By David Gill, reprinted from The 313.
This question comes up all the time: what kind of work should I do, especially if I want to honor God and be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?
Yes, we should pray for guidance and listen to the counsel of our brothers and sisters. We probably review the academic and study possibilities—and the various job prospects in the market. We might look at the reputations of different companies and industries. It’s all good.
But there is an even more foundational question we need to ask, not about ourselves, but about God. What kind of work does God do in our world? We are not God, but for two reasons this is our most important question about work. First, it is our calling (all of us) to “walk in the ways of the Lord.” Not just a calling and invitation but a command. Not just a command but an opportunity. With whatever personal gifts, abilities, and education we have, we determine to be ”godly,” to follow, to participate in, even to assist in God’s work in the world. Second, it is in our “nature” as men and women made in the image and likeness of God to work in the ways of God. Of course, we are finite and fallen creatures—but that divine “image and likeness” remain. We not only glorify and serve God by working in his ways, we find our true, intended humanity as we do so. There is joy, meaning, and satisfaction as we participate in God’s work—no matter our job or employer.
What does this “philosophy of work” look like? I suggest that it is expressed in seven ways. Whatever our job or employer, Christians can and should pursue seven roles or impacts, empowered by God’s Spirit, guided by Scripture and the example of God incarnate, Jesus Christ, and accompanied by our brothers and sisters. First, we should work as creator/producers of good, useful, and beautiful things and services. Sometimes this is about innovation but it is also more generally about production. It is about cultivating, tending, and harvesting God’s earthly, creational potential—always in ways that reflect and honor our Creator, in ways our Creator can call “good” and “very good.” Genesis 1 and 2 lay the foundation for our understanding but the whole Bible shows us the ways of God’s work as creator/producer. How can we show those ways wherever we work?
Second, we should work as sustainers of the good that has been created/produced. God does not just create—and walk away. Like God, we should “uphold” and “sustain” the earth (God’s creation), the people (our fellow workers, customers, neighbors), and the good, useful, and beautiful things and services God and we have made. Third, we should work as wisdom givers sharing godly counsel, common earthly sense, realism and hope. Think of how many pages of Scripture are “wisdom literature” (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and scattered throughout both Testaments). God does it. Walking in his ways means that is our role at work as well. Fourth, we should work as justice advocates. The biblical prophets stand out for their unrelenting condemnation of unfairness, injustice, and unrighteousness as God inspires them. But it is not just the official prophets and law-givers. Throughout the Bible God and his people carry out this work. Who will stand up and speak up for fairness, justice, and righteousness at work? Wherever we work, that is a crucial part of our work agenda.
Fifth, we work as redeemers, following in God’s footsteps—liberating and freeing those in various kinds of bondage—healing the afflicted, hurting, injured, and suffering—comforting and lifting up the broken—reconciling the alienated and divided. Of course, this includes helping the lost to find salvation in the Lord but it goes way beyond that facilitation of new births. We know this because we see it in God’s work throughout Scripture. God doesn’t just create and sustain good things, he fixes broken things and people. And because that is a major aspect of God’s work, it falls to us as well. Sixth, we work as finishers. God doesn’t stop his work half-way. He brings his work to a completion. He is not just the Alpha but the Omega, the First and also the Last. So too, in our work, we are called to persist and finish, in a God-honoring way, the projects to which God has assigned us.
Seventh, God rests from those previous six work tasks. There is no good work without good rest. In our own work lives and in our influence on our organizations, fellow workers, we must be the practitioners and advocates of appropriate, regular non-work rest time. Disconnect. Rest.
Workers following in these ways of God’s work can have an extraordinary “salting” and “lighting” impact on our marketplace and world. This is the way of personal blessing. It is the way of faithfulness to God and producing glory to our heavenly Father.