Feeling Like It’s Just Plain Work?

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Sometimes my work is ordinary. Boring tasks pile up like dusty, old field rocks. And it seems that somebody wants me to stack them into a long gray wall. I get to thinking, "What's the point? Where's all this going anyhow?" Or, in more desperate moments, I decide, "I was made for more than this." Then, with a disgruntled spirit, I plan my escape.

Certainly, escape may be warranted in a job that's always dissatisfying. But the hard truth is that all work has its share of common moments. Sitting through staff meetings, tracking billable hours, flying to yet one more sales event: these can be vexing times of pure boredom—plain gray rocks in a field that seemed to promise satisfaction.

This is why I like to remember Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy is an artist who works with sticks and stones, grasses and thorns, leaves and mud puddles. Somehow, he sees beyond their simple existence, to what they can be as part of a larger artistic cause. This is nowhere more apparent than in his Stone Wall, which loops across the landscape of an upstate New York art center. If you see it from a passing shuttle bus, obstructed by summer leaves, you may think, "Yup, it's a wall. Nothing spectacular about that."

But if you see it in winter, everything changes. Peering through a crowd of tree skeletons, you immediately think the wall is something altogether grander. You might even secretly decide, "It's a dragon, hiding in the pond, and his tail is slapping across the fields!"

Goldsworthy's treatment of the ordinary rock, piled into an extraordinary wall, is nothing short of incredible. Yet, I wager he doesn't always think he's in creative heaven when he places rock on rock. He must have the big view in mind, to keep himself going.

As a Christian, the big view of my work, what can keep me going, is this thought: my work is not only valuable when it achieves things for me, or when it entertains me. As a person of God, entrusted with "the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:19), my work is valuable for how it brings grace to a landscape of people—those I work with, those I work for, and those who my product or service eventually touches.

Grace, in its broadest sense, is giving what is not deserved or owed. Compliments to a competitive coworker, a kind word to a grouchy manager, the design of a product that has integrity (even if it costs more in time or materials) . . . these are acts which mirror God's own grace to us.

So, even when my work is ordinary, I have the opportunity to build an artful wall of grace—something unexpected and altogether grander. Something that, because it mirrors God's own grace, slaps across the fields of life proclaiming, "How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious . . ." (Ps. 147:1).

Read more from L. L. Barkat at her blog Seedlings in Stone.