So today I braved the nasty weather to head to the monthly Tennessee Christian Chamber Luncheon. The subject was ” The Theology of Work”. The speaker was the president of Travecca Nazerene University, Dr. Dan Boone. Dr. Boone was a very prolific speaker and was full of insight on the Christian perspective of work.
Here are my take aways from the meeting that really touched me.
Do you consider work a Gift from God or a Punishment?
Most people would say that work was a punishment from God. When in actuality work existed before the fall, however, it wasn’t until after the fall that we actually perceived it unsatisfying.
Dr. Boone used the book of Ecclesiastes to explore this topic. This book has a great deal to say on the subject of work and toiling. Below are some insights that really hit home to me.
The first comes from Ecclesiastes 4: 4
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
That is from the 2 x 4 that just hit me over the head.
Think about this for a minute. We work or rather toil endlessly so when we compare ourselves to others we can have the upper hand. We say “I have to do this or that so I can have this or that or so I can look like this or that.” We wear ourselves out! It is all about slaving to please man in the present instead of our creator. The comparison game will kill you.
Rather, if we would look at our job as a means to provide for our family and give us the creature comforts we need in this world, we can see work as a blessing or a gift. Being grateful for our job that provides even when it is hard or not glamorous is truly a sign of maturity in ones faith. Sure, God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts, but he first wants to know we are grateful for what we currently have. When you see work as a gift and not a drudgery your whole attitude is different.
Work becomes toiling when we worry about our future. We hoard up riches, and create future anxiety about money. Will there be enough? I must work hard to assure my future. So our work is stressful because there is never enough money and we waste time worrying and working for things that will inevitably disappear, instead of using our work for things eternal.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.
So if you find yourself saying that your Work= your identity and self-worth, then you will find yourself sad and unsatisfied.
On the other hand if you equate Work as a sacrifice to God and a provision from him for your family, you will perceive it as a Gift from God. Live your life knowing that God has a purpose for you right where he has you. Whether you are someone at home struggling with a disease, a manual laborer, a stay at home mom, or an executive in a big company, be grateful for the influence God has placed within you through your work, and USE IT for HIS GLORY!
I love how the 5th Chapter of Ecclesiastes ends. It sums it up perfectly.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
So what is your perspective;Punishment or a Gift?
My Maker’s Plan
To all there is a goal in life
Sometimes it is hard to see.
What may be right for others
May not be right for me.
I can’t stop to smell the roses
In someone else’s lawn
For the touch of jealous envy
Only brings on decline
I will forget about uncertainties
And be joyous of suspense
For the best things in life are spontaneous
And the grandeur more intense.
My life could be a hassle
With stumbling blocks array
Or it could be the best thing
That has ever come my way
It is all at how I look at life
My perception must be right
So I will give it to the Lord
And see it through his sight
For this way I know
My vision is clear
There is no need for worry
For God’s always near
All else will be
As he wills it to be
For I know that my maker
Has the best plan for me.
by: Anita Howell Ryan