Jonathan Durke from Hope church, Worcester, has written an excellent blog on his insight into God’s pupose in our work. If you’re feeling discouraged with where you’re working or what you’re doing, have a read of this.
“Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go!” In reality most employees are not as enthusiastic about work as the seven dwarves were. Since early civilisation the concept of working has been bitterly received as a compulsory task that is a means to affording the real pleasures we desire. Many of us perceive employment as a prison, a necessary evil for a cheque we cash in at the end of the month to provide what we need to live. This article is not an attempt to change your mind towards work so that you do it singing to the same tune as Happy, Grumpy and Dopey; but an encouragement for those who believe where they are now is not where they are meant to be.
First things first, let us dispel a common misunderstanding. Work is not a result of the Fall. It is not a tool of Satan and his demons. Work, when perceived and dealt with correctly, is a gift from God. It is not even a gift solely given for our provision of money, for God knows what we need. He gives generously to the birds and flowers so of course He will abundantly provide all we materially need. No, work is a gift that gives more than money; it gives us learning, maturity and responsibility.
Consider Adam, he was commanded by the Lord to work the land and keep it. He was given responsibility to oversee and work in Eden. The Fall happened after. Work is an opportunity to take responsibility wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Adam even took this responsibility to outside Eden under the sweat of thistles and hard soil after creation’s fall. Like Adam you too can work well by being responsible in a job so awful it seems like the Fall has hit it!
Think about Joseph. He was bought as a slave and forced to work in Potiphar’s household. What seemed like horrendous work was actually an opportunity for him to learn the ways of Egypt, with its government and politics under the Captain of the Guard. Like Joseph, you too can work well by learning all you can so you are competent with your skills, even if it is being taught to you by a boss like Potiphar!
Finally I offer my own experience. As well as taking responsibility and learning, when I reflect on my work I see how I have matured. Working forces me to get on with it, to do things I do not like and this helps me grow up. As a child I did what I wanted, relied on others to provide for me and played my days away. As an adult I do what I have to, rely on myself and work my days away. Doing what I have to, being reliable and working throughout the day is good and godly. Working builds character, integrity and discipline, it builds maturity.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whoever you are doing it with and however it is being done, do it well. The first step in pursing where you believe you are called to be is to do well what you already are doing. Jesus said that someone who is faithful in a little will be faithful with a lot. If you work well with the little you have now or somewhere where your talents are little used then you show that you can work well with more and in greater capacity. Work well whatever you are doing because it is a gift that gives responsibility, learning and maturity.
So we know that work is not a tool of Satan or a result of our sinful fall but a gift from God. Work is not also a gift from God to us but a gift from us to God. It is worship. When we work we are worshipping. Work is a form of worship in which we use the hands and mind we were worshipping God with on Sunday morning and apply them to our work on Monday. The hand that was lifted in praise at church is the same hand that is put to the keyboard at your office. We must be as intentional with our work as we are with our worship. We worship God to demonstrate our gratitude and love for Him, should we not worship God through work to display that same gratitude and love? Why should our voices be excellent but our vocations shoddy? Why should our dancing and clapping be vigorous but our typing and filing be mundane? Worship to God is not limited to a place or a time anymore. Instead worship is unlimited and free for all at any time in any place. That includes your place of work and during your working hours. Worship is not confined to the church building or the scheduled gatherings of other believers but is set loose to be seen, heard and experienced by our unbelieving co-workers.
Worshipping through work is a form of evangelism. Our colleagues may never accept our invitation to church. They may never want to listen to the Gospel or ask questions about it. Yet something they cannot escape or avoid is how we conduct ourselves, speak, react and live our lives at work. So if we behave in a worshipful way at work is that not demonstrating something of the Faith and Kingdom we live for? If we work with excellence and professionalism, mixed with integrity and character, our co-workers will not help but notice; and the questions may come flooding in!
Lastly, what I have learnt is when I gather with God’s family to worship Him I offer my weeks work as a sacrifice and no matter what has happened during it, I worship God with all my might! This is how we worship well, by working well and presenting our hard work as a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord. It is us saying, “I’ve worked a rubbish job, doing my best with it for your glory.” Work is a form of worship that makes us more worshipful.
This is the last thing I have learnt. If we struggle to work well and worship well our waiting will seem long and drawn out. However, if we work and worship well our waiting will be purposeful and helpful. This waiting I refer to is the heart of why I wrote this. It is for those who know there are greater things out there; things that will put their gifts, skills and passions to use. Occupations, professions and vocations that will excite them and make them zealous. If where you work now is not where you want to stay then working well with what you have got and offering it as an act of worship will help you to wait well. Do not give up, do not throw in the towel or wave the white flag of defeat. Do not go to work complaining, whining, moaning and doing an awful job while saying to yourself, “I do not like where I am so I will just do it and wait until something better comes along.” That is not waiting on the Lord. True waiting is doing your best with whatever it is while hoping, praying and seeking better still.
Remember our forefather Jacob. He worked seven years for Rachel, his future wife, and then another seven after a little awkward misunderstanding with her father and sister…(if you want to be grateful for the time we live in and our marriage laws then read this story!) Jacob worked well in the fields for his father-in-law, he worshipped well as a founding father of our faith and he waited very well for what he desired. Waiting well means taking responsibility, learning and maturing in your work and offering it as worship.
If we work well and in doing so learn more, mature more and take more responsibility in the atmosphere of worship, as we wait we will be equipped for that next opportunity more learned, wiser and capable. It is in the waiting that we grow, that we understand, that we become more like God. The journey is the true prize. Let us together, those who yearn for greater things in our vocations, work, worship and wait well.”