What's the Purpose of Our Work? A Guest Post from Jenni Catron
Driven. A common one-word summary of the American rat race.
I've wrestled quite often with my driven-ness and how it correlates with God's calling on my life. A reconciliation that has often eluded me.
How does my drive for significance complement God's purpose for me? Or does it? How does work intersect with calling? How do I fulfill God's calling when I must also work?
Galatians 6:4 further compounded my questions, "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you've been given." (The Message) How do I make a careful exploration and what is the work I've been given?
I've often mistaken work as a consequence of our sin. The serpent, the fruit, the question, the consequence. After the tragedy in the garden, the ground was cursed, and work entered the world. But when you look more closely at the first chapter of Genesis we're told that God gave us work to do: have babies, subdue the earth, and rule over the fish, the birds, and every living creature. Before the fall. Before sin messed things up, work was still a part of our lives. God attributed significance to work even before it was a result of our sin. We were made to work.
The work we were given from the beginning of our existence was to "fill the earth and subdue it." Think about the significance of this. God spent six days creating this unbelievable creation, and he immediately handed its stewardship over to us.
Imagine the care and intentionality that God must have devoted to his creation. Then imagine how significant it was for him to entrust it all into our care. The work we've been given is an extraordinary gift that God has entrusted to us.
Our modern view equates work with punishment. It's a necessary evil—we work to survive. It's the place we go more than forty hours a week to pay the bills and provide for our indulgences. Work is rarely considered a privilege. It's a means to an end—safety, security, provision, and rewards.
This is where some redefinition is required. The work God has given us isn't an employer-employee transaction. It's not a job. It's not punching a time clock or meeting performance expectations. It's a relationship where the one who deeply knows us and loves us entrusts us with his prized possessions to equip us to partner with him for eternal significance.
Our work is far more than our jobs; our work is our influence in action.
Our work is the collection of everything we do. It's the tangible actions of who we are. It's how we lead, it's how we parent, it's how we manage our homes, it's how we care take our relationships, it's how we exercise, it's how we have fun, and it's how we go about our day from the time we wake to the time we lie down to sleep. The "work we've been given" is the actions that make up our day.
We are stewards of the work that God has entrusted to us, and that endowment of gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities is unique to each one of us. Our driven-ness, our quest for significance, our desire for influence – our clout – comes to life when realize the potential of our God-given influence in action.
You are specifically designed to impact the world in a way that no one else can. Discovering this work that you've been given is an essential part of unleashing your purpose. You have a specific purpose, a calling, that only you are qualified to fulfill. Your God-given influence defines your purpose. Your purpose establishes your leadership. Your leadership makes a mark on the world.
So perhaps "driven" isn't so bad if I'm driven towards accomplishing the work I've been given.