Work for God: Great Things Can HappenBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Throughout the week, we’ve highlighted thinkers, theologians, marketplace philosophers and ordinary people who are simply trying to make sense of the topic, Work for God. It’s been an insightful journey—and one we’ll never fully grasp this side of glory. Like labor itself, every day brings a new discovery.
Here at the High Calling, it’s a topic we’ve explored for almost a decade now, and our umbrella organization, the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, has been promoting it for more than a half a century. To be honest, we still are learning. It’s a mystery, much like the wonder of creation, subsequent destruction, and ultimate renewal by grace.
The holy union of the physical work of men and women and the sanctifying work of God has a shared core that resonates within all of us. And when these two come together, the world can change.
Serving God Through Good Service
Philip Yancey’s brand new book Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News describes a holy order of women whose primary mission is to provide the highest calling of service in a restaurant setting. It’s a common occupation, but how they do it is a thing of magnificent beauty.
Yancey visited their restaurant in Peru, Lima. It’s called Agua Viva in Spanish, or “Living Water.” He found it to be “among the best meals he had ever eaten,” and at “a very modest price.” Beyond the value of the food, he was struck by the service, the attitude, and graciousness of the staff.
When asked about their faith, the manager told Yancey, “Don’t ask us how our prayer life is going; look at our food. Is your plate clean and artfully arranged? Does your server treat you with kindness and love? Do you experience serenity here? If so, then we are serving God.”
The order operates restaurants around the world with the same model of service and high calling.
I asked Yancey how we can best restore this sense of working for God. This is what he said:
We need to see God as the God of this life as well as the next. Followers of Jesus on earth are building pioneer settlements of the Kingdom, demonstrating a different way to be human than the selfish, violent rules much of the planet follows. Workplace is an ideal proving ground for what we believe.
When we talk about working for God, this is a prime example of how it should be done: labor that is performed with such thoroughness and efficiency it actually reflects praise on the Creator. This attitude is what drove much of the discovery and culture during the Renaissance. Suddenly, architects no longer just designed buildings; they built glorious structures to God. Painters reflected on the natural world as worship. Scientists delved into God’s creation, simply for the wonder.
Marlon Hall, in a video interview with The High Calling, reflects on this period as a time of great awakening, when ideas and people connected. When our faith and our work intersect, great things can happen.
David Duchemin, who bills himself as a “humanitarian photographer,” writes this: “Forget who pays for your work. Who cares about your work? What does your work make others care about?” These are not questions for the faint of heart.
Work with a Purpose
This week at the High Calling, we’ve heard from Faith in the Workplace pioneer Randy Kilgore who wrote about those who work for God with passion. “The tapestry of their everyday lives is filled with moments where they do their jobs as works of art, laid before the King.”
We also heard from Laura Lynn Brown, who relates how her Christian faith integrates with her job as a copy editor at a newspaper. She finds her values interacting with all kinds of decisions—even which comics to run. Laura calls it her “uh-oh sensor”—that Holy Spirit compass that guides us in the day-to-day and squirms uncomfortably when we leave Him in a box at home.
After he left full-time ministry in order to teach, Will Ratliff learned about the calling of the marketplace. He shared his story with us on Tuesday and wrote this: “God cares infinitely more about my character than my career choices.”
The message of the week? No matter where we are employed or what we do, we can still Work for God.
Work for God
Whatever work you do, it matters to God. And you can glorify God through your work. God doesn’t give more points or ascribe more value to pastoral or missionary or non-profit work. God looks at you and the work you do in your cubicle or classroom or kitchen or conference call, and all of it matters to him. It’s not just ministers who work for God. No matter what type of work we do, let’s do it to the glory of God. This series, Work for God, reminds us to do all of our work as if we were working for God, because we are.