Meaning and Work


I just watched a great video on the meaning of work. Here are some notes I jotted down. Some are direct quotes, some are paraphrases, some are just thoughts that popped into my head.

If you don’t have a job, you’re not living out the mission of Jesus.

I don’t think this is/was a slam on full time pastors. Believe me, that can be hard work. Rather I’m put in mind of folk who can work and don’t. Maybe because of my computer and gaming hobbies I think of guys I know who are in their twenties and still mooching off mom & dad. Okay, I’m being judgmental, but it does bug me.

There’s really just one calling: Follow Jesus. Everything else just plays out.

When I was twelve I was called to join a Christian theater company. When I was fifteen I was called to worship ministry, when I was twenty-three I was called to missions, when I was twenty-eight I was called to the pastorate… These weren’t really different callings, but different ways God wanted to use me for His glory. The call was to be a Christ follower (which I answered first when I was seven, and recommitted myself to when I was 22) and as such to make disciples, etc.

We tend to make heroes or celebrities of people who are in full time ministry … What you’re doing should be the most important thing in the world – to you. We tend, however, to focus on the person who gets to be on the stage.

Coupled with the note above, there seems to be the idea in our churches that the “pastor” is more worthy or more spiritual than the folks sitting in the pew. Somewhere we got the idea that God values full time ministry more than bi-vocational ministry and especially more than “secular” work. That’s just not true. It’s an unbiblical idea which has poisoned our churches.

I’m not leaving earth, so how can I be leaving the ministry?

I have friends who are no longer employed by churches. I confess I am one of those who thought of them as having left the ministry. I realize now how very wrong that thinking is and hereby repent of that. “Ministry” is not done only by those who pull a paycheck from a government recognized religious body. Several people recently asked me that very question upon hearing of my resignation from my previous church. I don’t know where I’ll draw a paycheck, but as long as I’m still on planet Earth, I can’t leave the ministry.

We are designed for work. The consequence of the fall in Genesis 3 is that work would not be rewarding.

There is a difference between work and toil. Adam and Eve were given charge of the planet. They were it’s stewards. There was work to be done there. Exactly what, I’m not sure, but work was not part of the curse. Toil, unrewarding work, was. We are designed to work.

Part of what we’re supposed to do with work is to translate beauty into reality.

That thought just leapt out at me. I’m not quite sure how to apply that yet. It’s still percolating.

People keep looking for a meaningful job. There is no meaningful job out there. Don’t look for meaning in your job, bring meaning to your job.

This is something else I struggled with in the past. We tend to hop from place to place, job to job, looking for meaning or fulfillment in a job. It’s not going to happen. There was one job I had where I really felt like a parasite on society. I failed to see how I could bless clients as well as those I worked with.

Somewhere many of us bought the lie that doing the everyday thing called life is unspiritual.

If we are made to worship, and to continually present ourselves as living sacrifices, then the daily thing called living is by nature spiritual.

The people in the workplace are the front line. For some reason they keep being told to leave the front line and take a support role (workplace to vocational ministry or “full time” mission work). But they are where the action is … When you’re a pastor, the people you relate best to are pastors – and most of them already know Jesus.

Some of the best and most authentic spiritual conversations I’ve had happened in the course of a work day, in the work place, with working people. I’ve really been wrestling with vocational church ministry … not universally, but my place therein. I’m not sure what direction God is leading me at this time. Maybe it’s back into full time church service, I do think there is a need there. Maybe it’s not. I just don’t know … and I’m okay with that.

As I mentioned earlier to some friends, I’m not sure what God has up his sleeve. I’m just along for the ride.

1 thought on “Meaning and Work

  1. I don’t have a job, as most people think of it, but I’m working hard enough at what the Lord has left open for me now. I’m at peace about that. It also wouldn’t matter if I did other types of work during part of the day. I expect to work at something, and sometimes volunteer for stuff I know how to do. No particular reason or aim, just doing what comes naturally as I strive to see with spiritual eyes. Good stuff, Jason.

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