Your Work Is Worship
One Sunday morning a couple of years ago, my church announced a new program discussing “Faith in the Workplace.” Although I had never thought much about this subject, I was intrigued and decided to check it out, along with many other career-oriented congregants.
My church is located in a bucolic, historically-preserved town that happens to be a stone’s throw from the pharmaceutical Mecca of the Northeast, and is also within commuting distance from both New York City and Philadelphia. Needless to say, we are a church community filled with our fair share of corporate management-types. Once the appointed day arrived and the group had settled in to their seats, the speaker opened the session by asking a very simple question:
“What is the purpose of your work?”
A very simple question, indeed. However, this particular cross-section of intelligent, successful, ambitious men and women from my very sophisticated church were immediately stumped, and sat in embarrassing silence for a few moments.
The speaker prodded us a bit and, one by one we began to speak up, mumbling something in hopes of having the right answer. “Um, to provide for my family?” offered one brave soul, rather tentatively. “To make money,” coughed out another. “To be a good steward!” shouted one suck-up from the back, who was really only repeating something he had heard in last week's sermon.
The speaker was quick to chastise us for our limited spiritual vision, and pointed out that the purpose of our work was instead to glorify God.
The purpose of my work is to glorify God? I knew that. I had just forgotten about it. But when he said it, something inside of me clicked. This little revelation changed everything.
Ever since that day, I have diligently pursued a more conscious effort towards understanding the integration of my work into my spiritual life. This has included reading several books on the subject, writing and blogging about my experiences, and joining up with a local organization promoting spiritual community among business leaders. Not to mention, of course, tyring to make it real every day at my job.
It’s been a fantastically rewarding journey. One of the books I recently picked up is called “Our Souls at Work,” edited by Mark Russell. It is a compilation of talks given by heavy-hitter Christian business leaders addressing the “Believers in Business” conference, an event sponsored by the Yale School of Management’s Christian Fellowship group. It is chock full of practical wisdom coming from leaders of some of the most influential companies in corporate America, discussing their personal take on the intersection of faith and business. In the Forward section of the book, author and activist Dave Gibbons does a wonderful job of further articulating this awe-inspiring theme of how our daily work glorifies God, saying,
“The word glory conveys the idea of beauty. So as we do good work that reflects God’s character…we unleash his beauty. People see God. Our work is a way to worship God. It has intrinsic value and can demonstrate God’s character when we do good work. Faith and work are to be seamless. Work is an expression of our life in Christ. Separating the two is like separating “being” from “doing.” How do you know who you are being without considering what you are doing?”
These few sentences sealed the deal for me as far as pulling together the oft-segregated work and spiritual realms into one happy path towards the Kingdom of God. We cannot separate who we are from what we are doing. How could anyone lead a double-life like that?
So, think about it. The next time you arrive in your office, on the manufacturing plant floor, at your client's site, remember who you are, and then consider what you are doing. Your spiritual life is being expressed through your work. Your work is worship. What a concept. It’s life-changing, actually.