Pretty well everyone at my workplace loves Fridays. Friday is the last day of the work week in the government office where I work as an IT subcontractor, and a near-festival atmosphere prevails.
Most people look forward to weekends and holidays, and I am no exception. I love having extra time to spend with family and friends, to do things around the house that need doing, to make music and play racquetball and go for walks with my wife and talk with my children.
Almost nobody at my office admits to liking Monday mornings. Well, maybe I’m just really weird (as my children sometimes lovingly tell me) but truth be told, I actually look forward to going back to work on Monday morning.
It wasn’t always this way. When I made the switch almost fifteen years ago from full-time church worker to student and then IT professional, I found the transition very difficult, and it took me several years to adapt to the culture of the secular workplace. Along the way, though, I’ve come to see some things about the inherent value of work.
One thing I’ve learned is that we are made to be both creative and productive. This is because humans are made in God’s image. We are designed and intended to govern the earth, to bring forth fruit, and in so doing to reflect the nature of God. Consider the vastness of the universe, and then stop to consider the amazing intricacy of even the simplest living cell. Our Creator is amazingly productive! Work that is well done reflects His image and gives glory to the One who made us.
Secondly, I’ve come to see that work is not a curse but a blessing. It is true that after Adam and Eve rebelled against God, Adam was told that his work would become more difficult. This was part of the curse that came onto creation when our first parents turned away from the God who made them and chose independence. I long for the day when Jesus returns to rule openly as King and the creation is fully restored to its intended glory, but I have learned that even now the oppressive power of the curse has been broken for those who have placed their hope in Christ.
This is not just a bunch of religious words. What I am writing here is something that I have actually experienced in my own life. Once I had surrendered control of my life to Jesus Christ, I gradually learned what it meant to see my life as a gift from God. One of the great blessings that comes with this perspective on life is that instead of being a meaningless waste of time, work is a way to give glory to God and express thanks to Him for His goodness. Although we will not see all things fully restored until Jesus returns to rule the earth, even now our work can be a source of joy and satisfaction if we make it a conscious offering of thanks and praise to God.
Thirdly, all work is spiritually significant – not just the work of preaching and teaching and healing and making disciples. I remember reading an article several years ago on the rapid growth of evangelical Christianity in much of Latin America. One of the comments that got my attention was made by a business owner who recognized that Christians made better employees because they were productive and reliable. Jesus taught his followers to let their light shine so that people around them would sees God’s goodness and give thanks to Him. Yes, there are frustrations in any workplace, but I have a choice about my own attitude. Any job done well, with a thankful heart, to the glory of God, is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and goodness. As we adopt this mindset towards our work, we are changed and the people around us are influenced for the better, often more than we realize.
Fourthly, all work can be a training ground for service in the Kingdom of God. Peter, Andrew, James and John were commercial fishermen before they were called to be apostles. Paul was a tent-maker, and Jesus himself was a carpenter. Character is formed through work. I believe that I am a better disciple of Jesus and more equipped for leadership and service in the Kingdom of God because I have spent the last fifteen years learning and practicing what some would see as an entirely secular occupation. During these years I have learned many valuable lessons that are directly applicable to life in the kingdom of God. I love the fact that the elders of my church have years of experience in various secular trades and occupations, and most of them still earn their living outside the church. This makes their testimony and teaching very believable. What they teach, they have practiced in real life.
Fifthly, work is an opportunity to build relationships with people who need to know that God loves them and has a good purpose for their lives. The people we work with matter to God! Many of Jesus’ life-changing encounters with people took place while they were at work. Paul the apostle got to know Aquila and Priscilla, who became major partners in his ministry, through working with them in his trade as a tent-maker. One of my prayers is for God to give me His heart for those I work with, so that I can see them through His eyes and be the positive influence that He wants me to be in the workplace.
I am writing this on a Sunday morning. I still have most of Sunday ahead of me, and I am looking forward to worshipping with my church community, talking to Simeon, Heather and Sophie on Skype, hanging out with Bethany and Dunovan, and whatever other forms of enjoyment and relaxation the day holds. I am very grateful for a day of rest and relaxation. But I’m also thankful that I can go to work tomorrow. By the grace of God, I can say that I am looking forward to Monday morning, and I fully expect to have a good day when I go back to work.