When it comes to colleges, I am a Tennessee Volunteer fan and my wife is a Clemson Tiger fan. We both enjoy college sports and both of our teams are having horrible football seasons this year. Both head coaches have been fired during this season and both of them were given a nice bit of cash as they left their positions. Last night, I realized how much my 4 year old was listening to my conversations with my wife. Here was how our humorous conversation went:
My Daughter: “Daddy, is coaching something only boys do or do girls do it too?”Me: “There are both men and women who coach.”
My Daughter: “I want to be a coach when I grow up.”
Me: (with a puzzled look) “Why do you want to be a coach when you grow up?”
My Daughter: “So I can get fired and get a lot of money”
You see, my daughter understands that we work in order to get money, but what she fails to understand is that most people don't get a lot of money when they lose their jobs. She also doesn't understand that our work has far greater purposes than simply making money. In order to understand the purpose of work, we must understand where it started.
Working is not just an idea that began with farmers, the industrial revolution, or Donald Trump. In Genesis 2, we see that God created man to work the ground prior to sin coming into the world. Work was not a bad thing, it was purposeful. It's purpose it to glorify God.
Colossians 3:22-4:1 speaks to this and reveals three primary thoughts that a Christian should have when thinking about work.
1. We are to work with integrity in mind--Christians are not just to give superficial service to their employer. We are not to give "eye-service" to attract attention for the purpose of self exaltation. Christians are to have the integrity of heart that points to Christ as the source of good work and points to Christ as one for which good work is done.
2. We are to work with our identity in mind-- Christians are ultimately working for Jesus Christ, not a company. We are citizens of heaven and our identity is most clearly shown in the cross of Jesus Christ. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Thus, we do not worship work, but worship the Lord of the work. We do not neglect work, but work hard as unto the Lord.
Speaking of work, Leland Rykin says, "The dominant work ethic in the Western world today is economically based. It values work as a stepping stone to the acquisition of either goods or prestige. The deficiencies of this work ethic are that it is sometimes insufficient to motivate people to their best work, it induces many people to overwork, it devalues unpaid work, and it ignores more enlightened motivations and rewards for work” (Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure p. 134). Christians must guard against such thoughts of work. We must fight the slow drift of viewing our work the way that those around us may view work. We are not "working for the weekend" or thinking "TGIF...thank God it's Friday." Yes, we can desire rest, for it points us to the Lord of Rest, but we must do our work unto the Lord.
3. We are to work with intentionality in mind--It is so easy to waste time in the work place. YouTube, Facebook, e-mail, widgets, bathroom breaks, water cooler talk, day dreaming, and blogs can all be subtle forms of not doing our job. Yes, we are all prone to wander in our own unique way. Intentionality will help us from this drift and will allow us to use our job location to build friendships with unbelievers, grow in discipline, and have a joy in knowing that we are obeying our calling in the workplace.
Since the vast majority of men in the United States are employed or are seeking employment, intentional manhood must look at being intentional in our workplaces. If we ignore our spiritual lives in the place we spend 40 to 55 hours per week, we are hardly being intentional.
Here are some recommended resources that have served me when thinking about the topic of "work." Please feel free to add more in the comments.