Growing up it was my job to make sure the yard was mowed. And I had massive hay fever. I can even one-up that: according to my allergist, I’m allergic to grass. I hated that job. Eventually I got a job at our local meat market and I liked it. I never got the chance to put up one of those posters with the strips of paper at the ends that you rip off that read "Alan’s Lawn Care Service.” Needless to say, since I worked at the butcher shop, my poster with the strips of paper with “Alan’s Bologna Service” wasn’t a hit.
I wasn’t meant for lawn care. Neither are you.
Sometimes we view our careers this way. We work jobs that we are not passionate about. Not only that, we work careers that aren’t healthy either (family health, relational health, spiritual health, etc). We settle for “i’m just working here to get my paycheck so I can eventually do what I truly love.” I want to challenge that thought.
I’m convinced that our career and calling should not be separated…cannot be separated. Strong statement coming: Hating your current job is hating your current calling. You are called to work. God’s purpose for Adam was to work in the Garden. It’s in the Garden we find out what we are made to do:
"God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground. The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 1:28, 2:15
Mankind’s purpose is to “work and care” for the Garden of Eden. Work is a precondition of Adam before the fall and not a result of the fall. The only thing that happened that affected work was that it became harder for Adam… But work was always God‘s original design. As a matter of fact, the original word meaning for Eden is “delight.” Your work is to lead you to grow and cultivate delight in your life. In other words, you were created to to do work that gives you amazing enjoyment, pleasure and deep satisfaction.
Sometimes however, we can view our purpose in God's design as a “hired lawncare service" when we are doing our jobs. Meaning, we don’t “own” our place in the Garden but simply “fill a spot to do a job” until we find our "real place" and then we take our jobs and our places seriously.
That’s not what God intended. God's intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation. Maybe that’s why hating your job could be one of the worst feelings you could experience. Maybe that’s why losing your job is so devastating. You were made for work, "delightful work” and anything short of that is falling short of God’s purpose for you and the calling for your life. A line from John Mark Comer’s book below says this:
““Work is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. That’s what you’re looking for-the intersection between what you love and what your world needs.” ”
— John Mark Comer, from the book, Garden City
This doesn’t mean that your calling always has to be glamorous. We tend to elevate those with the loudest voices, the greatest talent and best looks. However for communities to thrive, God needs everyone to do their job which makes everyone's work valuable. We need those who care for the children, deliver the mail, make the hotel beds, cook the fast food burgers, grow the crops and collect the recycle bins just as valuable. Those who work in these industries, fields and careers are needed to work together to make a culture that we can thrive in.
“God’s intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation.”
This doesn’t mean you won’t have a "bad day" at work. We deal with a broken world and broken people. So our world, our job, will be difficult at times. However, it does mean that despite the kind of day you’re having, when you see that what you do as God's purpose for your life...what you were made to do will be meaningful, significant and bring you purpose and joy to your life. When you walk into your job, your business, your place work...your original design and purpose is to creatively partner with God and take the world somewhere significant.
You might be thinking, “I like what you’re saying but this doesn’t really apply to my part-time cashier job at American Eagle does it?”
One. Stop working FOR God and start working WITH God
Here’s the point: you are a co-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). That means you are not working FOR God but WITH God. That makes you a partner and partnership is critical. It makes you an owner of your workplace because it's not a position you took but a place you are called to be in. It makes you a lover of your co-workers because they are God's creation that you get to care for and grow. It makes you a steward of responsibility that God has given you to make your work environment a better place because you aren't made to punch a clock or earn a paycheck. You create systems, experiences and relationships that make others want to come back tomorrow. Why? Because they are seeing and experiencing Jesus.
Two. Let Your “Work Station” Become Your “Worship Station“
They see you worshipping Jesus. The word "work" in Genesis 2 in the original Hebrew means “abad” which means…”worship.” You were made to worship. You are made to “create Eden” in your community. You working is you worshipping which means you are continuing what God intended from the beginning.
Three. Stop Having A Career And Start Following Your Calling
God makes it clear that “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). God isn’t into separating our career from other calling but that they are one in the same. Some of us are called to be a teacher and use our educational degree to champion the next generation. Some of us are creative geniuses at numbers and that is your calling in life…to "work the numbers." Some of us are burdened with a desire to serve the community or nations with non-profit work or start our own endeavor. Some of us are called to partner with the church and work inside the church and pursue a career in the church world building and equipping leaders. Whatever we do in life, it all works together for the good when we center ourselves on discovering our purpose and walking out that purpose authentically (Romans 8:28).
You’re challenge today: Stop being a lawn-care service and own your yard.