At Work

Open Thread Thursday: What Is the Eternal Significance of Everyday Work?

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Editor’s Media Note: Dr. Art Carden, one of IFWE’s senior fellows, is appearing on John Stossel tonight to discuss price gouging laws in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Tune in to FOX Business at 9 p.m. to catch the discussion. 

What is the eternal significance of everyday work? This has been a big question on my mind, and one that looms large at IFWE as we seek to rediscover a biblical perspective on work. I recently wrote a post for Values & Capitalism that attempts to answer this very question:

Is God calling you into full-time ministry?

 

Many Christian college students preparing to graduate feel as if their entire life rests on the answer to this question.

 

During my senior year at James Madison University, I watched plans to become doctors and business leaders dissolve as many friends gave up their dreams for “full-time ministry.” I respected their decisions, and wondered if I could find the same significance in my “ordinary” calling.

 

As they began raising support to join campus ministry staff or church plant teams, I applied for internships in Washington, D.C., and tried to convince myself that my vocation would be equally meaningful.

 

I found some repose from the leaders in my church. They regularly emphasized the importance of secular work in building God’s kingdom. I learned that I would find significance in any job, as long as I:

 

  • Exemplified Christ’s love.
  • Shared my faith with my co-workers.
  • Donated a portion of my income to ministry. 

 

But I found this answer only half-satisfying. It explained how I should interact with co-workers and steward my money, but what about the actual work I was going to be doing?

You can read the full post over on Values & Capitalism’s website.

Can you relate? Have you ever wondered how or why your work has spiritual significance? I’d love to hear your stories.

The question of eternal significance is especially pertinent for jobs we typically see as mundane. As Hugh Whelchel asked in his post “Work That Transforms: What Is It?“:

The Christian who works on an assembly line turning five screws in a widget over and over: how is his work “Kingdom Work?”

In an effort to answer these questions. I want open up the discussion to you to offer your answers and opinions.

How do we find eternal significance in our work?

How do we carry out mundane tasks with a vision of God’s overall plan? How do we connect ordinary work to “Kingdom work?”

Leave your comments here

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  • Robby

    Our Redeemer, through whom ALL things were made and through whom ALL things are sustained, will return as Judge. He will certainly “bring up” how we have managed his works…all of them: the Creation itself and the creativity we’ve been given as his Image Bearing Managers. All work is spiritual because no work escapes this context: this is God’s world and all things belong to him.

  • God’s plan for us includes our work, but is not only our work. God prepares us through our learning and experience and life to be useful at work and elsewhere. We demonstrate Him through our integrity, our love for Him, our service and prayers for co-workers, customers, partners, and vendors. The presence of “Christ in us” goes everywhere in our work, whether we are aware of it or not! The fruit of His work in us makes influence possible for mercy, grace, and joy in our work. It is only by grace that we touch the world around us with the joy of the Lord. By staying close by Him the best we can, we see things He wants us to do with and for others. We yearn for and expect discernment and wisdom that He provides. We offer to those around us what He has given us — and share the gospel when He gives us the opportunity. We work hard to be competent, earnest workers to give Him glory. We try to keep our composure in tough times, and enjoy the people He sends us. At home. At work. Wherever.

  • What a lovely thought. I think this is why understanding markets is so important!The man who turns screws in widgets is a servant (even if unseen) to all who see value in that product and choose to buy it. You don’t always have to physically wash a man’s feet to make his life better.

  • There is something distorted in our popular conception of “service.” We tend to think that this cannot include an exchange of goods. if I mow your lawn at no charge, I have served you, but if you pay me, I have merely done “work.” Yet, what if you just give me something to drink? What if I am simply rewarded by my own joy in doing something for you?

    Does the presence of mutual benefits negate the value of something as a “service”? Certainly not! Indeed, we are serving one another by offering our work, money, objects, food, love, respect, happiness, the gospel, and all sorts of other “goods.”

    We do not question whether our mission trips are eternally significant, or whether our talents in the church choir have divine purpose. We should treat our daily work the same way, so long as it is edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Further readings on At Work

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