So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
When you grow up as the child of a pastor, there’s a certain expectation you will either become wild and wicked, landing yourself on the church prayer list every week, or you will follow in your parent’s footsteps and do something “extremely important” for God. I grew up and chose to do neither.
My parents suggested, in a heartfelt and slightly misguided attempt at career counseling, that I consider nursing. Because I was young and insecure in my natural gifts, I took their advice on the basis that if I didn’t work directly for God, perhaps I might help heal people.
During my nursing years, I attended a church where the pastor often spoke about “Sunday Christians.” He encouraged us to live for Jesus every day of the week, not just the one day we showed up at the church doors. Each time he said this, I sat in the congregation feeling smug. Every day, my job as a nurse gave me obvious opportunities to act like a Christian. I obeyed God’s word when I gave out a cup of water or a pill or a bedpan in Jesus’ name. I thought I had the pattern for Christian living cut out and stitched up. However, beneath the perfunctory tasks, I disliked my job. I complained about most of my patients and counted the minutes until I scrubbed every remnant of my shift from my mind and body.
While nursing felt like holy work in many ways, after six years and seven job changes, I finally admitted it didn’t fit the shape of my soul. Relief flooded through me when my husband agreed I should quit my job to stay home and care for our daughter. I learned early on that parenting a toddler felt far less holy and impactful, and a lot more like repetition and hard work. I struggled to see how my everyday work of running a home and caring for a little person prone to sleepless nights and toddler tantrums impacted God’s Kingdom.
It’s in 1 Corinthians 10:31, that my pastor helped me see the truth. In these words, I discovered my job title doesn’t matter. God doesn’t show any more concern and care for the missionary or pastor than he does for the car mechanic or the businessman or the piano teacher down the street. Honoring God with our daily work begins with the state of our heart, which in turn trickles down to inform the actions of our hands and feet.
Whether I changed diapers on big people or little ones, whether I administered pills or hugs, whether I wrote nursing notes or blog posts, if I did them with great love and right motives, I brought honor to God. Regardless of your current job title, every day this week, you too have the opportunity to eat, to drink, to work, to love—all for God’s glory.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you live like a “Sunday Christian”? Do you question the impact your job has on God’s Kingdom? Are you frustrated by the “ordinary” work of your everyday life? How can you view your daily work as an opportunity to honor God? How can our churches support us in our Monday-through-Friday roles?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for giving each of us the opportunity to serve you in myriad ways. Thank you for the gift of another day in which we have the opportunity to glorify you. Let the work of our hands and our hearts be pleasing to you. Lead us by your Spirit, giving us eyes to see how you are working in our every day. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Kimberly Coyle is a writer, mother, and gypsy at heart. She tells stories of everyday life while raising a family and her faith at her blog, kimberlyanncoyle.com. She writes from the suburbs of New Jersey, where she is learning how to put down roots that stretch further than the nearest airport. Connect with her on Twitter @KimberlyACoyle.
The Local Church Equipping Us in Our Vocations
This article is part of a series at The High Calling on "The Local Church Equipping Us in Our Vocations." It seems that in many church contexts, what we do Monday through Friday is the least important thing. But shouldn't Christ be the Lord of our work as much as the Lord of our church's ministry programs, our marriages, and our families? Here at The High Calling we not only want to equip and empower the laity to live out their faith in their vocations, but we want to inspire church leaders to equip their people to do so as well. How can church leaders help their congregants to steward their vocations? How can church communities embrace a discipleship paradigm that includes the workplace? If you want to inspire people in your church community to embrace how the vocations of lay people glorify God, why not encourage them by sharing links to these articles in emails, Facebook posts, or through some other social media?
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.
Thanks to everyone who has invested in the Theology of Work Project! Thanks to your generosity, we were able to meet all our needs for 2017! We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers and charitable giving in 2018 as we equip Christians to connect to God's purposes for work.