In Proverbs, the writer often warns against becoming a sluggard, or one who disengages from work. Some believe work is a part of God’s curse on Adam (Gen. 3:17-19) and engaging in work is a departure from the original plan God had for mankind. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Work is a part of God’s character and is an expectation he has for his people.
There are several attempts at defining work. Frederick Buechner (1993) defines work as a place where deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet. David Jensen (2006) defined work as an activity of obligation to self, others, one’s community, or one’s God. Miroslav Volf (2011) states, Christian work must be done under the inspiration of the Spirit and in the light of the coming new creation. Despite the various differences in these definitions, the consistency is that work is a part of worshipping and glorifying God.
The first thing that is important for disciples of Christ to understand is that work is a reflection of God’s character and will be a part of the eternal existence with God (Witherington, 2011). When Isaiah takes a glimpse into the final future, he describes a world where weapons of war are made into tools of work (Isa. 2:2-5) and where fellowship happens around the bountiful fruits of labor rather than toil and strife of work many know today.
The second thing disciples of Christ must understand is that work is an active part of reflecting Christ to the world; as disciples of Christ approach work with dedication, energy, and quality they influence culture by infusing ordinary life with God’s presence turning work into a sacred calling (Veith, 2002).
How does one find joy in work that is unfulfilling?
Buechner, F. (1993). Wishful thinking: a seeker’s ABC (Rev. and expanded [ed.]). San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco.
Jensen, D. H. (2006). Responsive labor: a theology of work (1st ed). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Veith, G. E. (2002). God at work: your Christian vocation in all of life. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books.
Volf, M. (2001). Work in the Spirit: toward a theology of work.
Witherington III, B. (2011). Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.