Do you see your work as an opportunity to serve God?
Some workers—such as those in overt ministry roles (e.g., pastors, missionaries) or those in helping professions (e.g., teachers, nurses)—seem to have an easier answer to this question.
But what about other professions? How, for example, may plumbers, engineers, writers, carpenters, accountants, programmers, electricians, lawyers, and call center employees see their work as an opportunity to serve God?
Most of us devote upward of 100,000 hours of our lives to work. The significance and meaning of these hours matters. Is this 100,000-hour investment of our lives disconnected from our life of faith, or do these hours connect meaningfully with who we are as persons of faith? In what way is our work a means to living out a vocational call on our lives—a means to serving God in and through our work?
Celebrating Every Good Endeavor
I just returned from a conference hosted by the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. What an encouraging time to see how the people of Redeemer Presbyterian are guiding their congregation and city in reflection on innovation and meaningful faith-work integration.
For those new to this conversation, Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf, both of Redeemer Presbyterian, have written a helpful book on the topic of faith and work entitled Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.
Setting the stage for their discussion in Every Good Endeavor, Tim and Katherine propose a diverse set of convictions and pose the question of whether these convictions are opposed to one another or complementary. They note:
The way to serve God at work is to…
- Further social justice in the world
- Be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues
- Do skillful, excellent work
- Create beauty
- Work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end
- Work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs
- Do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion
- Make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can
Engaging this list, Keller and Leary Alsdorf note that it is problematic if we add the word “main” to any of the above statements (e.g., “The main way to serve God at work is to…”). Each of these serve as a way serve God through our work rather than representing the way to serve God in our work. They additionally emphasize that depending on one’s particular vocational path, cultural context, and historical moment, the way we live these convictions out will look different.
A Means for Joyful Exploration
In light of such observations, connecting our work to God’s work becomes a means for joyful exploration rather than burdensome obligation. Our work does matter to God. Our work is a means to serve God. The opportunity in front of us is to explore how our particular role is an opportunity to serve God in and through our work.
Toward this end, I find that the above list is a helpful prompt.
In what ways is my work an opportunity to …
- …. further social justice
- … be honest
- … share the gospel
- … work with excellence
- … create beauty
- … glorify God
- … work with gratitude and joy
- … be generous?
How will you serve God through your work? How will you invest the 100,000-hour opportunity in your life?