The majority of our adult lives, according to one estimate, is spent at work. Almost 150,000 hours, or 40% of our waking lives is spent getting up, getting ready, going in and living through our day (or our night) at our place of employment or vocation. Today, it should be added, that many spend their days logging in to a computer at home or from a remote office locale. But that is still an exception and not a rule.
So, it’s off to work most of us go. And how we treat those hours has eternal significance. We don’t simply “spend our time.” We invest it… somehow. Whether wisely or foolishly, our time at work is a stewardship of a precious resource. As author Dorothy Sayer noted, “our work is the way we offer ourselves to God.”
That literally puts a different spin on our jobs, doesn’t it? If “whatever we are doing” (Colossians 3:23) is to glorify God then nothing we do is menial work. Everything we do has meaning. Whether we work well or poorly, there is significance to our employment. God sees what we do and according to 1 Corinthians 7:17, He has “assigned” us to our task. Therefore He has a purpose for our being exactly where we are, even with an irritating supervisor or annoying co-workers, we are being watched by God’s eyes. Even if the eyes watching us are the eyes of children we are spending our days raising; every act has value and weight.
This is not meant to add pressure to an already pressured life that some may feel. It is simply (hopefully and encouraging) a reminder that “nothing we do in the Lord is in vain.” It is a reminder that we need to “keep on” for the Kingdom’s sake, even if we can’t find reason to “keep on” for the company or the people we work for or with.
And as a caveat, let me add that this applies even for those who are working jobs that you feel are far below your level of skill, expertise, seniority or capability. You may have lost a lucrative, prestigious job with a nice office and expense account with assistants scurrying at your command and now you are the second-shift, night manager of a convenience store. You still work, and live for, the glory of God. The downsizing may have blindsided you but it didn’t take God by surprise. Many who were addressed in the New Testament books and verses were “slaves,” which in that context usually meant an educated, skilled worker who was owned by or who worked under a household manager. Even the slave had a choice about the attitude with which they worked, even though they may not have had a choice about being there.
At the end of your life, I pray we can look back over a “job well done” because of our labor. And if you are working for the right Boss and living for the right Audience, you will find you can.
FOR MEDITATION: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23
FOR REFLECTION: How can you work to keep your attitude right… to keep your work focused… on the right motivation? Can you begin each day by praying, “Lord, may I so do my work today that I will be the answer to someone’s prayer.”