One of my favorite topics of conversation is work. I’ve heard it said that men, in particular, quickly gravitate towards talking about their job and role in the marketplace. I can attest to that as I often realize the first information I know about someone I just met is where they work and what they do in their job. Work is an integral part of who we are and reflects one of the first blessings given to mankind. Think of Adam and his first task on earth as shown in Genesis 1:15:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
We also know that one of the curses Adam received for disobeying God was to experience pain and tiredness from his work. This was reflected in God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3:17:
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
I think both of these scriptures provide a beautiful image that explains our mixed experiences with work. When I think of a tired Adam that smiles at his accomplishments but aches with pain I think of me; I think of you and everyone who works. The reality is that while work is seen as a responsibility that brings a great sense of accomplishment, it can also be challenging. And I think the curse goes beyond a difficult task; it challenges our abilities but also our core beliefs and sense of direction.
So how do I get to a place where I love work?
The secret to loving your work is not in a task or a specific process. And it’s greater than a J-O-B. To love our work we need to find the meaning and purpose behind it. Instead of looking at work as either a dreadful activity or an opportunity to excel, we should see it for what it really is: Worship. You see, for Adam and for us all, to work is to praise the opportunities and the challenges given to us by our Heavenly Father.
This view of work may resonate more intimately with a Christ-follower but it’s available to everyone. If worshiping is an extreme form of love, then to love your work will take you to extremes. For some of us that might be scary – you might not like your employer, your boss or your co-workers; but it might also provide the perspective needed to be successful. If we see work as an opportunity to achieve a purpose greater than ourselves, then the legacy we establish needs to be greater than the factors associated with our work.
It isn’t always easy. My own career mirrors those ups and downs with moments of extreme success coupled with others of incredible disappointment. But that is okay. I look back and see that in every role, with every task, and in every team there was something I learned, and I experienced moments of great joy. In some cases I took extreme measures to understand organizations, leaders and co-workers. I’ve worked long hours and traveled to multiple locations; it is what we do. But the why is greater than the outcome.
Take this command for work as shown in Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…
The best encouragement is in the truth of God’s word. Whatever you do, good work can be defined by your heart’s desire to praise God in the act of working.
Think about your current role. It is possible to love your work despite your circumstances. It starts with your view of work.