Blog - Grasping Vocation
Is Your Job too Small?Friday, July 01, 2011
"Most of us . . . have jobs that are too small for our spirit,” Nora Watson told Studs Terkel, who quoted her in the introduction to his book, Working (p. xxiv). "I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job,” she said. Nora’s words must have struck a nerve, because other writers by the hundreds continue to quote them.
Some jobs may indeed be too small. But could it be that the main problem lies with the way we see our work? Has our vision of everyday work shriveled? As a Christian, I should not expect to find meaning in my job. Instead, I should be bringing the meaning to my work.
How did our vision of work dwindle to a size too small for our spirits? The false line drawn between "sacred” and "secular” work explains much of the shrinkage. That distortion implies that God has little if any interest in the work that occupies the best waking hours of most Christians. This squeezes believers into compartmentalizing their lives into Sunday’s best versus all the rest.
How can you enlarge the vision of your work? By taking time to reflect on the big picture, the roles of God as we see them in Scripture. Consider, for example, of how God has revealed himself as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Completer (or Finisher). Although each involves a different activity of God, every one of them reflects his care of, rule over, and work for his creation.
In his work as Creator, God made everything. Then he made us in his own image. One of the first statements of what that includes, tells us that we—made in God’s likeness—are to rule over the creation. Ruling the earth under God’s rule, in all the forms that takes, makes up our human work. (Gen. 1:26)
In his work as Sustainer, God’s rule is seen in his providing for and maintaining his creation. Through our work as his image-bearers, God continues to provide food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities for our fellow human beings and the animals. Our work also includes care for the earth itself. (Heb. 1:3; Tit. 3:14)
In his work as Redeemer, God has taken dominion over the death-dealing forces of sin and Satan in sending his Son into the world to live, die, rise again, and ascend to rule his Kingdom (now accessible to us believers). In our work, in both deed and word, God has given us the privilege of extending the awareness of his redemptive work worldwide. (II Cor. 5:18-19)
In his work as Completer, God—in spite of the evil forces—will bring everything under the rule of his Son, who then hands it all over to his Father. And even then, though still shrouded in much mystery, our work will involve co-ruling with him. (I Cor. 15:24-25; Rev. 5:10)
The first and last chapters of the Bible both speak of man’s co-rule with God. In Genesis 1:26: "Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” And in Revelation 22:5: "And they will reign [rule] for ever and ever.” (emphasis added in each verse)
We accomplish a major part of our God-given ruling roles through our daily work. Made in the likeness of God, the sovereign King, we too were made for kingly responsibilities. Do you spend your weeks as an accountant or a zookeeper (or anything in between)? Enlarge your vision. Reflect on how your work, small as it may seem, fits into the grand strategy of the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Completer of all that is.