Today’s guest post comes from Laura Schaffer, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between faith, vocation and work.
Over the last couple of months I have had the opportunity to do some in depth thinking and reflecting on the concept of work in ways that unfortunately I must admit I never have before. In a nutshell work for me has been something that one does to earn a paycheck and if you’re lucky and driven you hopefully find yourself doing something you enjoy. When I began following Jesus that concept enlarged to encompass my behavior as well; I heard it was important to be a “good Christian” at work, which felt burdensome. Well I find myself in a place where my seminary degree is just a couple of months away and I am currently working a part time job purely to help foot the bill. And it is a job that quite honestly I can’t stand and can be pretty grumpy about it too. A perfect place to be in to examine what the work of Christians in the world means for me.
My experience of work as a means to an end is evolving and I now believe that my work and who I am in that can and should have meaning and is relevant regardless of what it is that I’m doing. I think that it matters to God too. Not in the kind of way that there is a specific job that is somehow divinely ordained for me to pursue, interview for and land, but in a way that reveals authentically who I am in Christ and reflects the love of God. Maybe most Christians know that and maybe I should have but it began to surface for me recently after reading an article by Dan Allender titled, Getting Caught By Your Calling.
This is an article about calling and vocation, not work per se, but there is a sentence in this article that prompted my whole train of thought. Allender says, “Those are fine jobs and sometimes careers, but our calling is not what we do – but how we do it.” (pg. 4) In particular it is the last half of the sentence that I keep turning over in my mind and thinking about my views of work in relation to it.
I’ve realized that I have this idea of Christian work as being a job in ministry, a volunteer position in ministry, missions, a position with a non-profit or a NGO of some sort and that I should be pursuing those in order to fulfill my call into Christian work. And that very well may be where I eventually end up and probably in all honestly where my heart leans. But what about in the meantime? What do I do with this current “secular” job that makes me grumpy? I keep my focus on how I do this work that I am gifted with right now and not on what it is that I don’t like about it. One of my greatest desires is to be fully who God created me to be and when I am that person I am best able to approach my work out of my giftedness even if it isn’t what I would choose to be doing. God can and will still use me to reflect His love to the people around me, which is what I want to be doing any way! It matters how I do what I do and knowing that will make it easy to put a smile on my face and “do it all for the glory of God.”