What is work?

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “work”? Obligation? Drudgery? Something difficult? What about abundant life? If your answer to that question is no, it’s time to bring God into your work. For many, work is the means by which an individual earns a living. It is money-based. The whole goal is making money. You don’t have to read much of the new testament to know that earning money is opposite of God’s purposes...right? Maybe not.

Because of the view of jobs existing simply as a means to provide, the word has divided “ministry” and “work”. Think about, however, how much abundant living can be found within making a living. Patrick Lai’s Tentmaking book proposes that the best thing you can give someone is the gospel. It then suggests second best thing you can give someone is a job or means to earn a living. Why?

Work of all kinds has several things in common:

  1. Time spent. Most people spend, on average, forty hours per week working. That’s a lot of hours! Who are you with during that time? If you work with coworkers, how much of that time is spent investing in connecting with them, blessing them, or witnessing to them? If you work alone, how much of that time do you spend praying or listening to what God may be saying in the stillness or monotony of your work day? God never meant for our time at work to be time taken from worship or ministry. He meant for our time at work to be time with Him.

  2. Provision gained. While it may feel like we’re earning our wages when we work, ultimately, work is a means through which God blesses us. He blesses us financially, relationally, and even experientially. A large portion of teachings in the Bible are done through story, allegory, parable, or life experience of another. What experiences are you going through at work? Where is God in those experiences? What are they teaching you about God?

  3. Skills acquired. Many times at work we do things because we have to. The necessity to expand into unknown skills or endeavors is how we grow. Peter stepping out of the boat was a new trust experience. While our day to day work experiences may not feel so extreme, they are still opportunities for God to show His strength in our weakness, to show how He created us, and for Him to teach us how to steward and employ the fullness of what skills we have been given. Just like a proud, astonished smile on the face of a toddler who has mastered a new skill, we can all relate to the feeling of, “wow! I did that!”. The Father wants to coach us through work so that we learn that through Him, we can do all things. 

Today as you head off to wherever you work, keep these things in mind. How are you inviting God to grow your talents at work? How are you thanking God and stewarding the provision provided by the job He has blessed you with? How are you using the time you’ve been given at work to welcome God into that place? Pretty soon it becomes evident that work and worship aren’t so different after all.