, we still need to go down the stream, but it requires more work to get there, and sometimes we get to glimpse up at the beauty.
The Genesis account just after the fall is that “the ground was cursed,” because of Adam and Eve’s separation from God. The cursing of the ground was not directed at Adam himself, but it means trouble for him. Now his life would be marked by thorns and thistles, sweat, and noxious weeds (figuratively and literally) that the scripture implies would not have been present before the fall. The idea of work hasn’t changed, its still there, it’s just more difficult.
Nonetheless, there is a divine image that has been stamped upon us, and that matters deeply for how we work whether its hard or not. Just as God worked, we work; and just as God rested, we too must rest. In fact, we need to rest, and God has given us a day for rest. The sabbath was made for man and if we don’t actually take the blessing of that day seriously, we self-sabotage.
How important is this sphere (labor; work; vocation)?
We get our food, our housing, medicine, communication, water, gas, electricity and so on and so forth from this sphere of labor. It funds everything. But how important is this sphere? It is from the sphere also that we get drugs, abortion, greed, gambling, porn, movies and entertainment, genetic engineering, Enron, hedge funds, everything. So in a discussion about Biblical worldview or in other words, looking at labor from God’s design, how can we neglect this sphere, or not address it when it literally encompasses everything that we do?
The general Biblical Economic model acknowledges that in reality, God is the one who owns everything. That beings said, we also have to deal with the material stuff and what this means for us as stewards over it. If we are taking about an economy, we are talking about the management of the property that ultimately belongs to God over which we are placed as stewards, and over which the steward will be held accountable.
1) All things belong to God.
One of the deep pathologies in our culture today is our obsession with stuff.
2) God has created man to be a creative steward of his goods and grants us ownership rights over those things.
“Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature thats moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28
God has given us the privilege to be His created stewards, or in other words, a person or group placed in the position of management over someone else’s property. We will be held accountable for how we deal with God’s goods. (Refer to the Parable of the Talent).
This begs the question:
What does it look like to be a steward?
There is an owner; there are goods and services; and there are workers. God has essentially given us the right to delegate, and that is what makes up the entire sphere of labor.
What does God say about these members in this sphere? (owner-goods-workers)
This is radical stuff
Ephesians 6:5-8 says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”
This has everything do with self-governing as well as the motivations of our hearts which is always what Jesus is getting at in the New Testament. It’s where the quality of your work is not dependent on who is watching- you’re doing it to the best of your ability for the Lord because He made you in order to do it- not for men.
“…Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”
I believe that a large reason why even Christians struggle with their work is that they may not see how it directly contributes to God’s work on earth, or God’s plan. I’ve settled this issue in my own mind and within my own sphere of work by simply understanding that serving a need in a way that reflects God’s plan for the world is the greatest use of my work as a human being in a world.
Whatever I am doing, if I am serving a need, I am doing my job in God’s sight and that is good enough for me. If he made someone, for example, highly skilled in communication, no matter what that person does from flipping burgers to managing a crew of 50 people, he or she gives God pleasure when they speak to others as if they were speaking to God (“…do to the glory of God), with so much dignity and honor that when people leave their presence, they leave feeling blessed and better because of what was said.
3) Choose To Have Joy In Your Work
It’s not necessarily about carving out a job that custom-fits every facet of your gifting in its entirety; its about harnessing your gift in a unique way and bringing it into the details your work, no matter what it is, so that God receives the glory. When you’re simply being you, just as He made you to be, you’re doing your work. There’s a huge difference. Some people will never find contentment in their work until they reign in that understanding because there is no perfect job, boss, or circumstance. Even the people happiest at their jobs will only find so much of a larger void filled in their lives until they have learned the art of doing their work for the glory of God. No work will ever be enough for us until it is submitted to God which is where we receive our power to work in total unbridled freedom for the sake of the work itself, because we feel God’s pleasure when we do it.
Without that upward gaze, work is just work, and what a low view & use of the human mind and body. When you’ve experienced God’s grace, and you understand that you were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) the Christian is free to honor God, love neighbors, and serve the common good through work where even the smallest details have huge meaning in the Kingdom. When you simply do your tasks as if God was the one you were doing it for, it makes all the difference. Part of this requires submitting yourself and the details of your job before the Lord every single day until it becomes habit. God can use even the most inglorious job to fulfill deeply meaningful purposes in the lives of others. God’s loving care comes to us largely through the labor of others, leaving no task unimportant.
As we go about our own individual work and jobs, we each (as followers of Jesus), have to ask God for insight on how it can be done distinctively in our trade and for His glory. In fact I would argue that it is essential that we make every effort to understand how God would have us to do our individual work and the Biblical worldview surrounding it.
I love Timothy Keller’s Book “Every Good Endeavor,” because he does an excellent treatment of the theology of vocation. In it he writes,
As an extension of God’s providential work that can be done through us, our work has its orientation toward our neighbor or our communities, and we must know how it can be done excellently and for his or her good as well…Christians need to place a high value on ALL work (especially excellent work), done by all people, as a channel of God’s love for the world. They will be able to appreciate and rejoice in their own work, whether it is prestigious or not, as well as the skillful work of all other people, whether they believe or not. A Biblical conception of work then, as a vehicle for God’s loving provision for the world is essential. It counteracts the elitism and sectarianism that can creep into our approach to work when we grasp the distinctiveness of the Christian worldview.”
Can you imagine if believers simply carried out these commands, or better yet, had a higher view of the original design of work? What would it say to the world we live in if we started coming to work with this excitement and purpose each day? Why? Because i’m working as if I were working directly for God. If we want to fulfill His design in the role as a worker, we are to be joyful workers, excited, creative, and trustworthy hard workers.
More Radical Stuff (particularly in the first century AD)
Ephesians 6:9 says, “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”
When employers understand the privilege, employers should try to help their employees be more creative by carving out options to help them to reduce the mundane. Not every 8-5 job is capable of this sort of management which of course depends on the structure of the business, but the good employer should always be looking for how to do that better for its employees. Even good mangers often times fight ‘the bottom line’ (profit) as the main objective that gets set in their lap. But in God’s economy, I love how profit is one of many bottom lines, and the most important of those bottom lines stem from how we treat those in our sphere of work, as representative of the motivation of the heart. It’s serious business to God, or else it wouldn’t be given such serious treatment in the Bible.
God Cares How we work
Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.”
If we know then that God cares about the ethics (or lack thereof) of our work such as stealing, what are some economic forms of theft?
-Taking others intangible property
-Devaluing another goods or money
-destroying another goods or means of production
-excessive/oppressive improper taxation
-Forced “redistribution of wealth”
4) Skills and Abilities to Work Come From God
Exodus 35:30-33 says, “Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezel, son of Uri…and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship…”
“He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsman, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers- all of them master craftsmen and designers.”
The implication here in both passages is that God’s Spirit living in men and women is what is giving them the ability to produce powerful and marvelous things. We are again, made in His image, so there is no end to the creative processes that He can weave into the mind and body. Skillfulness is a human thing with or without faith; but power and anointing fall on the gifts of the believer rendering them powerful beyond measure when they are done for God’s glory and for His name’s sake.
#5 Work is profitable, good, and to be pursued: Laziness is not
I cannot help but love that scripture is simply layered with discussion after discussion about work and about laziness. By sheer frequency, work is clearly topically important. I have always loved to work, and I have loved the freedom that I’ve experienced through my work from even a really young age. It seems so incredibly important to me to be developing a healthy, Biblically paralleled understanding of work for our own lives so that we do not end up miserable unnecessarily. Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective. I had an extreme version of work ethic in my family of origin surrounding all physical labor, and so it has been a really interesting process to be studying for myself what God actually asks of us when it comes to labor.
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19
In modern day, that sounds pretty much to me like counting on the lottery to take care of you, depending on the government or someone else to take care of you, and/or gambling your life away….
2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
My grandpa used to quote that to me all the time, and I used to think he was being really redundant and harsh, but now I get it and couldn’t agree more.
#6 Love God and not your goods
In Mathew 6 Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure eon earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Again, Jesus for the win, going after the motivations of our hearts. And to be fair, it’s true from even my own experience that it is very hard to be completely devoted to two things at once, especially when one of those things is completely contradictory to the other. God knows that we need money, but when we make even a good thing the ultimate thing, we know then it becomes an idol. Our culture doesn’t “need” God because we have so much excess. The love of money or the unhealthy pursuit of money takes the place of relying on God for our daily bread or the details of provision in our lives.
#7 Be compassionate and generous to those in need
Our deepest responsibility as followers of Jesus is to those who are in need. The Scriptures are not silent on this. God shows us that we can give, even if we only have a little bit, and He goes further to bless those even more who give, who only have a little to begin with.
Leviticus 19:10 says, “Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”
He is talking here about NOT squeezing every last penny out of your harvest for the additional profit it may incur. The implication shown above and all over scripture is that this sphere (labor) has the primary responsibility for the poor. The scripture above from Leviticus is addressed to the owner of the vineyard. He is not asked to harvest it and THEN give it to the poor; It is left for them to work for. That is not oppressive.
In contrast today, we have a broken system that leaves so many people dependent on the government to feed them (harvest and then bring it to them) that often times when there is an opportunity to get their own food by doing some work, many will not even take the opportunity. If you don’t believe me, I have PLENTY of firsthand examples from my own family’s potato farm in Klamath Falls, OR. As a standard practice after very harvest, my grandfather left the remaining potatoes from the harvest (by not going back over the fields a second time), and advertised in the various nearby communities that we knew were needy that they were free to go and pick as much as they needed for free.
Time after time, literally nobody would go and pick potatoes for themselves. They would however tell my Grandpa that they’d take a box if he brought it to them, but they wouldn’t go and work for it themselves. That is not an anomaly, that is as common as it gets. When there is an option not to work, people will take the easy road and let others work for them. That is precisely why God’s design is for man to work. It is actually life-giving. He commands NOT to squeeze everything out of every corner for profit, meaning don’t glean every last drop. He wants to give the less fortunate and the needy the privilege of working with their hands. When you allow someone to work it fulfills a deeper longing than we are sometimes capable of recognizing.
Work is a gift, and we are so used to having it available to us that we’ve taken it for granted as a culture and especially as followers of Jesus who on the whole, lack a healthy theology of labor. Our responsibility is not to give the needy a handout, but instead to think how we can create jobs for them. It’s the difference between handing someone food, or giving them the knowledge, tools, and skills to plant their own garden. We need to begin asking ourselves what are the gleanings to offer to others instead of squeezing out every last drop of profit. The idea is to find ways to allow people to work with their hands- to provide a way for them to work and thus eat.
Ephesians 4:28 “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
That scripture is so counter-cultural in the way that we think in that we don’t typically think of work in terms of earning a wage IN ORDER to have something to give to others. But how lovely and how incredible is God’s social system in the name of social justice. God is calling us in this sphere to be generous with what he prospers us in, no matter how little or how great. For all of the things that the skeptics of Christianity could claim about the worldwide church, no amount of social justice policy or any caliber of human right advocacy group can even hold a candle to the amount of work and money and time that the Church has invested over the years in the poor, needy, hurting, and the widows of our society. The church operates bar none as the catalyst for hands on the ground helping of the poor and needy in society, not just in America but all across the world. There is plenty that needs improvement even in that structure, but it remains true nonetheless.
1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of god be in him?”
Proverbs 28:27 “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.”
Proverbs 29:7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
How should this work?
This is super important.
*We owe it to the poor to understand the complexity of the poor, and to understand that to help the poor materially, we need to have an economic system that is wealth producing. And in doing that, we need to a) understand that wealth is not necessarily a bad thing and b) the poor are their best own agents.
We do them no favors to look upon them merely as victims, but we should instead approach them as innovators in themselves, calling them up to their potential and their right in Christ. Many of the poor, (not the profoundly handicapped or profoundly disturbed) simply need to have the shackles that hold them back removed. When the institutions that hold people back are removed, then you see this normal and healthy economic productivity. which contributes to human flourishing. They need to have a right to property, the right to investment, and legal systems where they can claim their rights. If we want to help the poor materially, we have to consider economics. There is a greater transcendent dimension to this, a spiritual dimension to it, because we need to see the poor as beings of eternity who have a destiny beyond this world. I suggest to you that it is those two things that give rise to really effectively institutionally helping the poor.
The poor need jobs, but not from the state. The dependency-enabling culture that the state breeds is heaping onto the problem as it is, worsening the issue year by year. It’s a huge conversation and a huge issue, but it really is a matter of setting the bar somewhere a bit higher, and teaching the culture what it needs to look like. Eventually, even if it is unfavorable to the ones dependent on the system, if jobs are available that means that freedom is available to them, producing a recognition that like the Bible says, if they don’t work, they wont eat.” Again, if you find that to be oppressive, all I would say is that the system as it is is oppressive in itself because it cuts the legs out from underneath poor people by not calling them up to their higher dignity and calling. The State can prescribe a dollar amount to need but it cannot tend to the spiritual and emotional deficit that renders the most catastrophic social pathologies to date. That’s why it will never be the sufficient fix for the problems we face.
Please trust me when I say that I understand the delicate and difficult nature of what poverty means in the inner city and in the most rural areas, and how those same systems have contributed to those horrific things. Like I said before, we owe it to the poor to understand their situations and base the most effective solution off of that understanding. If each business were encouraged to be profitable, and yet upheld a Biblical worldview that incorporated this theology of labor, profit would be held loosely in balance with the care and provision of work for those outside the typical workplace, encouraging unskilled labor to have its rightful place too- so that they may also glean what they can from the labor already in motion- not depending on the state for a handout.
The church, or the laborers in their every day jobs who follow Jesus, need to start the conversations and create the jobs where they can to accommodate a willing person. This is the part where if the bottom line suffers as a result, we have to consider it a proper sacrifice because we are doing what God has asked of us first. The poor need jobs created through the labor already happening. We need to be carefully carving out areas of our work that need gleaning, so that there is room to file in those who may not be highly skilled, but who are willing to simply do something.
God, having stamped his creative image upon man, graciously grants his stewards the privilege to be creative and manage some of his property, which they may lose (often because of sin) and out of which they are responsible to be generous to the poor.
There is glory bound up in the idea of being creative for God. Every time that Johann sebastian Bach would produce something new, he would put his initials down as SDG, which stands for Soli Deo Gloria. (For God’s glory alone). He recognized as God’s creative agent, that he was involved in creating beauty, and that it was all for His glory and His honor.
We should approach work as a glorious thing, and not to view any area of it as something less. If God has called us to a particular role, how glorious to honor him it in it. As in everything else, we are prone to twist God’s good gifts to us into an idol or into something less than what He intends to use it for. We need to recognize that not all expression in any work belongs to God because we can defile just about anything. But it is the Christian’s job to harness the goodness of God’s gifts to us in a way that we can communicate a redeemed version of this sphere in our lives.
For example, let’s encourage our children to have a vision for being the next Steven Spielberg, and the next Picasso. Let’s encourage them that they shouldn’t do anything other than their gift. They need to know that there is no separation between that which is sacred versus that which is secular when it comes to work. Being a concert musician, or being a garbage man is all holy in the sense that it serves a need, and that is God’s business. By connecting your work with God’s work, you are the catalyst for bringing God’s Kingdom onto Earth. If ‘that’ is your gifting, ‘that’ is your calling. If farming is your gift, that is your calling. If If woodworking is your gift, that is your calling. If cleaning is your gift, that is your calling. If design or plumbing or dentistry is your gifting or passion, that is your calling and that is the vehicle for you to communicate through the work itself, God’s work in you.
Life is not boring if you are living in and through the vision and calling that God has on your life. Work and being creative in even the smallest ways is of huge importance for people. The world around us will attempt to take a view of work like this and turn it into something boring, ugly, or lacking in prestige or status- but that’s what has to be turned on its head, otherwise we will have the next generation of people (our kids) more depressed and purposeless by statistic than we are as a culture, and that would nearly be everyone. It’s clear that millennials particularly are moving out of jobs that they view as purposeless or dull and are taking jobs only that feel meaningful to them. That is all well and good if the jobs better suit their gifting and calling, but if that is still work done in order to please the self, to achieve a perceived happiness, it is still an out-of-order motivation. It will eventually miss the mark even in their own assessment in one way or another. That’s why Gods view of work is like, the height of human dignity and existence.
To end, I want to share a quote from John Coltrane that speaks volumes on precisely what we are getting at in this sphere:
“During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was able to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and the privilege to make others happy through music…to inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life. I feel this has been granted through His grace. All praise to God.”
Coltrane was just like the rest of us. He said deep in his heart, “If I get really good, if i’m successful, if people applaud me, appreciate me, I’ll know i’m significant; i’ll know my life is worth something.” But that kind of inner dynamic doesn’t usually produce the very best work- or perhaps better stated, “the deepest rest,” as Timothy Keller puts it.
As C.S Lewis stated in Mere Christianity,
“You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it…Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.”
Something happened for Coltrane to reveal to him his truest self. One night after a beyond brilliant performance of A Love Supreme, he stepped down off of the stage and he claimed to have had an experience of God’s love that liberated him from the work under the work, for the work itself. He had been given God’s power, and had felt God’s pleasure. John Coltrane stopped making music for his own sake. He did so for the music’s sake, for the listener’s sake, and for God’s sake.
In the Christian perspective, you find your calling by looking at the way you were created. Your gifts have not emerged by random accident and evolved into some perception of your uniqueness which is actually not unique but is instead a mere product of natural selection at some level, like Naturalism would have it. In fact, according to the Biblical narrative about you, you were created as a highly individual, unique design at the hand of a master engineer who had in mind your total personhood.
Even if you feel as though you’re struggling in your work, dealing with an unfair boss or schedule or pay, feeling stuck or feeling that you’re not in a job that takes advantage of all of your gifts- if you’re not sure if what you’re doing matters at all… Let’s get the truth to rub off on us in the most helpful ways possible here: be faithful in the little things, because God sees them. Do the things that nobody sees well, because God is with you enabling you to hod new ground in your work by operating out of a different motivation as well as a different status system.
It is liberating to accept that God is fully aware of where you are at any moment and that by serving the work you’ve been given, you are serving Him. He will open doors for you when He wants you to walk through them. Yet in the same breath, He will show you how He will empower you in every little unseen and ugly task in your current situation, redeeming the mundane in order to help you work from a posture of partnership with Him, the God who speaks and works in the silent details. Losing the ‘self,’ of our work, and experiencing the grace and approval of the Father enables us to work freely and powerfully, knowing that our effort is not to be confused with earning. He has already called you, spoken truth and blessing over you, and confirmed that you’re already good enough. Our effort though, our excellent work and effort is our incredible opportunity to honor and serve the God who made us who we are.
Lord give us fresh eyes on our work and on our own design and gifts. Give each of us the ability to tune in with what you had in mind for us when you pieced our minds and bodies together, and find the gratitude and honor that is due to your name. Help us to see opportunity to use our gifts when the doors open, as well as be actively looking for the opportunities to use our gifts to contributor to the flourishing of those around us. Help us to loving call those around us up to the dignity and purpose that you have given to them and to us as our inheritance in Christ. Teach us to let that be enough, and we ask you to move boldly in our communities and use us as your vehicles for your social system that finds its motivation in love. Amen.