We recently looked at the subject of work at Carnmoney. Below [in no particular order] are some thoughts on this subject.
1. Pastors must have credibility when speaking about work
Paul says to the workers in Thessalonica ‘you ought to follow our example, we were not idle when we were with you … we worked night and day, labouring and toiling’ [2 Thessalonians 3:7-8] If you are employed by a church or a Christian organisation. It’s not a place to hide or an escape from real work. Christian leadership is inviting other Christians to follow your example in every area of life. This includes work.
2. All work has purpose
It would be really depressing to think that what you spend the majority of your week doing only has significance because it gives you money to support Christian ministers and missionaries. You don’t clock into God’s kingdom work when you enter a church building to serve as a volunteer and then clock out as you return to the office or classroom. Everything has eternal significance. Whether you’re a painter or a parent, a businessman or a builder – it counts! All work is done to steward the creation made by God and ultimately He is the top of every organisational chart. ‘whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not men.’ [Colossians 3:23] This should radically transform the Christian attitude to work.
3. Work is not a bad thing
God gave Adam and Eve a real privilege by tasking them with the stewardship of creation. It was His world that He had made and declared that it was good. God is a worker and made humans in His image to continue to bring order out of chaos. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” [Genesis 2:15] God works and He has no needs. It’s not like God has to work to put food on the table or keep a roof over His head. Work is in His perfect nature. We are made in His image and He gave work to humans before sin entered the world.
4. Work exposes our need for help
Whether it’s a paper jam, computer virus, financial crash or an irritating colleague, work is a venue where we are exposed to some challenges. Our work reveals to us on a daily basis that we are not God. If we were in total control, work would not present these difficulties. Adam and Eve made a bid for independence, ignored their Boss and rebelled against their Creator on their first day at work. It did not go well. Sin entered the world as a result of their rebellion and we all now realise that the world is not as it should be. We are dependent creatures designed for dependence upon our Creator. Work is a venue where we are reminded of this reality, again and again!
5. Work is a location to reveal Jesus
Rather than seeing your work as a place to make a big deal of yourself. Work is a place to make a big deal of Jesus. The fishermen disciples could leave their nets behind and follow Jesus because they knew there was [as Tim Keller says] ‘a fishing beyond fishing.’ There’s more to my trade than the trade itself. God is at work in it and through it to glorify Himself. We are ‘Christ’s ambassadors.’ [2 Corinthians 5:20] People will get an impression of Jesus by how you work and relate to them. Is Jesus a lazy, gossip who cannot be trusted to get the report in on time? Is He a snob who mistreats the workers further down the organisational chart?
6. Work is not where we find our true identity
The reason we over work [or under work] is because we believe true life/meaning/pleasure is found in something other than Jesus. Work [if viewed wrongly] can become the alternative saviour that provides for you the rescue you think you need. Work becomes our hope to move us upward. It’s how you validate your existence or measure your worth. The good news of the gospel is that you have worth that outstrips your best pay day or performance review. You are not your job title and you are not your redundancy. Your identity is given by Jesus work on the Cross not your work in the classroom. Maturity as a Christian develops as you continually remind yourself of this amazing reality… ‘you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.’ [Colossians 3:3] When God the Father looks at Jesus, He says ‘this is my Son whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.’ This is the same Son that you now hide your life in!
If you are a Christian – God is well pleased with you because of Jesus work.