How can we serve the work?
This question has become increasing poignant these last few years as many people have been, or are still without work.
I, personally, can’t fathom life without work. I can’t imagine my life without serving the work. Just ask my wife and kids. I’m restless without it and my weekends are often as busy as my weekdays. I wake up Saturday morning and scour the yard for new things to do, my hands itching for some new way to be productive.
In this Summer’s reading selection, Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller states that we were designed to work. That our dignity, cultivation, and ability to serve are all rolled up in how we labor and how we “serve the work.” And that work is dramatically different and better when we involve the Lord. Or said differently, when we work for one, we can work for all.
In spite of its benefits, Keller describes work the way most of us think of it. “Many people are trying to get a sense of self through productivity and success–but that burns them out. For others the motivation is to bring home a paycheck so they can enjoy “real life” — but that makes work into a pointless grind. These motivations are what we could call the “work beneath the work.” And they are what make work so physically and emotionally exhausting in the end.”
When we work this way, there is no way to be truly fruitful in our labor. It becomes an existential threat. And when you consider how much of our day is spent in this existential crisis, no wonder we can’t work for God or anyone else for that matter.
One of the best things I have ever done for my work was to involve God and His Gospel. I humbly admit that I have not perfected it, it’s a constant work in progress, and there are days when his word gets lost in the shuffle, but when he is truly the CEO, only then am I able to serve the work, my company, and my employees. Only then is my outcome remarkably different and fruitful. When we tweak the purpose of our work to serve the One, only then can we truly serve all. Hiring God to be our CEO has allowed our company to serve our clients, be transparent in our goals, and set a precedent of how best to succeed. It has made all the difference.
I realize that bussing tables at a restaurant, serving kids in the lunch line, changing tires at the local auto shop, may seem to lack the dignity and cachet of being a doctor, lawyer, or business tycoon, but it is work and can transform you and others if you allow it. When you work for God, your work will be remarkably different, regardless what you do, and people will take notice.
Finally, when we serve the work, we are not treasuring the temporary (our success or earnings). As Keller states, “Only if Jesus is your treasure are you truly rich, for he is the only currency that cannot be devalued. And only if he is your Savior are you truly successful, for status with him is the only status that can’t be lost.” Work for One, no matter what you do, and you’ll find God will open doors for you.