Our reality over the last two years has caused many Americans to reimagine their working lives. Whether dismantling the norm of eight hours in an office or reading articles with titles like “How to Care Less About Work,” people are searching for true fulfillment and stable ground.
Looking at our work through God’s lenses can provide vision and hope. He created work before sin stained the world. When he called Adam and Eve to fill the earth, rule by his side and care for his creation, he showed them honor, trust and generosity.
Even though the Fall marred the work of our hands with struggle and the pandemic revealed the brokenness of our current relationship to work, our occupational lives are not outside Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Jesus enables us to live the way God intended us to, and that also extends to our 9-to-5 or whatever work schedule we follow.
“We’re called to a very specific kind of work,” writes John Mark Comer. “To make a Garden-like world where image bearers can flourish and thrive, where people can experience and enjoy God’s generous love. A kingdom where God’s will is done ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ where the glass wall between earth and heaven is so thin and clear and translucent that you don’t even remember it’s there. That’s the kind of world we’re called to make. After all, we’re just supposed to continue what God started in the beginning.”
The vision described in this quote inspired me as I also contemplated a job switch last fall: from working with Cru® in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to jumping back into the journalism industry. In the book “Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human,” author John Mark Comer lays out a biblical view of calling that supersedes vocation. He describes calling as having the courage to do what God has created us for, using the passions and skills he’s given us to make a unique impact in his world.
To step into what God was calling me to do, I realized I needed to let go of the ways I clung to a “spiritual” job for security. I knew that my work mattered to God when it was telling people about Jesus each day, but would that remain true when my job shifted to writing full time?
Recently, I published a personal essay about how living in Slovenia helped me speak up and claim my identity as a mixed-race woman. (My mom is biracial, and my dad is Black). I worked on this essay for a year before it was published and, in my self-doubt, questioned if it was worth my time and effort. But after hearing from a few readers who had similar experiences and struggles with their identity, I began to see how God could use my voice to make a “garden-like world.”
In the garden, Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. They were naked and unashamed. When I share my experiences or give voice to the experiences of others, I can help other people be lovingly seen. In turn, they might more confidently walk in the unique way that God created them to reflect his image.
How can you help image-bearers flourish and experience God’s love through your work?
Planted with a purpose
Teachers panicked when COVID-19 caused schools to close in Chisinau, Moldova. But some individuals saw this as an opportunity — including volunteers with LeaderImpact™, a ministry of Cru that helps leaders leverage their professional influence for God’s kingdom.
LeaderImpact staff member Natasha Ciausov began sending Bible verses of encouragement to teachers, which inspired them to send verses and Christian quotes to their co-workers. Natasha was blown away as teachers became even more creative: sending care packages to every teacher in their region, and recommending books from the school library for both students and teachers.
“I encourage them to be light and salt in their workplace,” Natasha says. “It isn’t important where this place is. If you are a janitor in the school, you can do that through your work, actions, deeds, words.”