What Do You Do: Where We Find Our Worth
“What do you do?”
It’s a standard question when adults first meet, and most of us have a short answer ready.
I’m a doctor. Pastor. Teacher. Stay-at-home mom. Writer. Engineer. Waitress.
Our occupation is not only our source of income, it can also become our identity and the primary source of our worth.
Who We Are Informs What We Do
However, for those of us with the "Upside-Down Kingdom” stamped on our second birth certificate, our identity and worth are found in what our Father says about us.
We are created in his image, fearfully and wonderfully made, chosen in him before the foundation of the world, held in his hand, taught by his Spirit, shielded, shepherded, loved, cherished, adopted.
This is who we are. But what are we to do?
Consider others as more important than ourselves. Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Forgive as we’re forgiven. Strive for peace with everyone. Let our light so shine that people see our deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.
We’re called to die to our selfish ambitions and rigid agendas and follow the example of Jesus, who laid aside his garments, knelt on the floor, and washed the dusty, stinky feet of men who claimed to love Him but still didn’t understand what He came to do.
Jesus modeled for them (and us) what greatness looks like in the Upside-Down Kingdom, where the weak confound the mighty, the meek inherit the earth, and the pure in heart see God. Then he said, “You also should do just as I have done to you.”
In a culture that celebrates individuality and fosters entitlement, God invites his people to live in true community, to build bridges instead of walls, and to take the lowest place with hilarious joy. In essence, he says:
While others climb the ladder to success, you strive to become the servant of all, to lift up the lonely, and to love the least.
While others celebrate intellect, physical beauty, and talent, you pray for eyes to see as God sees.
While others fight for their rights, you turn the other cheek, go the second mile. If someone asks for your coat, give him your shirt as well.
While others pursue power and wealth, you embrace the faith of a little child and trust your Father’s plan.
And when you stumble—because you will stumble—admit your mistakes. Ask for forgiveness and pray for the courage to change.
What Do We Really Do?
No matter what role we play in life, as citizens of the Upside-Down Kingdom we’re learning to focus on the eternal.
For the stay-at-home mom, one day the cooking, cleaning, and laundry will pass away. (Can I get an “Amen”?) But the prayers, loving discipline, patient listening, and lifestyle of forgiveness, honesty, and generosity? These bear fruit into eternity.
For the doctor, the surgeries, prescriptions, and procedures are temporary. But genuine compassion, a gentle tone, and words that provide hope and comfort? These last forever.
The same principle applies to the writer, waitress, engineer, or teacher. Ultimately, what we do isn’t about the location of our desk, the style of our uniform, or the label we wear. It’s about becoming broken bread and poured-out wine for a dying world.
We’re ordinary water pots lined up against a wall. No fancy adornments or distinguishing labels. Only a humble readiness to be filled and poured out and filled and poured out again. And when the need arises? The Son of God doesn’t ask for a gilded pitcher. He chooses us.
The thirsty take a sip.
And the water turned to wine goes down easy.
What Do You Do?
If you sit with someone long enough, included in the initial small talk (“Where do you live?” “How do you know so-and-so?”) someone in the conversation will inevitably ask, “What do you do?” What are we looking for when we ask that question? And what do we hear when we’re on the receiving end of that question?
What we do is important stuff in this world, and God desires greatly to be invited into what it is we find ourselves doing every day. God takes delight in the work of our hands. But do we sometimes confuse what we and others “do” with who we are and, especially, who we are in Christ? Would our question change if we thought about it more deeply? And what about our answer? How about you? What Do You Do?