HIGHER THINKING BLOG
Thank God It’s… By Scott Rodin
Rethinking our view of work in light of God greater mission.
“Thanks God it’s Friday!” Have you ever said that? Thought it?
If we’re not careful we can fall into a distorted view of work that permeates our culture. For many, work is the toilsome necessity that we endure in order to enjoy the good things in life, like weekends, vacations and, ultimately, retirement. All of these are defined by their absence of work. Even in ministry we can fall into the trap of setting work apart from the rest of our lives that seem fit more biblically under the full Lordship of Christ. As a result, work can become ‘our work, done our way, for our glory’. The shift is subtle, and devastating. This is a problem of our theology of work.
The freedom and joy of serving as a steward leader is dependent in large part on our theology of work. A correct theology of work begins with the understanding that work is the beginning of all anthropology. God created us in His image and that image is to be reflected in our work. He labored for six days and then rested. His working is where all creation began and since humanity was created in His image it is the first place for us to begin as well.
But it gets better. In Genesis 2:5 says,
“Now no shrub of the field had yet sprouted for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to cultivate the ground.”
Ten verses later the Scriptures say,
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
Immediately after giving life to the human, God gives purpose to that life. Genesis is unequivocal in its linkage of our creation and our calling.
The core teaching here is that God grants us the gift of work because in it we are fellow workers with Him. We must not miss this! Wherever we work, whatever our task, we can be assured that he is also at work in and through and around all that we are doing. Through the prophet Zephaniah God spoke of His people serving Him “shoulder to shoulder” as they brought their offerings to Him (Zephaniah 3:9). There is no place that we toil that is absent from the presence of God.
God at Work
How do you see God at work in your place of work?
Look around at your coworkers, your bosses, your clients, your peers and consider what God’s Spirit might be doing. If we see everyone in our work community as beloved by God and fellow travelers on a journey of faith, we will get a glimpse of how God is at work even in the most unexpected places. Is there any heart too hard for Him to penetrate? Is there any work environment so hostile to His presence that it is able to keep Him out? If we believe that God is at work in every arena of life, then we can better understand our role as co-laborers with Him in whatever setting we find ourselves.
Work has Value
Because we are partners with our Creator, our work has value. And that value lies in the very manner in which we do our work. Labor has an inherent goodness as created by God specifically for us and for our good. This means the reward in labor is not the financial remuneration but the faithful and joyful participation in the work that is God’s first. That should be the reason we work with excellence. It’s not just that the work requires excellence, but we seek to be excellent because in our work we bear the image of the God who created us. Work is not a means to a greater end but an end in itself. Our work is the evidence of our created nature. Therefore, we don’t work in order to live but we truly live in order to work.
A Final Word
If in our work we are partnering with God in His greater mission, then can our work be anything less than worship? Our work life will demand more time from us than any other single component of our life; more than sleeping, eating, being with family and friends, or any other earthly activity. We also know that the most fundamental purpose for our creation is to worship God and enjoy His fellowship.
Perhaps that’s why the Hebrew word avodah (עֲבוֹדָה) is used both for work and worship. Throughout Scripture labor is commingled with our acts of worship. Our place of work is meant to be our primary place of worship. If we are to spend the majority of our earthly hours engaged in work, then this is the location, the arena in which we live out what it means to follow Jesus. The bottom line in all of this is that He invented work as the place where we would be filled, inspired and contented. We were created to find meaning and purpose in our work and therefore it should leave us satisfied.
- Where is the presence of Christ in your daily work?
- To what extent do you see your work as a reflection of the image of God working in you and through you?
Regardless of how powerful or menial your work may be, can you embrace the understanding that you are a co-laborer with God in the great work that He is doing? Can your work truly become an act of worship?
Your work reflects the reason you were created and endowed with your God-given skills and talents. Use them each day to represent His presence and reflect His glory in and through your work.
Who knows, perhaps we can change the expression to, “Thank God It’s Monday.”
Scott Rodin is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and is past board chair of ChinaSource and the Evangelical Environmental Network.
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