Flourishing in Faith and Work By Dr. Zenet Maramara
Learn to Flourish in Faith and Work
We recently hosted a webinar called “Flourishing in Faith and Work” wherein the participants came from various backgrounds and understanding of the theology of work. One of the ladies in my breakout group says that she works for economic reasons. She is a young single mom who works in order for her and her child to survive.
One of the common notions about work is expressed by our single mom, “we work to live” (survival) while others think “we live to work” (worth and identity). Some simply think that work is a job that we get paid to do.
Work is very much part of our everyday life. What is work? What is its meaning and purpose? What should be our motivation for work? Lee Hardy (The Fabric This World ) says that “we rarely pause to reflect on work itself – its nature, history, present shape and proper place in our lives.” We can examine the nature of God as a worker and what he intended for work for humans created in his image.
The God Who Works
Looking at Scripture, we see that God works. We enjoy his magnificent work in nature and, even now, God continues to work in creation, providence (preserving and sustaining), redemption, sanctification, and re-creation of the world.
As human beings created in the image of God, we are God-like when we work. We partner with God in his continuing work of creating, providing, sustaining, and redeeming/transforming this world. Furthermore, as stewards of God, we are co-regents in guarding and preserving God’s creation. What a joy to work hand in hand with God and what a privilege for puny human beings!
Work is Intrinsic in Humans
Work was given to Adam before the Fall (Gen. 2). After God created the perfect home and environment for Adam, he commanded him to tend and keep it (Gen. 2:15). The Hebrew abad can be translated as serving, watching, and protecting it.
Work is not a curse or punishment as some incorrectly hold. It is a gift from God. We work to serve and worship God, help others, and build the kingdom of God. As his image-bearers, our work reflects the life-sustaining nature of our God. Work is part of the creative design of God and manifests the redemptive grace of God in the home and in the workplace.
John Goldingay, (John Goldingay and Robert Innes, God at Work), however, warns us that “unless we are able to see God at work in creative purposes of God at work in the whole of creation, we are unlikely to make progress in the sphere of work.” On the other hand, Gordon Preece says that “when we view our work in the light of God’s work we can see God’s hands in everyday tasks.” It is like Brother Lawrence, a 17th-century monk who experienced the presence of God even in the most menial task of washing dishes.”
Stewarding Our Work
Genesis 1:26-28 commands humankind to be fruitful and multiply and to be responsible for all living things that move on the earth. This creation mandate or cultural mandate best reflects human responsibility to create order, civilization, and culture. Throughout the ages, humanity contributed to the flourishing of arts, literature, architecture, science, medicine, and others.
This same creation or cultural mandate is also our stewardship mandate. Everything belongs to God, the true owner, and we are stewards entrusted with divine responsibilities. Life and work are gifts from God that we can steward with gratitude.
How then can you steward your work and avoid your work from becoming an idol? How can you keep yourself from the extremes of overwork (workaholism) and laziness? “Without a deep sense of calling many people drift into a toxic mix of drivenness, expressed in workaholism and the compulsive pursuit of pleasure” (Paul Stevens).
Veronica, one of our work webinar participants shared that when she wrote her personal mission statement or life mission, it helped her invest her time, energy, and resources in things that matter to God. Knowing your calling and discerning your God-given vocation can make you appreciate its place in the kingdom of God. You will find meaning and the right motivation for work that brings joy even to the most mundane tasks. Our work will not define us, but our identity as children and stewards of God.
Flourishing in our Faith and Work
When we do what we are meant to do, our work not only becomes meaningful but joyful. While we get self-fulfillment from our work, we derive even greater satisfaction from serving others and worshiping God through our work.
“Whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, do all for the glory of God,”
~ 1 Cor 10:31
A mantra we repeat at Global Trust Partners (GTP.org) is that our faithful work produces fruitfulness from God. Mindful of our role as stewards, we strive to work with faithfulness and excellence in whatever our hands find to do.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving,”
~ Col. 3:23-4
Another way to flourish in our faith and work is to find rest. Rest can be an antidote to making work our idol. It is the rhythm of work and rest that sustains and nurtures the body and the spirit.
“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work, you, nor your son, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger who is within your gate.”
~ Exo. 20:9-10
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. Isaiah 58 reminds us of God’s blessings for Sabbath-keepers which include his protection, victory over enemies, and a closer relationship with him.
Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder/president of Christian Stewardship Association and the chairman of Christians in Conservation, an A Rocha associated project. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at Asian Theological Seminary and former director of the ATS Strategic Leader Development. She organized and directed the MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management program of ATS.
What is Christian Leadership Alliance?
Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.