Why does work have to feel so much like… work? Whether we are bagging groceries, taking care of children, cooking food, serving at church, or running a company, we find ourselves glancing over at the clock now and then to see how much longer until our shift is over. Is it Friday yet? And work can be hard and boring and get in the way of our social calendars. Ok, great, we were “created to work,” but ever since Adam and Eve messed up and got us all permanently evicted from the Garden of Eden, it doesn’t seem like such a natural fit after all. While we can never go back to the Garden and always enjoy easy, fulfilling work, the good news is we can do something about our mindset towards work.
We simply need to be renewed. “Renewed? From what? And what does that even mean?” you might ask. Well, our very minds and souls need an overhaul. Our broken and faulted selves just cannot do work the way it was intended for us nor for the right reasons. Renewal is a putting off of our old selves, and putting on new ones. Putting off falsehood and putting on truthfulness. Putting off sinful anger, and putting on the resolve to swiftly and lovingly deal with an issue. Putting off stealing from others and putting on hard, honest, and honorable work to where we can even share with others. Putting off talk that tears down and put on speech that builds up and imparts grace. Putting off toxic emotion and communication and putting on kindness and tenderheartedness. Our brokenness hinders us from fully utilizing our unique, God-given set of gifts and talents.
We begin the renewal process when we stop living for ourselves and start living for God. Accepting that Jesus died for our sins and making Him Lord of our lives is certainly the beginning, but when we start being obedient to what He calls us to do and trusting that He will take care of the rest, that’s when this journey of renewal starts getting good. God is going to orchestrate our lives. He’s going to start molding and shaping us into the awesome people He specifically designed each one of us to become (Psalm 139:13-16) even if we can’t always see it during the shaping process. Some areas of our lives will be pliable and easy to adjust, and others are going to require a lot more work, a lot more friction, and a lot more time. Have you made that decision to call Jesus Lord and to trust Him to lead your life?
As soon as we call Jesus our Lord, God sends us a Helper to pave the way and to help keep our heads in the game. This Helper, the Holy Spirit, will fill the gap when we aren’t able, will be our conscience when we come to the hard decisions (and the easy bad ones), will influence those around us to help us, and will fill us with joy and peace when the situations we find ourselves in don’t typically warrant those feelings. He will help us to do the things we should do and not do the things we shouldn’t. He will honor our integrity when we think a simple “white lie” would save our job. He will honor our selfless giving of time or money when we think we cannot afford it. He will honor our love for our least favorite co-worker when anger, revenge, and gossip feel so much better.
Translating this renewal specifically to our work identities, we should strive to do hard, honest, and honorable work. We should stand out in our field of work. God created us to be amazing, and focusing that towards the work we do and who we do it for is a game-changer for how we see work going forward. Worship God every day by working as if you were employed by Him. Are you good at and enjoy making food? Find a job you can do exactly that and make the food as if you were feeding God Himself. How about furniture? Make the best, most sturdy and attractive tables and chairs you can possibly make. Electrician? Doctor? Take the time to study and practice your craft. Be known as someone trustworthy, hard-working, and knowledgeable. Don’t have a job or are unable to work? Volunteer or serve somewhere doing what you can, owning the work you’re given, and constantly challenge yourself to take those skills to the next level. God will honor this right attitude about work. You may get a promotion or a better-fit position. You may find people wanting to hire you on the side because they know you would do a great job and bill them fairly. You may get fired for doing the right thing. (Do you truly trust God to honor your obedience and work even this out for your good? Might be time for some molding and shaping.)
Renewal is a life-long process, and it’s not an easy one. We have to decide to begin the journey, to do our part along the way, to trust God to help us with the rest, and to believe that God has a destination in mind that we actually desire to reach with every fiber of our being – even if our path doesn’t always seem to be heading the right way.
- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23
- “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
- “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be as well. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:26
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Psalms 139:13-16