Work and Purpose.Posted: September 7, 2012
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24
Work is good. That’s what Benjamin Franklin and our Puritan forefathers have said anyway. And the Bible is full of stuff about work as well. It is better to work than to be lazy. Work gives us purpose, it gives us direction.
Sure. That is kind of why I don’t like my job. I would rather work a job that fulfills the purpose I think God put me on earth to do, than a job I don’t enjoy, and doesn’t actually fulfill that purpose.
For the past few years, I’ve been working at jobs that are not particularly what I want to do. The purpose of this blog is not to complain about things I don’t like in my life, so I’m not going to go into detail as to why I don’t like my job, or what makes it not what I want to do; besides, in these economic times, I think many people can realte to this (or are in a worse situation: unemployment).
But right now, despite the measures I’ve already taken to step in the direction of this purpose, I can’t actually do much more than what I’m currently doing besides wait; time is what needs to happen. In the meanwhile, bills have to be paid. And I guess I also need to eat. So: I work at my current job(s).
On Sunday, Brad talked about how we each have a specific purpose that God has put us on earth to do; it’s not just God’s greater, broader purpose of being known and made known, but also a more specific one, one tailored to each one of us individually. Brad also said, though, that we have some responsibility to bear when it comes to fulfilling this purpose.
And while this responsibility for our lives lies on our shoulders, and we can take some kind of action to fulfilling our purposes, there are times in our lives where we cannot take “action,” and this responsibility may just have to do with our attitude: we may not be able to change anything about our circumstance beyond our response to it. We can still change that.
This is something I’ve thought about a lot, especially in recent years. And I have to admit, I used to think it was a load of hogwash (I may have used less charitable adjectives); it seemed kind of like the “glad game” that Pollyanna played.
But here’s a sobering thought: according to Colossians, it’s not Pollyanna-play-acting to play the glad game. It’s what God expects from us. It is how we serve Christ. Even more sobering: Paul expected slaves to play the glad game. And as much as I don’t like my job, it is infinitely better than slavery.
And according to this passage in Colossians, there is no compartmentalizing things, no separate work life from spiritual life: when you work, you serve the Lord Christ, even if it is as a slave.
This is not an endorsement of slavery; it’s a response to God. Our lives are worship, and we respond to God in our lives at all times, in all circumstances, in all things. Not just when we’re happy, or doing work we want to do. Always.
When we labor, when we work, we worship. We serve God, not people. And it is a joy to serve God.
Another frustration that I’m happy to not be enmeshed in these days is that other problem: Not knowing one’s purpose. That’s another common issue that a lot of people deal with. But here’s the good news: We have a Life Vision Retreat coming up at St. Paul’s (9/21-9/22). Join us, and discover the life you were created for; sign up on Sunday.