It’s Monday. If you’re anything like the 70% of Americans who hate or feel disengaged from their job (seriously, that’s a real statistic!) the word Monday alone might be enough to make you cringe. Or start checking the job posting section of LinkedIn for a job that might make your Mondays feel less… well, like Monday.
For some of us, Mondays may feel like such a far cry from the celebratory, Jesus-praising, “life is good!”-ness of Sunday morning worship. And we might be tempted to cry out in frustration “if Adam and Eve wouldn’t have eaten that apple, we wouldn’t have to work! We’d just get to relax in the garden all day.”
But wait a second… If our theology of work starts as a curse, aren’t we forgetting something?
Aren’t we forgetting that work started at the creation of the universe? That we serve a God who starts His word with a description of a six-day work week? A God whose first command included the words “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28). Those are action words! Those are work words.
So why does our view of work feel so often like a “have to” and not a “get to?” Like our work is wholly disconnected from our worship?
And for those of us who love Jesus, and want to view our daily lives as worship, where do we go from here?
The Good News of our work is in the here-and-not-yet-ness. The here: Jesus’ sacrifice paved the way for the shalom of God – the peace, the Kingdom of our Savior – to start here and now. The not-yet: like The Leaf by Niggle, we only see a small glimpse of the future Kingdom in all its glory.
But that small glimpse is such a hopeful taste! It’s the taste of the future Kingdom that Jesus had as He built tables for eighteen years. It’s the taste of a work that transforms, makes a differences, and ushers in greater goodness now.
How can we see more Good News in our work Monday through Friday?
We can view our work in light of the bigger picture of God’s redemption of the world.
If we only view our work as 40+ hours a week of looking at spreadsheets, writing memos, sitting through meetings, stocking shelves, or changing diapers, we miss the big picture of our work in light of God’s redemption of the world. We have to change our mindset to see how even the smallest of our tasks contributes to God’s mission. Communicators, you have the power everyday to bring clarity to areas of darkness. Politicians and staff, you are creating a more equal world, giving people opportunities to grow and flourish. Mathematicians, economists, accountants, you are bringing order to peoples lives. Retail workers, carpenters, manual laborers, you are creating opportunities for others to succeed by providing valuable services. Stay-at-home-parents, you are shaping who your children will become and how they will treat others in the future.
Our work isn’t small, it’s hugely connected to what God is doing in the world through us.
We can do our work with integrity.
Our work in the world bears witness to who Christ is. In a world of cynics who see talk and action so divided by the church, we are invited to be people of integrity, trust, and honor. When we treat our fellow workers with respect, refuse to cut corners to serve bottom lines, and keep our word, we bear witness to a God who has transformed us so that we can look differently than the world. We communicate a gospel message of our newness in Christ – and we invite others to do likewise.
We can actively promote equality and civility in our workplace and through our workplace.
At the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church presented the rules of civility that he expects all employees to follow:
We will greet and acknowledge each other.
We will say please and thank you.
We will treat each other equally and with respect.
We will be direct, sensitive and honest.
We will address incivility. (source)
Having an internal code of civility allows us to focus on our work and to do it well. After all, how many workplace relationships have been destroyed by gossip or demonization? Yet, there is more at stake than internal relationship. When we do our work well and with civility, and when we pay fair wages, our working hours are freed up so that we can be people who make a difference in the world. We feel more actively supported, and we in turn actively support the world through our work.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is not only hope for the future, but hope for the day-to-day. The promise is that the work is completed, and the kingdom is ushered in, and that the work will be completed, and the kingdom will be ushered in – and we’re invited to participate.