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Why work? the motivations of our heart

Galatians 1:10

What motivates our work? I would suggest we work for one of two reasons: either we work for ourselves, or we work for God. This is the Gospel: either we worship ourselves or we worship God. Our hearts are geared to worship: the question is what do we worship?

Furthermore, if we work for ourselves, part of that motivation is to win the approval of others. In this sense we are looking over our shoulders to see the reaction of our work colleagues, and the circle we associate with outside of work. We need approval- we crave approval of people.

If we work for God, the Gospel produces confident and fearless followers of Jesus, doing what is right without concern for the approval and good opinion of others#. We do not change our heart motivation by manufacturing a rule: ‘Thou shall not work to win the approval of others’. Too often this is how the gospel is taught: we want rules so that we can look down on others and measure them against ourselves, and we always come out on top!

What does it mean “to work for God”? Firstly, it does not mean that we must be “in ministry”. The idea that only ministers are working for God is just not true. This was understood as far back as Martin Luther, who said ” their -that is ‘lay people’- seemingly secular works are a worship of God and an obedience well pleasing to God”  Luther’s Works eds J Pelikan and DE Poellot. There is no such division in the Gospel between lay ministers and ministers, even if that division exists in some churches. Christ followers have long been bluffed into this kind of thinking, and it is time that we clicked the Gospel and lived and talked in its light. All jobs are fundamentally ways of loving your neighbour. Christians do not have to do direct ministry or charitable work in order to love others through their jobs#.

To work for God means that we see the world and work ‘ablaze with the glory of God’s work through the people he has created believers and non- believers and called- in everything from the simplest actions, such as milking a cow, to the most brilliant artistic of historic achievements. This revolutionary way of looking at work gives all work a common and exalted purpose: To honour God by loving your neighbours and serving them through your work#.

What it also means is that we serve God best by doing the work we do as well as it can be done: competent work is a form of love#. We discover that the very actions of daily life are spiritual and enable us to touch God in the world, not away from it#.

Oh that we who are called by Christ would ‘preach’ his Gospel by being really good at what we work at!



# I can not claim these thoughts as my own but have drawn them from Tim Keller: Every good endevour. 

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Work and Faith

    How we work—in the context of our particular culture, time in history, vocation, and organization—is something we all need to be thinking through in our own communities. But the answers will all hang on this essential theology: the knowledge of who God is, his relation to man, his plan for the world, and how the good news (or gospel) of Christ turns our lives and the way we work upside down. Katherine Leary Asldorf in “Every Good Endeavour: connecting your work to God’s plan for the world”, Timothy Keller, Hodder& Stroughton 2012.

To my fellow Christ followers:-

The gospel changes us, right? We are ‘used by God’ in our relationships with others, right? So how do you show/tell/ make it known that you are a Christian at your place of work?

Do you Keep a Bible on your desk, hoping that someone in the office would ask about it? Pray for your company, especially before pay day? Pray aloud at every meal in the company canteen to show that you are a Christian? Think your job is a means to make money so that you can give some of it away to charities and NGO’s that do “good work”? Think that you only really serve God by working in the Church – as a missionary, priest or ‘full time’ worker? Your job is just a job, it has little to do with what you do on a Sunday?

Are you told by your pastor, minister or priest that your sole mission at work and in the workplace is to evangelise other employees? And is your response: but evangelism is not my ‘spiritual gift”?

None of these approaches address the issue of how Christians’ faith affect the way we work.

Do you agree that:- The gospel assures me that God cares about everything I do and will listen to my prayers. He may not answer them the way I want, but if he doesn’t it is because he knows things I do not. My degree of success or failure is part of his good plan for me. God is my source of strength and perseverance. The gospel reminds us that God cares about the products we make, the companies we work for, and the customers we serve. He not only loves us, but also loves the world and wants us to serve it well. My work is a critical way in which God is caring for human beings and renewing his world. God gives us our vision and our hope. The gospel is good news. In the words of pastor and counselor Jack Miller, “Cheer up: You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” In other words, I will continually err and sin, and yet God will prevail in my life through his goodness and grace. The gospel gives meaning to our work as leaders. We’re supposed to treat all people and their work with dignity. We’re to create an environment in which people can flourish and use their God-given gifts to contribute to society. We’re to embody grace, truth, hope, and love in the organizations we create. We’re to express our relationship with God and his grace to us in the way we speak, work, and lead, not as perfect exemplars but as pointers to Christ. Katherine Leary Asldorf in “Every Good Endeavour: connecting your work to God’s plan for the world”, Timothy Keller, Hodder& Stroughton 2012.

Most of us have absorbed ideas about work such as that work is a necessary evil- we work to make money to support our families and pay others to do the stuff we hating doing –like the dishes and ironing clothes. We think –and often say- that some jobs are better than others: why be a teacher a teacher? You must be crazy -or not very clever- shame heh? when you could be a marketing manager? People who do work deemed by our society and society is made up of us, isn’t it to have lower status and are paid less are regarded as being unfortunate ‘She’s a domestic worker- well at least she’s employed”.

Would it surprise you to find that these ideas go back to the ancient Greeks? That’s right Aristotle and Plato and the Boys. So why do we STILL repeat these as if they are home truths?

Follow these blogs and embark on a journey of discovery and enlightenment as we uncover the truths of the gospel and learn together to apply them to our work.

Note and disclaimer

This blog is highly influenced by Timothy Keller’s book, “Every Good Endeavour: connecting your work to God’s plan for the world”, published by Hodder& Stroughton 2012

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