Can you guess what the following statistics (from Karl Thompson) have reference to? It’s something that occupies:
- 14 % of your total life,
- 21 % of your total waking hours,
- 23.3% of your life during the years you’re actually you’re doing this,
- 35% of your waking hours during those years you’re doing this,
- 50% of your total waking hours on the days you do this.
If you said raising children, being at school, or being on your phone—that’s not it. If you said “work,” you are right!
Work has been around as long as people have. When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a garden “to work and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). It was here before we were, and it will be here after we are gone. Work is a big part of the Thessalonian correspondence (1 2:9, 4:11-12, 5:14; 2 3:6-11) and it is a big part of our life.
Work is the rent we pay for living on this planet. It’s what we do to provide ourselves (and others) with what we must have to live (food, clothing, shelter and Wi-Fi).
We have mixed emotions about work—we love it, we hate it, it’s boring, it’s unbelievable—and that’s all before lunch. We’re not paid enough, appreciated enough, and we’re asked to do way too much. We love the people we work with, but sometimes (bless their heart), they don’t see things with the clarity that we do, and they don’t seem to recognize that if we weren’t there the place would close its doors tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, when we’re finally done with work for the day, we get home and what’s the first thing we talk about . . . what happened at work! It’s complicated. We’re complicated. Work is complicated.
Let’s simplify things.
Work can be rich and meaningful if we recognize it is an important way of serving God and others. There are several texts that point in this direction: Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:17; 3:22ff (though the last one needs to be worked with a bit). Still, the thrust of them is clear—our work for and with others is work for God! Compartmentalizing our work from our lives as disciples is unhealthy and out of sync with Scripture.
If you’ve never thought of work in this way—it is tremendously liberating. No one has to retire or resign in order to enter the ministry—our workplace is our ministry!
Where do we begin in implementing this truth? Let me suggest three things that can help us live out this reality:
- Invite God to be part of the work we do. (He’s already there, of course, but He longs to be involved at the deepest level and He’s waiting to be asked).
- Offer the work we do to Him. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17).
- Recognize He is sovereign over our work. We like to think otherwise but we work where we work and as long as we work at His good pleasure.
Are you working for the Lord?