All worthy work finds its goal in worship

I found myself “pondering the great mysteries of life” as I prepared to write this column.

Some stuff I’d heard different friends and colleagues talking about was bouncing around my head, and I was enjoying the various tendril of thought, when a sudden terror pounced upon me like a sopping wet sheepdog: I’m not working! I’m just sitting here daydreaming!

See, I flatter myself to be an industrious chap. A little downtime here and there is a psychological necessity to be sure, but long spans of leisure are discouraged at a daily newspaper. Someone’s got to “feed the beast,” and a cursory glance at the masthead indicates that’s my department. But I digress…

My intellectual meandering was prompted by a question a good friend of mine asked, suggesting that we pursue our waking hours as a means of worship instead of looking upon our daily work routine as toil.

“I wonder if our results would be different?” he said. “Might be worth a try.”

Around 3,000 years ago King Solomon asked what has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?

“For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation,” it reads in the second chapter of Ecclesiastes. Indeed, it seems so little has changed.

I do confess that, in my truculent and wearier moments I feel constrained by what I produce; bound to the work of my hands, my intellect, and will. That my work is a burden to be endured for a time, until relief comes at the close of the day. But, to continue Solomon’s point, this is vanity.

Work is woven into the fiber of human existence. When my children tire of their chores or school work and complain that they would rather play, my wife and I are quick to remind them that work of one form or another shall forever be with them, so they might as well learn to enjoy it rather than complain.

One time my son countered this by asking me how, precisely, he was to enjoy a particularly tedious task involving a rake, a yardful of leaves, and an unceasing south wind.

I suggested he enjoy the fact I provided him a rake to do the job, and did not require him to use his bare hands.

Later, when he was finished (and flustered by how long and difficult the task proved to be) I talked with him about what he had accomplished, explaining to him that by accomplishing that task, I was then able to pursue other work that needed skills beyond his own. That he occupied a vital role within our family, with certain talents and abilities, and could perform jobs his younger siblings could not.

On a practical level, there are many duties that need to be done in a functional civilization. Everyone who wishes to be a part of that civilization must do their part in accordance with how they are able or problems will soon emerge.

But far surpassing this, work is a moral imperative bequeathed to us by own Creator toward His redemptive work in the world.

One of the purposes of our existence is to seek the work we were made to do, and I believe that finding the right work is like re-discovering your own soul. The deeper meaning behind why we do what we do is no mere chance or coincidence, but has been interwoven with the very fabric of our being. Ultimately we do what we do because, on some level, it is what we want.

But work cannot escape being worship also…

…it just comes down to what exactly the object of the worship is to the person doing the work.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I see my work as being nothing less that a way and means to worship God.

My work has intrinsic value only insofar as it testifies to the glory of God’s creating and hand in the world. Faith and work, therefore, are seamless and my work another mere expression of my life in Christ.

Work is worship.

Every worthy labor, Thomas Carlyle says, has its summit in Heaven and the idle soul is a monster.

So work with all your might, and never let any task come to pass that does not find its heart and aim be your utmost for His highest.

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