At Work

Do I Need a Job to Be Able to Work for God?

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At this point in the year, many recent college graduates are transitioning into new jobs. The prospect of finally getting out into the real world and putting their degree to good use in order to do work they love (and, of course, make money) is a thrilling one. Even those who did not get the kind of job they really want can assure themselves that, given time to build their experience and credentials, their dream career is still attainable.

But there are also those who don’t yet have a next destination. Some may have submitted so many job applications that they lost track, yet only received either rejections or no response at all. Others simply may not know what it is they want to do. The weight of myriad options besieges them and, with no one path presenting itself as the most obviously attractive or feasible, they become paralyzed.

In either case, the feeling of aimlessness and uncertainty that often accompanies unemployment can be terrible to bear. You may find yourself asking, “Even if I get a job sooner or later, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

If you’re struggling with such restlessness, I want to tell you today that you don’t need to have a job to do God’s work.

The Meaning of “Good Works”

What exactly are good works? Consider Paul’s encouragement in Ephesians 2:10.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You may think this only refers to something like acts of charity, but the phrase is actually far more expansive than that.

As Joshua Greever and David Kotter show in their study of this and other related New Testament verses, “good works” can refer not only to acts of charity, but also to work in the home and marketplace. As they put it,

God commands and empowers Christians to do work in every sphere of life, and such work is rightly seen as intrinsically valuable and good in his sight [emphasis added].

Your current joblessness does not constrain you from doing work that matters to God. Let’s say you’ve moved back in with your parents after graduating. You’re looking for opportunities, but haven’t heard back from anyone. What else can you do?

Well, your parents have a household to maintain, especially if there are younger siblings still living in it. Any help in contributing to its upkeep—washing dishes, sweeping floors, various and sundry handyman (or computer technician) tasks—would surely be appreciated.

Household Chores? Really?

Now I can feel the skepticism from here: “Your idea of God’s work apart from a job is for me to do…household chores?”

Maybe. Not necessarily. The point is that the range of ways we can work for God is far wider than most of us realize, even if they are not all equally glamorous.

The difficulty for us is to accept that when Paul says “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” he really means whatever. Depending on your circumstances, “whatever” could be a lot of things, so take a moment to consider what opportunities you may have overlooked before.

As for doing household chores? It’s not exciting. It’s not interesting. But if it’s where you are, the service you render will not go unnoticed by God. Did not the master in the parable of the talents say, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things”?

In the meantime, keep searching for job prospects. Think hard about your calling. Ponder your strengths and in what sort of job they could be best harnessed. Beware of the spiritual pitfalls that accompany joblessness. But please do not let yourself believe that apart from a job you have no work to do.

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