On Tuesday I had the opportunity to talk at an event called “Does Your Job Matter?” It was about the importance of not separating your life into distinct faith and work categories, but to live more holistically. Here’s the second of three posts, recapping what I talked about:
That question: “Why does your job matter?” has a 3-part answer:
1) It brings you in contact with the world: Your job gives you allows you to have a voice in the world: In Matthew 5:13-14 Jesus says we are to be the "salt and the light" and John 17, where we get the concept that we are to be "in the world, not of the world."
Salt has a number of purposes - to preserve, to give flavor, and to disinfect. For salt to actually work, it has to come in contact with the item it’s trying to impact. For Christians to have a say in shaping the culture, we must be in the culture. And we have to be in it excellently. When we limit excellent Christian writers or teachers or artists, to write, teach or create only for Christian populations, we lose the opportunity for a strong God-fearing voice to influence the discussion.
2) Your job is an act of worship: We usually think of worship as singing, but worship is the act of taking any gifts you’ve been given and using them to glorify Christ. It’s an act of devotion. I haven’t been given musical gifts – the people who stand in front of me at church can vouch for that – but I have been given administrative gifts and management gifts and I use those as an offering back to God.
As for worship: I used this graph to make the point that if you think you can only worship God at church or during your weekly small group - you’re missing out. Don't just restrict worshipping God to your free time (which is already chock full of so many other things). Expand your view of worship and realize that work allows you to commune with and honor God.
3) The work itself is important: There’s a school of thought that says that Christians are to be in the world for the purpose of setting up the gospel. In their book God is at Work, Douglass Sherman and William Hendricks refer to that worldview as the “Strategic Soapbox” Model. “Christians should work in secular jobs primarily as a strategy for evangelism. If you adopt this Strategic Soapbox model for your life, you redefine your job description. You are no longer a doctor, a teacher, or a salesperson. Rather, you become an evangelist in the field of medicine, education, or marketing.”
After they identify the model, they debunk it, saying: “Your work matters to God. Work is not something beneath God's dignity or concern, as some contend. Nor is work a game we play with non-Christians in order to accomplish a more important agenda… work is a major part of human life that God takes seriously.”
Work isn’t just some way of infiltrating the world and evangelizing. The work you do itself has value.
There is the cerebral & scientific Michael Faraday - amazing what he did with electricity. But honestly, I want the person who comes to my house to service my air conditioning unit to be honest, hardworking, and safe - those are all things Christians should be bringing to the professional world. So whether you're a scientist or a home repair specialist - the work you're doing is important.
Jeremiah 29 is an often-quoted chapter of the Bible. It’s most known for verse 11: “For I know the thoughts that I have towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Or verse 13 “and you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” But, in that very same letter that Jeremiah wrote to the captives, verse 7 says “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Business contributes to the peace and prosperity of a community and should be a part of the package of things we as Christians offer to the world.