How should Christians treat work?
Pitch deadline: December 6
Article deadline: January 7
Please pitch your article ideas to Love Is Moving editor, Ilana Reimer ([email protected]).
“Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.”
“What do you do?”
It’s one of the first things we ask when we meet someone new. Our North American culture is work-obsessed. This focus seems heightened by social media, where the lives of people with our dream jobs are consistently before our eyes.
In my experience, millennials and younger generations have a strong focus on finding work that’s meaningful and fulfilling, for ourselves and/or the world. Especially when compared to Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, fewer of us seem content working to simply pay the bills and support our families.
Both focuses have their merits. It’s good and valuable to seek meaningful work. It’s also good and valuable to provide for yourself and your household. Jesus embraced both categories, working as a carpenter and as a teacher. Whether cleaning the bathroom, preparing a meal for a guest, earning a paycheque, or dedicating skills toward a good cause—the Lord gives all forms of work meaning.
At the beginning of Genesis, God gave Adam and Eve a commission to “work and keep” the garden (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:15). This suggests that work of some kind is part of God’s plan for us. Working is a form of contributing to the community we are a part of; it interconnects us by allowing us to serve another and contribute to structures that keep our society going.
We thrive when we have a purpose, but that purpose doesn’t have to be a grandiose thing. It could also mean getting our hands dirty weeding the garden. And no matter what we do, God is the Lord of the harvest; it’s through His power we see the fruit of our labours. On our own, we cannot make seeds grow, nor can we change another’s heart or defeat the powers of evil (Mark 4:26-29; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). Yet by being invited to work, we can see the Lord’s power through our efforts.
There are many tensions to keep in balance to prevent what we do from becoming an idol that defines our self-worth. We must have “rightly ordered love” as Saint Augustine put it in City of God. Rightly ordered love means our priorities are organized according to God’s will. In the context of work, this means we won’t become greedy for money or fame, sacrifice our relationships with God and others for the sake of work, or inflate our egos by embedding our identities in our work.
In this issue, we want to unpack some of the nuances around work. What should our relationship to work look like as Christians?
These questions could spark an article idea:
- What does the Bible have to say about a good approach to work? How does that differ from what our culture says about it?
- What is meaningful or “successful” work from a Christian perspective?
- How does our purpose as Christians relate to work?
- How do your work responsibilities influence the rest of your life priorities, such as church involvement or investing in friendships?
- How can we know when busyness is good, and when it’s bad?
- How does busyness differ from a good work ethic?
- What can we learn from Jesus’s life on earth about work?
- What does the Bible say about laziness? How does laziness differ from rest?
- What’s the difference between work and vocation?
- There’s a lot of pressure on Gen Y and Gen Z to work harder and longer, climb ladders, or get side hustles, so we can get into the real estate market, save for retirement, etc. What hope can a Christian perspective bring to ease this pressure?
- Workplaces are often a primary source of community; they are a way to speak into other people’s lives in a consistent, powerful way. Do you have a story of community at a past or present job? Of learning and growing with coworkers?
Again, the article deadline is January 7.