Work: A Form of Worship

Most people compartmentalize their lives.

As a young Air Force officer, I set up a compartment for military duties, a compartment for family, and a compartment for recreation.  Unlike many, I even had a “religious” compartment.  It wasn’t until several years into my career that I realized there’s a spiritual dimension to every aspect of life, and I understood I couldn’t separate my faith from the other compartments I’d so neatly organized.

Years ago I read a book entitled Your Work Matters to God.  Doug Sherman—an Air Force Academy graduate and former USAF pilot—and William Hendricks outlined three myths about our work.

Myth 1:  Work is secular, and there’s no inherent dignity or intrinsic value to it.

Christians often consider spiritual ministry and the helping professions to be much nobler than work with the primary goal of making money.  The authors argue God doesn’t apply this hierarchy to our jobs.  Our work isn’t spiritually inferior if it enables us to care for the physical dimension of life.

Myth 2:  What really matters to God are religious activities.  What happens here and now has meaning only in the light of eternity.

Sherman and Hendricks suggest the natural universe is just as real as the supernatural universe.  They contend what matters in eternity is how faithfully we now use the resources God has given us.  As we meet the legitimate needs of people through our work, we’re investing in others who have eternal value.

Myth 3:  While day-to-day work enables us to meet survival needs, its main value is to provide a strategic soapbox for sharing the gospel with others.

The authors point out Jesus cared for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  God’s word shows us a lifestyle that is broader than just sharing the gospel.

Sherman and Hendricks conclude our work isn’t something beneath God’s dignity or concern.  It’s not a game we play with non-Christians in order to accomplish a more important agenda.  Instead, it’s a major part of life that God takes seriously.  He has ordained work to allow us to support our families and help those in need.  Ultimately, work is a form of worship.  As we work with all our strength for God, we demonstrate our love for Him.

God’s word tells us that, contrary to what some believe, work didn’t originate as a penalty for the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  We see in Genesis that God assigned Adam the job of cultivating the Garden of Eden before he gave into the serpent’s temptation.  After Adam’s failure, the Lord made his work more difficult.

Apostle Paul has quite a bit to say about work.  He suggests the reasons we work are so we can provide for ourselves and our families and to help others in need.  Whatever our motivation, Paul encourages us to labor diligently for the Lord rather than for our human employers because, ultimately, God will reward us.

Regardless of how we earn our monthly paychecks, it’s important that we understand we represent and are accountable to the Lord in our work.  The question is how we can best do this.  Thankfully, God’s Word provides excellent instruction and examples on character traits Christians should display in the workplace.

 Post a comment: Is your concept of work more closely aligned to one of the myths or to the views of Sherman and Hendricks?

Series:  A Christian’s View of Work in the Military: