Dig down deep into your mind and try to recall that little thing called your work, your job, the thing that pays the bills every week. . . ok, who are we kidding? Work is a HUGE part of our lives. It’s the single largest consumer of our waking hours. Anything as large as work begs the question, IS MY WORK PLEASING TO GOD? Afterall, if the thing that you’re doing for 40 hours each week is not pleasing to God, then don’t you need to know, like, IMMEDIATELY!
I suppose this question wouldn’t be so hard to answer if your full-time job title was “Missionary to Africa”, or “Christian Musician”, or “Director of Local Homeless Shelter”, or even “Public School Teacher”. Some jobs have a clear connection to ministry and a clear opportunity to make positive impacts in other people’s lives. However, other job titles aren’t quite as clear. Does God need/want businessmen? Does God need accountants? Does God need laymen?
I’m convinced that the answer is YES! And with that statement comes a disclaimer: Just because God needs workers of all professions and job titles, does not mean that you are SERVING GOD with your work. The only way to know for sure is to like this article, and follow me on twitter, and buy my personalized coffee mug 😛
The bullets below are my thoughts, which lead me to believing that our professions can be used to serve God and fulfill His great commission.
- Garden of Eden Effect: Work is a consequence of sin
God did not create us to be workers. God’s original intent was (and still is today)that we would walk with Him and glorify Him in EVERYTHING we do. It wasn’t until sin entered the world that work would become a necessary part of our lives. After sin, there was sickness and we needed doctors. After sin, the ground was cursed and we needed farmers. After sin, the toilet became plugged and we needed plumbers.
While we were not created to be workers, we have no choice. You have to work to survive. Even though the following points will illustrate how we can used our skills and services to please God, we should never mistakenly identify our purpose as … “being the best mechanic to ever walk this planet”. Your original purpose is to glorify God.
- If your work is fulfilling and provides wealth, consider it a blessing from God
When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
Basically, what this verse says to me is that if God has blessed you with a skill that you enjoy and a job that provides more than you need, then you shouldn’t be ashamed. There’s no need to go hide your successes under a rock. Instead, you should embrace the success and roll it into God’s plan for your life. If God has given you more than you need, then how can you use it for your original purpose: to glorify God?
- Workers support the Church
We all know that God has instructed us to give 10% of our work to the church as tithe. Have you ever thought about what your tithe enables your church to do? First and foremost, you put food on your pastor’s plate so that he can feed YOU. We all need spiritual food to continue growing in our relationship with God, and the church is one source of food. But more than your own selfish needs, look at the other ministries in your church to see what your work is enabling.
Look at your church’s involvement in the community. The church is able to reach many more people each week (through children’s services, youth groups, and community outreaches) than you could come into contact with on your own. Next, look at your church’s work abroad. Missionaries rely on the support of churches so that they can take God’s word to the ends of the earth.
Chances are that the tithe from your work alone cannot enable all of this to happen. But when a whole group of workers join together and form a church, amazing things can be accomplished for God’s kingdom. God’s church needs workers, and lots of them!
- God commands us to work wholeheartedly at whatever we do
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23)
The Bible is clear to honor honest, hard, trustworthy work. This isn’t the ultimate purpose of the Bible, but it is an important aspect of our relationship with God. God commands us to work hard when no one is looking, to be honest when everyone else is cheating to get ahead, and to do all these things with reverence, or worship, for the Lord.
I think this command extends beyond our workplace and into our homes and communities. When you are stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store, do so with all of you heart. Do so as if you are working for the Lord. What does that look like?
- Paul was a tentmaker, Jesus was a carpenter
I like this bullet point a lot because it is part of the Bible that we often forget about. Jesus was a carpenter. Do you think he built strong buildings that withstood the test of time? Paul was a tentmaker. Would you leave your tent with Paul and trust him it fix it in time for your trip the next day? (okay, I don’t really know what tentmakers did)
My point is that each of these heroes possessed skills that allowed them to interact with, understand, and earn respect from the people in their community. While we remember them for their ministry, their professional skills/work undoubtedly influenced the effectiveness of what they accomplished for God. Paul was able to find work in every city he travelled to because he possessed a skill, and he must have built a reputation for being good at it. Might I add Luke into the mix–Luke was a doctor (I think) and his skills as a physician and for writing precise medical notes (I’m sure that was the most exciting part of his job) provided us with two beautifully ordered and detailed books of the bible: Gospel of Luke and Acts. These men used their professional skills to further the kingdom of God.
The true reason I chose Jesus and Paul for the bullet title is because both men represent uniquely different approaches to ministry. Jesus stopped working as a carpenter so he could devote all of his time to ministry. Paul chose to minister and spread the Gospel while he continued to work full-time as a tentmaker. There’s a lot more to write about lay ministry, which wouldn’t fit in my post. But right now, I wanted to identify two different approaches to ministry that are modeled for us in the Bible.
- A Lesson in Semantics (God doesn’t need us, we need HIM)
I want to end this article with a final caution about the danger of your work. Throughout this article, I’ve thrown around terms like “God needs” and “God wants” and “Your skills enable God to do _______”. I use these terms loosely to communicate my thoughts, and I’ll end with the cold, hard truth–just so there’s no confusion.
The truth is that God doesn’t need any of us. God doesn’t need missionary doctors to spread his Gospel around the world. God isn’t dependent on a “God-fearing United States of America” to fund His missions. God isn’t waiting for a church full of skilled and wealthy professionals to get on fire and change their community.
David Platt, author of Radical, states his conclusion about God’s power, “… The church I lead could have the least gifted people, the least talented people, the fewest leaders, and the least money, and this church under the power of the Holy Spirit could still shake the nations for his glory.”
The final truth I want to share with you is that WE NEED God. No amount of works, or skill, or knowledge can quench our need for God. This study on works isn’t about boosting our power or our own abilities. It’s about learning to use the skills and talents that God has given you to further his kingdom and to serve his purpose.