I can certainly relate to this article as for many years I thought I was doing quite well while at best only living my faith on Sunday . . . As I strive to live a more Godly life this post was insightful and reminding . . . thanks Mark.
I just did an article for an online journal not long ago. Thought I’d blog it.
According to Stephen Graves and Thomas Addington, the average person will spend 100,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime. And yet, as Graves and Addington observe in their book, The Fourth Frontier, “What sermons have we heard lately about the inherent value and beauty of work? Mysteriously, an aura of silence surrounds the God ordained institution of work.
“Too many Christians seem content with weekend faith. Their faith is practiced in the comfortable confines of a church sanctuary for ninety minutes on Sunday. Certainly we’re called to more than that. Going to church never has been and never will be the end goal. We have a benediction at National Community Church that reminds NCCers of that fact: when you leave this place you don’t leave the presence of God, you take the presence of God with you wherever you go.
If the church is going to impact culture, we need to view the workplace as the mission field where our faith is lived out. We need a weekday faith that walks the talk nine to five, Monday to Friday.
A Theology of Work
If you look in the Oxford English Dictionary, you’ll find seventy-three definitions of work. Let me add a few more to the mix.
Work /’werk/ n 1: a form of stewardship 2: a form of worship 3: a God-ordained calling4: a strategic mission field
1: a form of stewardshipLet me dispel a theological myth. Work is not a result of the curse. In fact, the first thing God does after creating Adam is put him to work in Genesis 2:15:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
According to psychologists, two of our most compelling needs are the need for love and the need to work. Studies have shown that mortality rates escalate right after retirement–it’s referred to as Early Retirement Death. When people feel like their work is done, they die.
Have you ever heard the old saying: on their deathbed, no one wishes they’d spent more time at the office? It’s not true. The last utterance of the French composer, Ravel, was “I still had so much music to write.” American inventor James Eads said, “I cannot die! I have not finished my work!”
I know that workaholism is a serious problem in America. In too many instances, work becomes home and home becomes work. And we have to put family first. But we also have to recognize that hard work honors God. In fact, it is one way we fulfill the Great Commandment and love God with all of our strength.
2: a form of worship
In his best-selling book, What Color is Your Parachute?, author Richard Bolles says, “The story in the Gospels of Jesus going up on the mount and being transfigured before the disciples is to me a picture of what calling is all about: taking mundane tasks and figuring out how to transfigure them.”
Transfiguring mundane tasks! That’s the message of I Corinthians 10:31:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.
What could be more mundane than eating and drinking? But even the most mundane tasks can be transfigured into an act of worship! Work is a noble thing and we must do it with an excellence that honors God. I have a feeling that Jesus viewed carpentry as part of his ministry. His craftsmanship was a form of worship.
In the words of Dorothy Sayers: “No crooked table legs or ill-fitted drawers ever, I dare say, came out of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.”
One key to staying motivated, especially when you’re doing mundane tasks, is connecting the dots between work and worship. You’ve got to remind yourself that you aren’t just working for your boss. You’re working for the Boss. And when you do what you do to glorify God, work is transformed into worship.
3: a God-ordained calling
I think the church has allowed a false dichotomy between secular and sacred to creep into our worldview. We have divided occupations into spiritual and non-spiritual when, the truth is, every Christian ought to pursue their career as a God-ordained calling. Doctors ought to feel just as called to medicine as pastors who feel called to ministry. So should teachers and politicians and artists and administrators.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven will pause to say, ‘There lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.”
Colossians 3:23 applies to every occupation:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
Your job ought to be more than a portfolio and a paycheck. It ought to be a God-ordained passion. And if it isn’t, you owe it to yourself and you owe it to God to quit your position and pursue your passion!
4: a strategic mission field
In his book, Roaring Lambs, Bob Briner reflects on missionary conventions he went to as a child where people were challenged to commit themselves to missions. And thank God for missionaries and missionary conventions! But maybe we need to expand our definition of a missionary to include Christians who are called into culture-shaping professions like journalism, entertainment, education, business, and politics.
Bob Briner says, “I envision a whole generation who will lay claim to these careers with the same vigor and commitment that sent men like Hudson Taylor to China.”
The church needs to commission writers and actors and entrepreneurs and politicians just like we do pastors!A few months ago, I got an email from an NCCer who said she felt like God wanted her to open a clothing store. She got the vision for the store during a worship event we call Catacombs. She had dreamed of opening a store for a long time, but in the context of worship, she started getting God ideas and she knew it was time to quit her job and chase her dream. A lot of NCCers rallied around her, and one of the coolest clothing stores in Washington, DC, opened its doors one month ago. Check out Redeem.
I guess you could argue that clothing is non-spiritual, but I would beg to differ. Maybe wearing your faith is one way of sharing your faith?
No matter what you do or where you work: your workplace is your mission field.
posted by Mark Batterson
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