Discovering God’s Purpose and Pleasure in Work:
Does God delight in the work you do? Is there purpose even in the mundane tasks? In the following article, Pastor Keith addresses the tension, pitfalls, and redemption that can be found in both the “secular” and ministry-based work place.
Single-Minded Devotion in all Areas of Life
The workplace is oftentimes an area of the Christian life that is relegated to the role of financial necessity, which never-the-less informs our attitude and approach to the workplace, our co-workers, supervisors, and ultimately the quality of our work. Prior to my role in pastoral ministry, I too was employed within the “secular” workforce, laboring hours a day in what I often thought was the less-than noble task of retail management. And I bet that many of you view the workplace as a thankless necessity unavoidable if you wish to provide for your family, and not necessarily the sacred responsibility of a follower of Christ. However, before humanity was cursed through the fall of Adam, work was instituted by God, insofar as Adam was commanded by God to work and take care of the Garden (Genesis 2:15). As such, we find that every aspect of our lives is important to God, from the mundane tasks of our everyday jobs, to worshipping God with our church family on Sundays, God has a purpose for your work.
The Practical Importance of Work:
Obviously work is an incredibly practical and important endeavor in the life of a Christian. It is the primary means by which one sustains the physical needs of their life by providing income to feed, clothe, house, and recreate. Moreover, it is often the area, outside of our homes, that we spend the most amount of our time, and provides the primary environment of engagement with unbelievers. Therefore the workplace is a mission field for believers, where the gospel must shape our work-ethic, interaction with others, and sub-ordinance to our leaders.1 Finally, each of us are priests, and have a priestly calling to fulfill.
Our Priestly Calling:
The apostle Peter declares that we who are in Christ are a holy priesthood proclaiming praise to God for bringing us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:4-9). Adam too was a priest, he lived in the first tabernacle—the place that God’s presence dwelt—and was called to work, and in essence expand or widen the Garden. And as such, he would be spreading the glory of God into the darkness beyond the Garden through his work.2 In the same way, our priestly calling can be applied to the workplace, and God’s missional call upon our lives to spread the glory of God wherever He places us, and to do so with abounding thankfulness for the grace that He has bestowed upon us. But, Adam failed in this endeavor—he fell asleep at the wheel—and allowed the serpent to come into his workplace, and wreak havoc. In essence, he did not heed the weight of his call as God’s priestly worker. We must learn from Adam’s mistake, and not allow the sin of complacency to seep into our work-ethic.2
Our Fight Against Complacency:
We understand the detriment of Adam’s complacency, and let us not kid ourselves that our complacent attitudes will result in the fall of all of humanity. Rather, in light of this we can understand the weight of our work, the purpose that God has placed on that aspect of our lives, and the pleasure He takes in being made much of in the world. God has called you to be engaged, has called you to be a force, and has called you to spread His glory wherever you are. And this includes every aspect of your life, and even more so at the workplace. Therefore the challenge stands before you, how will you overcome complacency, and understand the weight of your work? How will you remain engaged in the mundane tasks, and the difficult relationships of the workplace? One must only look towards the great price that our Savior paid, and the depth of grace that was poured out on His followers at the Cross, in order to gain insight into His love of the unlovable. Let the message of the gospel inform, and empower you to respond, in order that you will make much of God’s glory within your workplace through not only words, but rather your actions.
Article by Keith Rodriguez
1Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor (New York, NY: Dutton, 2012) p. 166
2Benjamin L. Gladd and Matthew S. Harmon, Making All Things New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2016) p. 154