Some Thoughts on Work

So I feel like I should be writing about the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday. But I’m not going to write about it, mostly because I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said far better than I ever could. Check out Beth and Ken Flowers’ blog, or the Desiring God blog for some good thoughts regarding the shooting.

But I will talk about work. Yesterday I listened to a really great/convicting/encouraging sermon on work by Tim Keller. It really helped me to think through what I do, why I should be thankful for what I do, and why I should try and do something else. He borrowed Dorothy Sayers’ definition of work, “Work is the gracious expression of creative energy in the service of others.” Then he gave two practical guidelines for work.

The first was that the functional reason we should do any job is because it helps other people. This could be doing road cleaning, data entry, secretarial work, or being the VP of a company. Helping people is not primarily about status. But many of us take a job because it will pay us a lot of money or give us a significant status- not necessarily because it will serve others. Also, this means that if we are not working, we are not loving others. Instead we are a drain to society and to the church. Please hear this: being a student is a vocation, being a wife and mother is a vocation, being a missionary or a pastor is a vocation. These people are not drains to the church. They are investing in the kingdom through the work they do, although it may not always be monetarily. But if you are free to work, and can work, then you have every reason to be working so that you may help others in the work you do, and invest your money in the Kingdom of God and thereby lay up treasures in heaven.

Secondly, we should strive for quiet, strive for rest. One outworking of this is that when you are not working, you are disquiet. So you should work so that you may rest. Also, the work that we do should quiet us because it fits with our “insides.” What are the “insides?” Our abilities, talents, passions, interests, and desires.

This freed me from thinking that work is primarily about providing for myself. That certainly is one of the benefits of work, but work becomes real draining real quick when it’s only about being able to write the rent check each month. It also freed me from the guilt I often feel when I can’t provide for myself and have to ask my parents for help. God taught me a great (and humbling) lesson yesterday through the merciful help of my parents, once again. But more on that later. Finally, it freed me from believing that I should do a job that is hard for me to do because it is hard for me to do. It’s good and right to want to do something that is in line with my passions and talents and giftedness and desires. That’s not wrong to desire.

So stick that in your back pocket.

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