Take This Job and Love It! by Joel Smith
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Take This Job and Love It! by Joel Smith
Today’s Message: Take This Job and Love It!
Wellspring Community Church 09.01.02
Big Idea: Thank God it’s Monday!
Have you ever heard this popular saying? “No one on his deathbed ever says, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” This modern proverb is on its way to becoming a classic. In fact, only one thing keeps it from achieving timeless status as a Great Truth of Life.
It’s not true.
In point of fact, many people on their deathbeds do regret not having spent more time at the office. Albert Einstein’s last words to his son were: “If only I had more mathematics!” The French composer Ravel’s final utterance was: “I still had so much music to write!” American engineer and inventor James Eads departed this world with: “I cannot die! I have not finished my work!” Charles Darwin voiced only one regret as he lay dying: “I am only sorry that I haven’t the strength to go on with my research.”
Tim Downs, Finding Common Ground (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 165.
Is that the way you feel about your work or is your job merely something to endure so that you can pay the bills? Let me state, right up front, that God has uniquely shaped you for a particular vocation. He never intended that we finish up the work week and say “Thank God it’s Friday!” As people of faith we are to take God to work with us to that we can actually say “Thank God it’s Monday!”
Let’s be honest, though, for many of us work is a four-letter word. It’s something we’d just assume avoid. I think it’s because we don’t have a proper perspective on work.
IS WORK JUST A FOUR-LETTER WORD?
The first thing that you must understand is that …
God is a worker.
Notice Jesus’ words:
But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” John 5:17
God works. Obviously he doesn’t have to bring home a paycheck, but he works nonetheless. The Bible reveals that there are two big reasons why God works. First, God’s work reveals who he is. Look at Romans 1:20.
From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Romans 1:20 (NLT)
The invisible, spiritual God shows us who he is through his creation. We are finite, physical creatures and the only way we can even begin to comprehend God is through the work of his hands.
I think there’s a second, less theological sounding reason. It appears that God’s work brings him satisfaction. In the Genesis account of creation, God makes the heavens and the earth in six days. When all was said and done God stepped back and commented on it all.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1:31
God himself made this pronouncement. So we see that God’s work both expresses who he is and brings him satisfaction.
Here’s another fact that you need to know about work. It shouldn’t be a just a four-letter word to us because …
God created humanity to work.
It’s a part of our very nature. Notice how we were created.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
If we’re made in God’s image we can only conclude that we were created to work. If that implication isn’t strong enough, let’s look at the first thing God gave the original man to do.
The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. …Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:8, 15
God put him to work. We can only conclude that originally humanity’s work had the same purposes as God’s work: expression of self and to bring a sense of satisfaction.
Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, your work means fulfilling your God-given design to make an impact on the world around you.
In the beginning, God gave us work and it was a good thing. But an event occurred that threw a wrench into the plan.
Our work was frustrated by the Fall.
Humanity rebelled against God. He created the first man and woman as sinless beings. He gave them only one command, “Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Satan disguised as a serpent enticed them to break that one rule. They ate and their sinless status was broken. As their heirs all humanity is in infected with sin because of the Fall.
After this event, God revealed to the man that his sin had affected his relationship to God, his relationship to his wife, and even his work.
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)
Because of sin, rebellion against God, the purpose of work was altered. Rather than work as a means of self-expression and to bring satisfaction our labor meant providing food and other necessities to live. God didn’t do this to us. In the Garden of Eden, food and shelter was provided. Clothing was optional. Adam and Even worked for the pleasure of it. That all ended with the Fall.
Today we perpetuate what began way back then.
Our work continues to be frustrated by faulty perspectives.
If you’re into bumper-sticker philosophy, you’ve probably seen the axiom, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” For a vast portion of the workforce, that’s the best reason they can muster for going to the job each day. According to one poll, only 43 percent of American office workers are satisfied with their jobs. In Japan, the figure dips to 17 percent.
Our Daily Bread, September 5, 1994
We tend to view work merely as a means to make a living. Today this mindset dominates in America. Work equals money. This faulty perspective was nearly cemented in place by the Industrial Revolution. In particular, the advances of Henry Ford brought our modern mindset into being.
Ford’s assembly line shortened the time needed to construct an automobile from 12.5 hours to just 1.5 hours, but this technical efficiency came at a high human price. As worker boredom increased so did absenteeism. As production quotas continually increased, workers began to suffer stress-related ailments, and the incidence of alcoholism increased. In a short time, Ford found it difficult to keep enough workers on his assembly lines to meet the production schedule.
What went wrong? … on an assembly line man was separated from his work. Once, work was the deepest expression of who a person was; now, there was nothing of the person in his work – he had become little more than an extension of the machine he operated.
Laborers often had little idea what their monotonous task contributed to the final product – in fact, from where most of them stood, they couldn’t even see the end of the assembly line. Once, a worker might have felt esteemed as a respected craftsman in a field that required years of training and experience. Now, almost anyone could do almost any job. For the sake of productivity, something terrible had been sacrificed – the meaning of work.
Ford’s solution to the lack of worker motivation was to more than double the average salary, from $2.34 for a nine-hour day to $5 for an eight-hour day. Ford’s audacious offer more than solved his manpower problem. It made employment in his factory a sought-after prize. But even as he solved one problem, he created another. Ford’s workers, through their boredom, stress, alcoholism, and absenteeism, were expressing their struggle with a single question: What does my work mean? Ford’s answer: Work means money. And though the Model T has long since disappeared, Ford’s simplistic answer to the meaning of work still torments many of us today.
Tim Downs, Finding Common Ground (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 167-168.
Another faulty perception that people ascribe to work is that it becomes the place where we find love, acceptance, and affirmation. There’s nothing wrong with seeking fulfillment in work, but love, acceptance and affirmation belong to relationships. Work must be put in its proper place. Only God and our connections to people can bring love, acceptance and affirmation.
God created us in his image, to work, where we can express ourselves, find satisfaction and impact the world around us. We can get back to this original intent only when we begin to take God to work with us. If you can take God to work you’ll be able to say, “Thank God it’s Monday!”
HOW TO TAKE GOD TO WORK
1. View your workplace as a sacred space.
The problem that we have as modern American Christian is that we compartmentalize our lives. We confine work to this little box. Family time goes in that box over there. God and religious stuff stay in the church building. This is why some folks act a certain way on Sunday mornings and then seem to leave God and everything they’ve learned and experienced behind on Monday morning. If you tend to compartmentalize God, look at this verse:
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” Acts 17:24
According to the Puritans, “all professions are spiritual to the Christian, not because of the nature of the work but because of the presence of God. …When a Christian – the temple of the Holy Spirit – walks into an office at IBM, IBM becomes a spiritual place.”
Tim Downs, Finding Common Ground (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 170
If you want to be able to say “Thank God it’s Monday!” you’ve got to tear down the wall and the perspective that keeps God away from your work. Begin to look at your work as your mission field. That doesn’t mean that God expects you to preach to all your co-workers or pass out tracts or start up religious activities. You do begin to ask yourself how you can do God’s will where you work. Begin to view your workplace as a sacred space. God is just as present in your office or car or shop or store as he is in this church building.
2. Introduce God to your specific job.
Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
You can honor God through your specific job.
A significant and often overlooked way that we serve God is in our everyday tasks. Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
Our Daily Bread, September 5, 1994
To introduce God to our specific jobs, we need to think deeply about questions like these:
• What does it mean to both be a Christian and hold this job?
• How would I do my job differently if I were not a Christian?
• What biblical principles most apply to my daily responsibilities?
• How should my faith affect the way I relate to my co-workers, superiors, or employees?
• Do I know any experienced or successful Christians in this line of work? Is there a way I can benefit from their experience?
• Has anything been written by a Christian in this or a similar field?
• Can I meet with other Christians in my field to continue to explore these questions?
Tim Downs, Finding Common Ground (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 174.
3. Treat co-workers with care.
What’s your attitude toward the people you work with? How do you treat them? Do your actions and attitude reflect the image of God or do you operate in default mode by following the practices of a self-centered, money-grubbing culture? Which is more characteristic of you, competition, self-promotion and one-upmanship or service, compassion and cooperation? Treat those co-workers with care. Take a cue from the Jesus.
Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and what they’re doing. Your attitude should be the same as that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT)
4. Find a career that fits your calling.
There’s a another faulty perception running around out there that I want to dispense with right now. I’m often asked by folks about my calling into pastoral ministry. I don’t mind sharing it at all. But, you know what, when I was teaching high school science no one ever asked me about my calling into public education. I wish they would have.
My point is this: we are all called by God to a particular vocation. He has uniquely wired each of us up for a particular kind of work. I should be able to ask each one of you, “So tell me how God called you into sales or construction or teaching or medicine.” How did you know that’s what you were born to do? Make no mistake about it, each of us has a calling. God has a plan for our lives.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
In their book Your Work Matters to God, Doug Sherman and William Hendricks wrote: “God has made you with a specific design. As one of His creatures, He has given you personal resources – a personality, talent, abilities, interests and so forth – which can be used vocationally …
It is clear you are not simply a random collection of molecules thrown together by chance. God has crafted you in a very unique and personal way. In terms of your vocation, this means that you are fit to do certain tasks.
It therefore follows that the “right” job for you is one in which there is a good match between the way God has designed you and a job requiring someone with your abilities.”
Tim Downs, Finding Common Ground (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 172.
If you don’t roll out of bed and think, “Thank God it’s Monday!” let me suggest that you may have simply not found your calling. Or perhaps you know it, but have been too afraid to pursue it. Maybe you’ve opted for the cash rather than the calling.
There are numerous tests you can take to determine how God has wired you up. The simulcast here on the 21st will help you, but I think most folks can just follow this simple bit of wisdom from Gil Bailie:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
John Eldridge, Wild at Heart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 2001), 200.