Your Job Is More Important Than You Think
The eternal significance of everyday work.
“So you’re going to make Christian movies, right?” a woman from my church asked after learning that I was in film school. “Should I look for your name in the next Facing the Giants movie?”
After encountering this question countless times during college, I began wondering why Christians seem to believe that we must take on explicitly spiritual roles in order to honor God. Was being a Christian filmmaker the only way to glorify God? Is going into full-time ministry the sole option for devoted Christians? Why do we sometimes act like only those in full-time ministry are full-time Christians?
Here are a few things we should remember about what it truly means to have a Christ-centered view of work:
1. We Are All in Full-Time Ministry
In the Church, we often elevate the role of pastor, missionary or spiritual teacher above all others. These roles are incredibly vital, but we must not make the mistake of believing that they are the only ones that matter within the body of Christ.
Jerram Barrs wrote, “We think that only evangelism, only preaching the Gospel, only teaching the Word is of real importance to the Kingdom of God—everything else is secondary … but that simply is not Biblical. He has equally called people to be in other work and to honor Him, whatever their occupation.”
When C.S. Lewis was asked if the world needed more Christian writers, he responded, “No, we need more writers who are Christian.” In other words, we need individuals who glorify Christ through every job that they hold, regardless of their title. We need individuals who love God, live with honesty and integrity, strive for excellence and pursue truth, beauty and goodness in every endeavor.
Although I love my current job, I’ve sometimes wondered whether I need to be in full-time ministry in order to truly glorify God. However, as Barrs went on to write, “Whatever job you do, it is a holy calling, a sacred calling, a responsibility given to you by God to serve Him there.”
Rather than thinking that only those in full-time ministry or ministry related jobs are truly please God, we need to remember that every job is important. What if we stopped dividing between “sacred” and “secular” and instead sought to love God and others through every job that we hold?
We don’t need to be in full-time ministry in order to do ministry. We can minister in our current jobs through working wholeheartedly, treating our coworkers and clients with respect and realizing that our careers can be a way to worship God. We can minister in our professions through making sure that our words, actions and decisions are representing Christ well. We can minister in our careers through striving for excellence in our craft, and through always demonstrating honesty and integrity.
2. We Are Serving Christ in Every Job
My first post-college job was as a photography assistant for a school pictures service. I woke up around 4:30 each morning, drove to school districts all around Los Angeles, and worked long days for less-than-ideal wages.
Needless to say, I did not enjoy that job.
Then one day I thought about what my response would be if Jesus showed up to have His picture taken. It may sound over-spiritualized, but people are made in the image of God, after all, and if Jesus Himself suddenly appeared, would I greet Him a begrudging, obligatory greeting? Would I be silently tapping my toes, checking my watch and counting down the minutes until I could leave? Or would I serve Him with complete and utter joy, delighting in my menial task simply because I was serving Christ?
The answer is simple, of course. If the God of the universe walked into my pay-the-bills job, I would serve Him with delight. And that knowledge began to change the way I treated that job and the people I interacted with.
Most of us probably won’t get a dream job right out of college. Many of us may deal with difficult bosses, rude coworkers and frustrating situations. Some of us may even spend years toiling away in jobs we can’t stand. Situations such as these can tempt us to become cynical, bitter, discouraged or passive.
But rather than succumbing to these emotions, let’s seek to remember that every job can be an opportunity to serve others as though we were serving Jesus Himself. As Colossians 3:23 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.” Every job may not feel worthwhile or meaningful, but every job can be an opportunity to serve.
3. Serving God Starts Wherever We Are Now
Serving Christ is not about a moment in the future, but about where we are right now. Sometimes the hardest place to serve God is where we are right now, because there’s nothing particularly epic or exciting about it.
Sometimes the idea of serving God in a foreign land sounds much more thrilling than serving Him in our jobs as baristas or retail workers. However, we need to remember that everything we do is an opportunity to serve God. Honoring God is not just about the job that we have, but also about the way we do that job.
As Martin Luther wrote, “The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” Whether we are in dream jobs, stepping-stone jobs or jobs that we can’t stand, let’s use each job as an opportunity to wholeheartedly love God and others.