In Joseph Conrad’s revealing book, “Heart of Darkness,” he makes a statement that cuts to the heart of work for many of us. He stated, “No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not others—what no other man can ever know.”1
God Created Us to Work
Getting out of bed on Monday morning to begin our workweek may come as a welcome challenge or a drudgery of perceived meaninglessness. Much of this has to do with our perspective rather than the actual job being done. Once we gain a healthy perspective on God’s intention for work, what we do has less significance than how we do it: as worship to God.
When we look back to Genesis in the Bible, right after man was created, God put him to work. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it," (Genesis 2:15 NIV). Work was a gift from God. Adam was never meant to have a leisured, unemployed life, but a life of purpose, responsibility and production. It was not aimless foraging around Eden. It was an intentional identity in oversight, nurture and enjoyment entrusted to Adam.
God Takes Satisfaction in Our Work
“Adam not only cared for Eden, the Bible tells us that God brought the animals to Adam to name them," (Genesis 1:19, 20). One can only imagine the elation God experienced as He revealed each new species to Adam awaiting his response with the one He loved as the peak of His creation. There are a lot of animals which is a lot of work.
There are echoes of God’s pleasure in our work in a parable taught by Jesus when the master looks to his servants’ work and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share in your master's happiness," (Matthew 25:21). God does not need our services. However, we need to understand that work changes us. It refines us, it humbles us, it broadens our understanding and in many ways, it creates who we are to become. God’s interest is in who we become as He entrusts us with one life to live and to work for him.
How We Work Is How We Worship
It is irresponsible to compartmentalize work and worship. If God entrusts us with a purpose, our work is to live out that purpose. Therefore, our work is worship. If we cannot worship God while we work, we may have to reassess our attitude toward worship or what we are doing. One can do the most menial job and make it worship if we do it as unto the Lord.
Paul addresses this perspective even to slaves but continues to encourage us as he states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters," (Colossians 3:23). To refuse to work is a worship problem, not a work problem. It goes to the fundamental practices of life. Are we on time? Do we meet deadlines? Are we faithful to our jobs, no matter what they are? God is glorified in our vocations, living out our purposes with an attitude of worship in all we do as work.
1Conrad, Joseph. (1980). Heart of Darkness. Easton Press.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.