Extraordinary Purposes in Ordinary Work

Written by Robert W. Alexander |
Thursday, May 23, 2024

By faith we depend on Jesus to walk with us. We rely on his Spirit to guide us so that our relationship with Christ brings life to the wearisome, broken aspects of life. We can participate in God’s work wherever he has called us. Whatever our role—student, dishwasher, waitress, stay-at-home mom, working mom, office staff, church staff, small business owner, doctor, plumber, artist, contractor—we do all things with Christ, because of him, and with the Spirit’s help (Philippians 4:13). Christ transforms our work from something we do to fulfill our own goals into something much more significant. 

A friend who just lost his job sits across from you with tears in his eyes. “I know I have a purpose,” he says. “I need to know that what I do matters, that I’m doing what God wants me to do.”

A young mom shares with her friends at playgroup, “I just wasn’t pre­pared for the drudgery of caring for a baby. I love her so much, but how do you cope with doing the same thing day after day on little or no sleep?”

“My work is so stressful,” a hardworking executive confesses. “Even when I’m home I’m connected to work electronically. I know my family wishes I wasn’t always ‘checking in,’ but they don’t understand what’s expected of me. I don’t even have the time to think about God and what he wants. It seems like just one more thing to do.”

“I’m trying to get my schoolwork done, but everyone around me is party­ing,” a college student says. “I don’t know if I’ll get a job when I graduate anyway, so usually I go for the fun. I’m a Christian, but I don’t know how that connects to life right now. Maybe I’ll work on that later.”

“Homeschooling my children was so much work, but I loved it,” a mom said. “But now my oldest son doesn’t want to go to church or do anything. What was it all for?”

How about you? Most likely you also have questions about the meaning, significance, and motivation for what you do. We all want the work we do to make a difference, yet we feel the gap between the realities of daily work and our lives as Christians.

We wonder:

  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • Why do I get so afraid when I make a mistake at work?
  • What should I do with the rest of my life?
  • Is it possible to go to work and not get involved in gossip and politics?
  • My work is unpaid; does that mean it’s not important?
  • Am I a good parent?
  • Why is work so stressful?
  • Is what I’m doing making a difference?
  • What if I lose my job? Who will provide for my family?

These questions are not just about work. They are spiritual questions about faith, meaning, significance, identity, and the struggle with sin. The struggle to bring work and faith together is as old as the fall of humanity. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, they experienced God’s good gifts of work, childbirth, and relationships as broken and hard. We know this isn’t the way it’s meant to be, but we wonder how (and if) our lives can be made whole again.

A Deeper Understanding of Vocation

In Genesis 1 and 2, we see God at work, creating, separating, filling, examining, and declaring all things good. God’s intent was for human life to bind together work, family, personal spirituality, and worship into a seamless tapestry. The need to apply faith to work wasn’t necessary before the fall since Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with God, each other, and creation. One day in the future, the effects of the fall will come to an end. We will see the end result of Christ’s first and second comings. All of life will be made new.

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