Work is a gift.
But it is not always viewed that way. Many in our society would push “the good life” as taking time off or going on a vacation – that their purpose begins after they have left their job. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the gift of resting from my labors as much as the next guy.
But God tells us work is also a gift. In fact, one of the first connections between God and Adam was that God gave Adam a purpose:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15 ESV)
In my years of being in various leadership positions, one of the most gratifying aspects was the opportunity to create an awareness in others of their purpose and design. God has uniquely gifted each of us but it is a discouraging endeavor to never find what gives breath to our soul and liberates us to do what God has created for each of us.
True, by design, I was created to bring praise to my Creator through my life. But my Creator also gifted me in certain ways that offer me the most freeing way to bring Him glory.
In my prior days of teaching, I recall a conversation with a student who was struggling to find “what she wanted to do when they grew up.” I was in China and had observed this student teaching and saw a natural giftedness in the classroom and in connecting with others.
Much of teaching is an art and this student had the package. It was natural. And we had many conversations about the future and the conclusion was that teaching English as a second language was going to be her pursuit. Those are gratifying conversations. Helping others see potential that they may not see themselves.
I came across a short video titled Freedom to Flourish, put out by the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics. It drew me in and I found myself resonating with its message. You will enjoy this.
Work is a gift. It did not show up after the fall of Adam and Eve. It was given in the beginning to God’s most crowning creation of man and woman. Work was never designed to replace the Creator, but it was meant to be fulfilling and allow them to experience in a smaller way the joy of work that God enjoyed in His own creation.
So how does a proper view of work help you lead your own people or families or students?
Work is a gift – help others to find their natural joy
As leaders, well, we uh, lead. But do not forget that one of the most fulfilling aspects of leadership is carefully observing those you lead and helping them find their way. Seeing the giftedness that they may not and nurturing that within them. Connecting them with their most fulfilling potential to bring glory to their Creator and make much of Him through their work.
Work is a gift – help others see how what they do contributes to the bigger picture
Work ceases to lose its meaning when all we can see is the mundane of what we are doing. As a leader, it is my responsibility to take the blinders off those I influence and carefully articulate how what they do contributes to and is important to the fulfilling of the missing and vision. Take them to the top of the proverbial mountain and allow them to see more of the landscape than just the plot of ground they are staring at.
Work is a gift – help others find balance
Living life in balance is critical for good health. Too little food or too much food has negative consequences on a body.
So too with work. Being lazy or being a work-a-holic each has warnings and devastating results. As a caring leader, my concern needs to not only be on the work getting done or not, but why the work is getting done or not. I need to come alongside both the slacker and the one who views work as life.
Work is a gift – whatever form it takes
Martin Luther was instrumental in leading a paradigm shift in how work was to be viewed:
Every occupation has its own honour before God, as well as its own requirements and duties.
I think we do people an injustice when we separate work into ministry and “other work.” I am an executive pastor, but I have good friends at my church who work in home improvement, school marketing, pump and well drilling, and electrical work, and I view them as being more in ministry than I am. They are on the front lines.
As the video stated, our worship is not just on Sunday, but it begins again on Monday.
In everything we do, we are called to make disciples, leading others to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus Christ. And no matter the vocation, we are called to see the higher purpose of what we do.
Work is a gift.
And as leaders, it is imperative that we view work rightly so that we can help those we lead view work rightly.
Why? Because a proper view of work gives us a proper view of worship. And a proper view of worship gives us a proper view of work.