Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Loving the Work You Do

So, last week I posted (here) that there is always time to do the work God has called you to do. Always.

Today I want to talk about something else that has been on my heart lately. Its the idea that Christians should not wholesale imbibe worldly philosophies. Philosophies like doing the work you love.

This is not to say that there is anything fundamentally wrong with doing the work you love. There isn't.

The Barefoot Hippies doing work together

Nor is it to say that Christians are called to be miserable on the path to holiness. We're not. We are called to joy.

I've been stewing on this topic all summer. I read and really enjoyed two books earlier this summer-

168 Hours-You Have More Time than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller

I wrote several times about principles I learned from both books. Both books were enlightening, and very helpful. One was written by a Christian, and one by someone I'd guess is not a Christian. But I don't know that for sure.

One idea that resounds through both books is that people should focus on their core competencies, and leave everything else for someone else. Core competencies are things that only you can do. They are the things that make you, as a person, uniquely you. They are generally areas that you enjoy.

And I appreciate that. Who wants to spend the majority of their time doing a job or activity that they don't enjoy? Or that they even hate?

I realize that our generation is different from past generations. People used to hold jobs/vocations their entire life. Now job duration tends toward a couple years. Due to our economy, people are getting let go from jobs left and right.

Even without that, I've noticed a trend in younger people...people my age. They don't stick with a job.

Why is that? A big factor is often the need to make more money to support a growing family. Sometimes it is bad work environments. Sometimes is is simply because the job isn't fun.

I find the idea of work being "fun" rather humorous. Work is work. Work is hard. Work is satisfying. Work can be fulfilling. Work should be meaningful.

After all, when was work instituted in this world of ours? In the Garden of Eden, that perfect environment God created for Adam and Eve to live in. God gave Adam work to do. He was to dress and keep the garden. God brought the animals to Adam to name. (Genesis 2:15,19) Meaningful work.

The stakes changed with the entrance of sin into the world. Adam was told that now he was going to eat in sorrow. He would sweat and work hard for food, his entire life. Sweat, thorns and thistles. The result of sin.

Adam's descendants soon found work in gardening, farming, raising animals, forming metals, construction and making instruments.

Solomon, the wisest man on earth has a bit to say on the subject of work. He wrote in Ecclesiastes that to rejoice in your labor is the gift of God. (5:19)

Which leads me to believe that loving our work is not a bad idea.

Though I have one more Biblical example, our prime example, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:1,2 say that He endured the cross. Redemption is arguably Jesus Christ's greatest work. But it doesn't say He loved the cross-He endured (put up with it, stood strong) for the joy set before Him. He was looking beyond the work to the reward-our salvation. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world-not the cross.

What I am afraid is getting missed in this whole discussion is the idea that Christians have a higher call on their life than just doing what they love. Our call is to do what God loves. Our call is to do what God wants us to do.

Whatever you are considering doing-life, activities, employment, ministry-all has to be sifted through the filter of God's call. Not just your loves. 

God often calls us to something that we don't want to do. That we don't feel gifted in. That we would never pick for ourselves. It is so God's grace and equipping can shine through our brokenness and result is glory being given to God.

If the only basis for choosing what to do is what you love doing, you are going to find yourself in a quandary. What if I don't like scrubbing toilets, and can't find or pay someone else to do them? Does that mean I should never scrub the toilet?

What about the ancient idea of duty? A moral or legal obligation. Responsibility. Duty is doing what you have to do, whether or not you really want to do it. Or like doing it.

But, even more poignant than scrubbing toilets, how about this situation...

After reading these two books, I determined I would spend the best hours of my day (mornings) this summer doing what I love, doing my core competencies. That would be writing my blog, and hanging with my kids. It was a great plan that worked marvelously all summer.

And screeched to a halt with the start of school. I love writing my blog. I love writing first thing in the morning so my posts can greet all of you, first thing in the morning. But school has to happen. In the mornings. Not at 2:00, when I get my post for the day finished.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really enjoy home schooling my kids. But, on any scale, blogging is much more fulfilling and much less stressful than teaching kids. It is. Just me and my thoughts versus me teaching 3 kids, plus dealing with a fourth missing her buds.

My spirit was restless that entire first week. I was fighting this schedule. I was not at peace with what God wanted me to do.

Until I surrendered to God's will, I had no peace. I wasn't able to enjoy either the blogging or the schooling.
He's got the look better than me. I can't "act" serious.

While I was just focusing on the work I love and my frustration at not being able to do it when I thought was best, I was unable to enjoy anything in my life.

The same holds true for life, jobs, ministry and church.

It is not glorifying to God for Christians to be complaining about their jobs or church situations. We need to evaluate if God is trying to move us on, or if He wants to grow us in the unpleasant, unloveable situation.

Maybe you need to go find the work you love. The work God is calling you to.

Maybe you need to ask God to fill your heart with joy, contentment, and even love for that unloveable work.

It's finding contentment in the place you find yourself. Not letting hopes for the future and worries of the past, rob you of current enjoyment and blessing.

Maybe its semantics, but are you doing the work you love, or are you loving the work you do?

***Today I am guest posting over at DogFur and Dandelions about why I blog. Click on the button for a look see.

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