It’s important to recognize that at many stages in world history, people didn’t have a lot of choice as to what kind of “normal” work they did. The job market wasn’t always as wide open as it is for us today. This is especially true when we think about the slaves and bondservants whom Paul wrote to (Colossians 3:22-25, Ephesians 6:5-8, 1 Corinthians 7:21-24, Titus 2:9-10). They had no choice but to do what they were told. And it would have been encouraging for them to hear that their work, whatever it was, mattered for eternity when they did it for Jesus.
But many of us—especially those of us who are younger—have a lot more choice in the kind of work that we will do. And so I would encourage all of us to consider ways in which we can make our “normal” work line up with our good works as much as possible. If you have the freedom to choose what kind of work you’ll do, why not choose work that allows you to do as much good work as possible, and which connects as closely as possible with God’s purposes for planet earth?
I have a book on my shelf called 80,000 Hours, published by an organization of the same name. Their goal is to help people make a difference with their careers, and so they ask questions like, “what are the world’s most pressing problems?” and “which jobs help people the most?” The goal, according to them, is to choose a career that will do the most good for the world.
To my knowledge, these folks aren’t Christians and aren’t operating out of a Biblical worldview. I disagree with many of their specific suggestions. And yet I believe that this way of thinking is on the right track. If you get to pick what you do, why not pick something that does as much good as possible?
What would it look like for followers of Christ to think this way within a Biblical worldview? Yes, it’s true that all of our work (as long as it’s not sinful or harmful) can honour the Lord and count for eternity. We know that so many of our “normal” jobs have eternal impact, like we discussed on the blog here this week.
But if we have the option, why not choose a job that lets you do as much good work as you can? Parents, as you talk to your children, why not encourage them to choose a career that puts them as close to the front lines of the mission of God in the world as possible?
Making these kinds of choices is easier than ever in today’s globally-oriented economy, in which so many “normal” jobs are valuable assets around the world. I love hearing stories about mechanics and bankers and teachers who choose to move overseas and do their “normal” work in a part of the world untouched by the gospel. I love hearing about university students who intentionally get a degree in a field that will give them access to an otherwise restricted country. These people might not look like your typical missionaries, but they are in that country—working their jobs, building relationships, starting conversations, using whatever opportunities they have—for the sake of the gospel.
This is just one example of a way to more intentionally connect your work with the good work God has called us to. Have any suggestions of your own? Any questions about how you could do this more yourself? Send me a note; I’d love to talk.