Every week, I look at ways Christians can serve God through their daily work. Here’s where I got the idea. Previously, we’ve looked at serving God by furthering social justice, evangelizing co-workers, skillful excellence, creating beauty, and last week by influencing culture. This week is a much more personal way to serve God. It comes out of our attitude towards work – whether we like our job or not. So we come to our 6th way to serve God at work:
The way to serve God at work is to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs.*
This One’s Important. I was chatting with a friend who has his own business. I showed him the list of 8 ways to serve God through work and asked him which one he thought was most relevant to him. I thought it might be the creation of beauty or skillful excellence as he is an artisan of some skill. Or it could have been furthering social justice because I knew of the choices he made in his supply purchases. But no, serving God gratefully, joyfully through good times and bad was it. Why?
Work Can Be Wonderful. Human labour is created by God and so has the potential to bring great satisfaction and joy. In the Garden, our first parents were given work to do. It was part of the Creator’s plan for us to cultivate His good world. There can be immense satisfaction in creating, building, accomplishing, helping, problem-solving in whatever work we have been given to do in this world. Many people experience their vocation in this way; it is more than just a way to make money but gives them satisfaction. The Psalmist knows this as he prays establish the work of our hands. But that is not the only side to working life…
Work Can Be Frustrating. Everyone knows that some of our greatest struggles can take place in the realm of our work. This should not be a surprise, when our first parents fell their experience of labour fell with them. Many of us don’t like our jobs. Or even if we do like our jobs, they can be immensely frustrating much of the time. Stress, risk, relational strife, disappointment, failure…all these can be experienced throughout our working lives.** I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but this world does not just open up for us and provide us with an abundance of ease. Work can be tough and frustrating. The same vocation can be rewarding and satisfying, and tough and frustrating – even on the same day. But because of this dynamic, not in spite of it, we have opportunity to serve God.
It’s About Your Heart. When God gets ahold of our lives through the Gospel we are changed. We have access to a joy we didn’t before – one that does not depend on circumstances. We become grateful not only for our salvation but for every good thing in our lives. God provides for us through our work and we can be grateful. When we trust God in tough times, and thank Him in good times, we are living out Gospel-changed lives. Because so much good and so much difficulty comes our way in our working lives – through risk, stress, hard days/seasons, good days/seasons – there are few better testing grounds for us. We are mixing with non-Christians so often in our workplaces and they are watching! It can also be a great witness to them as to what a life that trusts God looks like. For as God Himself tells us:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world… Philippians 2:14-15
* The full list of eight ways to serve God at work is lifted from page 22 of Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller. Buy it and read it!!!
** For those of you who think vocational ministry is any different, it ain’t!