By Erin Bird
When you read the Bible, you’ll meet a lot of people God used who didn’t have “Christian” jobs.
- Nehemiah was a “cup bearer” for a king before becoming a city planner.
- Esther was an unlikely queen who bravely stepped up in a political world.
- David started life as a shepherd.
- Paul wasn’t just a Jew on track to being a powerful Rabbi, he also earned a living making tents.
- And of course, Jesus picked up his disciples from fishing boats and tax booths.
And guess what… God used all of them!
I think we sometimes think that God only uses those in full-time vocational ministry. But as you can see from Scripture, that is so far from the truth. In fact, I firmly believe that if you are a follower of Jesus, God has you in your specific job for this season in your life for a reason. How can you make the most of your workplace, and actually grow spiritually through your job? After all, you spend WAY more time at work than you could at a Riverwood Worship Gathering, a Growth Group, and a FirstServe event combined.
But so many of us are miserable in our jobs. We view our work as a means to an end. It’s something we get through so we can get what we really want (the weekend, our hobby, or retirement).
So let me talk about work for a moment, because I want to see your job not just be something you put up with, but a place you honor God.
In the beginning, God worked.
The Bible begins talking about work as soon as it begins talking about anything – that is how important and basic it is. Work was not an evil that came onto the scene after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. No, God Himself worked – and what He accomplished through His work was good. And then God assigned work to mankind. It wasn’t a punishment – it was to be a delight! God’s plan for humans always involved them working, living in a cycle of work and rest in relationship with Him.
God made the world to need work.
While God created other forms of life, only humans are explicitly given a job. We are called to exercise stewardship over God’s creation. The Bible sees all work as distinguishing human beings from animals and elevating them to a place of dignity.
In Genesis, God is a Creator. In the New Testament, He is a carpenter. And because we are made in His image, God made it our job to develop and build this society – like a carpenter or creator. We’re not just here to take up space – we, like Adam, are here to cultivate the “garden.”
God wants to use you through your work.
In 1 Corinthians 7 (which we’ll get to in a few weeks), Paul counsels readers that when they become Jesus-followers, it isn’t necessary to change what they are currently doing in life in order to live lives that please God (unless of course your job involves illegal activities!). In other words, you don’t have to quit your job and become a missionary to make a difference. You can be a missionary at your job.
Work can actually be worship.
Therefore, how we view work and how we do our work matters. Jesus spent the majority of his life as a carpenter, not a rabbi. He spent more time making tables than making wine from water. Jesus knew what it was like to get up and go to work everyday. Working with his hands was not beneath him. In fact, it was just a continuation of what he’d always been doing from eternity past.
That’s why the Apostle Paul said, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” – (Colossians 3:23-24, NLT)
Work is not a punishment. Even the smallest of jobs isn’t menial. Work is not about economic exchange, making money, or getting the dream. It’s about honoring God through human creativity and contribution.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.’”
So don’t ever think your job isn’t important. Don’t ever think what I’m doing for Riverwood is more impactful than what you’re doing. Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference at work. If you follow Jesus, then show up at work tomorrow with a divine perspective. Clock in at your job with expectancy that God might do something through you in the lives of your co-workers and those you’ll interact with. Understand that God has you there for a reason and that wherever you are, you are a minister of the Gospel.
So Go, be a blessing at work…