Most of us will spend somewhere around 65% of our waking hours working. If work is not seen as a holy thing, if work is not counted as an essential aspect of our contribution to the mission of God, then no wonder our work isn’t fulfilling. No wonder it feels like toil. Work is one of the most significant ways a human being can participate in the mission of God. Churches do a great disservice to their congregations when they do not teach them that work is a holy thing. The Christian concept of vocation transcends profession/occupation. Our vocation – our job – is to image God to all creation in every aspect of our lives including work.
When people do not experience this it can cause all sorts of problems.
I feel very fortunate that a big part of my job involves writing, which I love to do. From blog posts to articles, books to sermons, I spend much of my time trying to create something beautiful and interesting in the hope that these sentences might provoke others to an experience of the divine, a transcendent experience of true understanding. That I get to do a lot of this at Panera on 119th and Black Bob in KC is a perk of the job.
I work while sitting at a cafe table in Panera so often that I’m beginning to get to know people who work there a little bit. One person in particular has worked there for a couple of years. She’s an outspoken Christian and often talks to me about what I’m writing. At the same time I’ve noticed that she has a very antagonistic relationship with her fellow employees and her bosses. They are treated as thought they are the enemy, a distraction or temptation which must be resisted and overcome, and as a result she is constantly at the center of the workplace drama of the day. My friend is hedging her heart against those she works with so as not to be tainted by their decadence or (what she would call), lax morality. I wonder if she is missing the beauty of work as mission, work as participation in the mission of God – the redemption of all things.
Even the worst job or working situation can be a great place in which to participate in redemptive living. Even the most soul-crushing job can be an essential part of our own discipleship, and beautiful part of how we have been called to bear witness to the goodness of God. Your mission is always the person sitting next to you: at home, at work, at church, at play, and at rest.
This is the subject of Chapter 02 in Public Jesus. It’s called Vocation: Learning to Count the Right Things. I hope you’ll take the time to pick up the book. Here’s a link to the 5 min. video that accompanies this chapter.