This Iron Leadership Lesson is by Sam Kennedy.
How can you tell someone thinks of their work as not just a job, but as a calling?
Take this guy for example:
Calling is about vision and purpose. Knowing vision and purpose is essential for your leadership. Who has put you in your job, in your home, in your neighborhood, in your city? Why do they have you where you are in your job, in your home, in your neighborhood, in your city?
Who – The Right Audience
There are two common audiences for your work: 1. Yourself. 2. Other human beings.
What’s wrong with this?
Tim Keller: “a job is a vocation (calling) only if someone else calls you to do it and you do it for them rather than for yourself. And so our work can be a calling only if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests.”
God himself is the right audience. Before the fall (Gen 1:28), God goes into business with humanity. This is before the fall, which means that work is good and by God’s original design.
Our Father is Always Working
He works as a:
- Creator — making things that weren’t there before, designing, developing, construction.
- Provider — assisting people to meet their needs of shelter, food, leisure, rest, education.
- Redeemer — healing, health, justice, or change, in bodies, systems, or relationships.
Greek philosophers saw work as a curse, which came from their view of God(s). The gods were just sitting up on mount Olympus eating, drinking, and having affairs.
Other philosophers think that the physical world is totally evil. Buddhism and some Greek philosophy does this, so that the best kinds of work would be the least physical. Thinking rather than doing. Thought labor (creative labor) rather than manual labor.
But for Christians, we serve a God who is at work— living and active—in the world. And a God who is active in the physical world, who became a flesh and blood man. Who was a carpenter, for crying our loud! So we see work not as a curse but as an extension of his fatherly care, and we see that we can be involved in all types of work because God is in all honest, non-immoral vocations.
Psalm 147:12-14 says,
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. 14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
Think about all of the vocations mentioned in these few verses:
- 13a: Security, Construction, Mining, City Planning
- 13b: Homemaking, education
- 14a: Military, Law enforcement, government 14b: Farmers, chefs, bakers, and servers.
God cares for our needs through the work of others.
How God Answers Prayer
“When you pray for “your daily bread” you are praying for everything that contributes to your having and enjoying your daily bread…you must open up and expand your thinking, so that it reaches not only as far as the flour bin and oven but also to the broad fields, the farm lands, and the entire country that produces, processes, and conveys to us our daily bread and all kinds of nourishments.” – Martin Luther.
Think about all of these ways that God answers our prayer for “daily bread”:
- Website programmer
- Truck Drivers
- Warehouse Workers
- Power Company
- Appliance inventor
- Appliance repair
- Dental care (helps us chew)
- Physician (helps us digest)
- God as Creator – Making stuff.
- Provider – helping people get stuff.
- Redeemer – fixing, healing, and protecting stuff.
If our work is a service to God and neighbor, then we should not ask: “what will give me the most status and make me the most wealth?” But instead, “how, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of human need?
Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, said that the essential modern heresy was related to work— thinking about work not in terms of expressing our creative energy in the service of society, but “only something a person does in order to obtain money and leisure.”
Our Calling: To Serve and Love
If God’s purpose for you is to serve through your work, then the best way to fulfill that calling is to do your work, whatever it is, with skill and excellence.
Love others not just by being good, but by being good at your work.
“The church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually telling him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours and to come to church on Sundays. What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand his religion makes on him is that he should make good tables.”—Dorothy Sayers
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23–24.)
- What bad views of work did you catch growing up? What are the ways people around you tend to divide up and judge different types of work?
- When you feel frustrated or unmotivated at work, what audience are you seeking to please? (For example: Yourself (self-fulfillment), others (people pleasing/ fear of punishment)
- What part of God’ s work as creator , provider , and redeemer does your work most closely resemble?
- Today and in the week to come—how can you do what you do, better?
Other Helpful Resources:
- Os Guinness – Work as Calling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6s8EdZsiS4
- Dismantling the New Sacred-Secular Divide: https://tifwe.org/dismantling-the-new-sacred-secular-divide/
- How to Live Your Faith at Work: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/tgc-podcast/live-faith-work/
- What if My Work Isn’t My Passion?: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/thorns-thistles-work-isnt-passion/
- Terry Tate, Office Linebacker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQhk5NjsyfM&feature=youtu.be