Photo Credit: Work, Wacky Toyo Boy Borj, Flickr
Adding Value to the Lives of Others
Work takes many forms. At its core, work is anything that we do to add value to the lives of others. In contrast to this, play and recreation tend to be things focused on adding value to our own lives.
Sometimes we add value to the lives of others on the job when we are compensated in one form or another for our work. Other times, we add value to the lives of others through volunteer service or through the work we do for our family and friends.
Practicing the Presence of God in Our Work
As I was engaged in this last type of work (cleaning up dishes at home this weekend), my mind was draw to Brother Lawrence and his focus on “practicing the presence of God” in all of life and work. Here’s a link to some of his reflections (The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life).
One of the prayers attributed to Brother Lawrence emphasizes 3 reasons that God cares about your work. Here’s my summary of these 3 reasons:
1. God Wants to Mold You in Your Work
First, God cares about your work because God wants to mold you and shape you through your work. He wants to form and change you through serving others and adding value to their lives. On this point, Brother Lawrence prayed,
“Lord of all pots and pans and things…
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.”
Through our work, God molds our character and values. Through our work, we are developed not only professionally but also personally. God uses work for our professional, personal, and spiritual formation. He uses work to change us for the better.
2. God Wants to Meet You in Your Work
Second, God cares about your work because God cares about you. For many Christians, there is a tendency to separate our lives of weekend worship from weekday work. But God is not interested in just meeting you on Sunday morning (or whenever you gather for worship). God wants to meet you on Monday morning as well. He wants to meet with you and have you recognize His presence with you in your work. On this point, Brother Lawrence prayed,
“Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.”
You can join Brother Lawrence in asking God to Warm all the kitchen / office / garage / home / school / shop / etc. with His Love, and light it with His peace. Ask God for wisdom on the job (James 1:5). Talk with him about the opportunities and challenges you face. When worried or anxious about something you are facing, offer this emotion up to the Lord and invite Him to replace this with His peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Look for God to meet you in your work.
3. God Wants to Minister through You in Your Work
Finally, God cares about your work because God wants to minister through you to others. Work is one of the main pathways we add value to the lives of those around us. On this point, Brother Lawrence prayed,
“Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee. Amen.”
As Brother Lawrence notes, Jesus not only met people’s spiritual needs, but He also met physical needs for food. We serve similar needs for one another through our work. God not only cares about you as a worker, He cares about the work you do. And, the work we do for others, particularly those with the greatest need, Christ views as service to Him also (Mathew 25:40).
God not only cares about chefs, He cares about the food we eat. He not only cares about dentists, but He cares about dentistry and the care of our teeth. He not only cares about plumbers, but also cares about access to water and a sanitary environment in which we can live. God uses your work to add value to the lives of others and to meet the needs of others. In our service to others, we are also serving Christ.
Your work matters to God. Through it he wants to mold you, meet you, and minister through you. Are you keeping your eyes, ears, and spirit open to God in the midst of your work?