Calling to Life, Not Only to Work

Article / Produced by TOW Project
Types of gods calling

Although we are focusing on God’s call to work, work is only one element of life. God calls us to belong to Christ in every element of our lives.

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Our jobs are not necessarily the most important aspect of our calling or our service in Christ’s work of redemption. First, we must remember that work is not limited to paid work. The work God leads us to may be unpaid work, such as raising children or caring for a disabled family member or tutoring students after school. Even if we are called to paid work, God probably doesn’t call many of us to jobs that would prevent us from also serving others through unpaid work.

Even if you have a paid job, the most important work God calls you to may be outside your job. Your job may meet your need for money — which in itself fulfills part of God’s command to work — but it may not fulfill all the other purposes God has for your work. We have seen that caring for children and for aged or incapacitated people is a kind of work, and many people who do it also have another paid job. On the other hand, a so-called hobby could be the most important work God is leading you to. You might work at writing, painting, music, acting, astronomy, leading a youth group, volunteering at a historical society, maintaining a nature reserve or a thousand other kinds of work. If something like this is your calling, you will probably engage it in a more serious way than someone else to whom it is a leisure activity, yet you may still earn your living in some other way. There is a distinction between work and leisure.[1] But any given activity could be work — paid or unpaid — for one person, and leisure for another.

Of course, if you have a job, it is an aspect of your calling for as long as you have it. Regardless of how your job relates to the other activities you are called to, you must do your job as unto God (Colossians 3:23). Therefore, a job can never be only a way to make money. It must also a way to serve others, a way to make the world more like God what intends, and a way to be formed by God. You might not consider your job to be a major aspect of your calling, but God might be using it to prepare you for the future in ways you can't imagine. If you ask God to help you do your job faithfully and to make the most of whatever opportunities it may offer, then it will never be a waste of time.

Second, we must take care not to let work dominate the other elements of life. Even if God leads you to a particular job or profession, you will need to set limits to that work to make room for the other elements of God’s call or guidance in your life. If God leads you to be married and to be a small business owner, for example, then you will have to balance the time and responsibilities of both callings. Work should not crowd out leisure, rest and worship. There is no formula for balancing work and the other elements of life. But take care not to let a sense of calling to a job blind you to God’s calling in the other areas of life. For more on this, see the TOW Project article "Rest and Work."