Blog - Grasping Vocation

A Popular Website Asks: Why Hold a Job?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

This question headlined the web page: "What is the purpose of working or holding down a job?” Naturally, given the theme of this website, it caught my attention. What kinds of answers would the readers of Yahoo! Answers come up with?

The asker elaborated on the question by adding: "I've heard some people assert that we work to provide what we as individuals or as families need. But I wonder if there are not other reasons for secular work.”

At the time I visited the site, ten readers had responded—several with multiple answers. At that point, the "best answer” was, "I don't know, but im [sic] sick of work.” It came as no surprise that making money to pay for food, toys, taxes, and survival topped the list. Maintaining an orderly society appeared four times in the answers. Two answers touched on keeping people busy and thus out of trouble. Other answers: defining ourselves, providing choices, and giving us something to talk or complain about.

These responses, of course, did not come from any scientific survey. But they did send me off on a train of thought. I recall reading the results of a Barna survey which revealed that only nine percent of born-again Christians held a biblical worldview. The questions and answers in this Yahoo! Answers page involved not an entire worldview but a workview. And the responses made it clear that those who replied had anything but a biblical workview.

My thought-train took me to the next stop, another question: "How many born-again Christians hold a biblical workview?” Yes, some of the scriptural reasons for working overlap with the responses listed above. For most people, God does provide through work an income to meet our physical needs. And Christians, too, should work to help maintain an orderly society.

But what percentage of born-again believers consciously get up and go to work because they know they are made in the likeness of the God who revealed himself first as a Worker? How many evangelicals still suspect God put people to work because Adam and Eve sinned? Do most Christians go to work to obey God's First Commission—the "Creation Mandate”—taking responsibility and caring for his earth under his direction?

That train of thought sped on. If the Answers! Yahoo site is even close to representing the typical motivations for working, what a challenge that represents for us as Christians. The very way we do our work, our attitude toward those in authority, our integrity with expense accounts, and so on, should make it clear that our motivations for working come from outside the work world. And that kind of example, as time passes, should cause co-workers, clients, students, patients, etc., to ask questions. Answering such questions breaks no federal, state, or local laws.

But if most Christians get up and go to work with a workview nearly the same as that held by unbelievers, if we just "blend in,” we should not be surprised if no one asks us those questions.

This train got underway with a question, so I'll end with one: "What is the best way to equip believers with a biblical workview that will revolutionize their reasons for holding a job?”

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