Many questions I’ve gotten over the years about work steer toward my decision to leave the business world and to go into full-time work in a church. One question I get the most is, “Jeff, let us know your decision making process of how you chose to go into full-time ministry.” While I totally get and appreciate the question, I think it shows a flawed understanding of theology of work. The reality for me and you as believers is no matter what we are doing right now you are in full-time ministry. Just because I chose to become a pastor with the responsibilities of the role doesn’t mean this was my start to full-time ministry. The truth is that no matter the work you do, you do it all for the glory of God. Do it with all your heart because it is Christ who you work for in the end. I don’t care what you do, congratulations, you are in full-time ministry.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to put a Bible verse on everything. One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther is this: “The Christian shoemaker does the work of God, not by putting little crosses on the shoe that he makes, but because God loves great craftsmanship. Or the maid who sweeps the floor is doing the work of God, not because she sings Christian hymns as she sweeps, but because God loves clean floors.” I love this idea of work Luther mentions. In all honesty, when understanding the theology of work, it was not given to us as a curse. If you study Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve, work was actually given before everything fell apart as a gift to us. Our work is important to God so whatever that we do, we do with all our hearts for the glory of God because it is Christ who we work for in the end.
The other thing I want you to understand is God’s thumbprint is on us. How He’s crafted you, shaped you, created you show God’s thumbprints are on you and they show His plans for you. The more you understand how you’ve been uniquely wired, the more you understand your strengths and your gifts. You will better position yourself to leverage work as an opportunity for you to glorify God for you. Use that opportunity to continue taking steps forward and living out the story God has written for you.
How can you understand these Godly thumbprints? One way is to go to the people around you, who know you best. Ask them, “Hey, as you look at my work, what do you think I’m really good at? What do you think brings me to life? As you look at my life and my background and experience, what are the ways you’ve seen God’s thumbprints on me? Where do you think I am best positioned?” You and I being more curious about how we’ve been crafted and created is really important and it’s a stewardship responsibility. That’s why I am also a huge proponent of leveraging skill sets or taking personality tests that reveal to you how you’re wired, to give ideas of what area of work you really lean into and thrive. Again, I would encourage you to find those thumbprints on you because no matter where you go or do it’s an opportunity to glorify God. That’s why you’re breathing. Jesus said “It’s to the Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.”
The other thing we need to understand about work is the purpose of our lives at work. What is the purpose of work? A lot of people when you ask, “What’s the purpose of work?” they haven’t even thought about it. I totally understand not thinking about it because we kind of start work at a part-time job in high school then we just work for the rest of our lives and maybe never paused to ask “What is the purpose of this?” Maybe you start to list them: we gotta pay the bills, it gives us our identity, it allows us to go on great vacations, all these great things! None of that is wrong but ultimately that’s not the purpose of work. The scripture teaches us this purpose which is the purpose of your life at work is to show God at work in your life.
The purpose of your life at work doesn’t mean you have to wear Christian t-shirts or have to pull into work with a Christian bumper sticker on your car. What it does mean is that excellence matters, humility is really important, doing you’re very best, understanding how you’ve been created (those thumbprints), leading and serving people incredibly well, and showing up and going the 2nd and 3rd mile. I don’t know if I believe in a 5,10,15 year plan but what I do believe in is that God will take you where you are in your faithful stewardship and move you forward. My dad used to say this, “God is watching to see who is faithful and He rewards you one step at a time.”
When it comes to being authentic at work we have to understand this, congratulations you’re in full-time ministry as a follower of Jesus. Work is a fantastic platform to share the story of God through your work. You have to understand the purpose of your life at work which is to show that God is at work in your life.
Thanks for what you’re doing, thanks for going to work, thanks for showing up. And if no one else seems to be paying attention, you know this: God is. Or as my dad also used to say,”Do the next right thing at work because God is paying attention.”
Lead Pastor, Gwinnett Church
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