Allow me to tell a story of two brothers. (I’ve completely fabricated these stories while preparing for a sermon so if they bear any resemblance to you or anyone you know that is just the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The similarities are unintentional on my part.) The first brother is John. John works in stocks for a huge financial company in New York City. He and his family live in Bucks County near me. Every morning John wakes up at 4:30 AM and drives into the other city (NY) so that he can beat traffic. If everything goes right he can be at his desk by 7 AM. John works long hours. He never gets home before dark. Dinner is usually very cold by the time he eats it. John seems to be always working. He has to. That is the only way to succeed in stocks. He loves to work because his job is extremely fulfilling. John connects what he is doing directly to his clients. Every time he makes a good investment he feels satisfaction knowing that his client’s future/retirement/college plans/families are little bit more secure. Every time he makes a mistake he personally feels the loss. John works this way and this hard because he is a Christian. Yet, he feels like many Christians judge him because he never has time or energy for church or Bible Study or small groups or family picnics. John frequently whispers to himself, “God must understand because doesn’t the Bible say something about working diligently.” Why can’t these other Christians understand that God is okay with John’s schedule? They don’t seem to mind when John’s tithe check comes in.
Then there is John’s brother Jim. Jim is probably a genius. He can do anything and everything. Yet he really does nothing. Jim is working his third mediocre job in the last three years. He keeps looking for the job that doesn’t interfere with what is really important to him. He is looking for that job that doesn’t get in the way with his real life. Jim’s real life is at church. Jim is the youth leader at a small rural church in Bucks County as well. He works just hard enough to keep his job. He makes just enough to pay his bills and give to the church. But when Jim is working his mind is not there, his heart is not there and you can tell. He has so much talent but it never comes through at his job. He doesn’t want to waste his energy on something as trivial as working. The youth at his church are so much more important. Sunday nights, Wednesday nights he’s with them. Saturdays he usually tries to organize something fun. He has even been thinking about taking a longer lunch break and seeing if he can eat in the local school cafeteria. Jim feels like this is exactly what God has called him to do. His brother doesn’t understand. Jim is tried of his brother’s lectures on diligence and responsibility. He just doesn’t get it. If John was committed to God a little bit more he would understand why work is just not satisfying.
Have you ever seriously questioned what you believe about work? Have you ever wondered how what you believe affects you as a worker? Have you ever examined the Bible to see what it says about work? What are the limits of work? When should we rest? How were we designed to work in community? How has sin affected our work? How should we work in the areas of integrity, perseverance, ambition? How do we share God’s love through our work? How do we pray for our work? How do we hear God’s voice about our work?