Sixty to eighty percent of a person’s waking hours on this planet are consumed with an activity called “work.” Now, that work can be at home, but it’s work. Now, think of that. If you’re not sleeping or eating, sixty to eighty percent of your waking hours your entire life, you’re doing this thing called “work.”
And so I want to ask you to ponder three questions with me before we talk about what we want to pass on to those we love the most. And whether that’s who we are discipling or our men’s group, our women’s group, our kids, our grandkids – three questions to really think about when we begin to talk about this area of work.
Question number one is: How can you help those you love the most live above the daily grind? Let’s go back to our little analogy where we say, If you knew, from this moment right now, three hundred and sixty five days, you are going to die, and you had three hundred and sixty-five days and you knew people that you love, one of your kids, one of your grandkids, your best friend, someone you led to the Lord, some guys that you’re in a Bible study with, these gals that you love and care for. And you know that sixty to eighty percent of their entire lives are they are going to keep working after you die.
How could you deliver them from the daily grind of: get up, go to work, grab a cup of coffee, come in, go down, eat some supper, do a drive-thru, watch a couple of hours of TV, go to bed, get up, go to…
And then wait for the weekend. That’s how most people are living their lives. Can you imagine the gift it would be if you could pass something on where that would not be their experience?
Question number two is: Why are the majority of Americans dissatisfied with their jobs? And I would say probably maybe well beyond America. But all the research is they are bored, they are unfulfilled, it’s basically almost a paycheck or a necessary evil.
Now, there are great exceptions. You meet people and they say, “I would do this if they didn’t pay me. I love what I do. I was made to do this.” But by and large, the research tells us, most people go to their job, it’s a paycheck, I need the money, but I’m not waking up, there are not a lot of people going, Thank God it’s Monday. It’s Monday! I love it! Monday! Hoo-hoo! Right? Most people are saying, Thank God it’s Friday.
Question number three: how can the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours be transformed from drudgery to delight? Can you imagine being able to pass that on to people?
Now, I’m not saying that every moment of every day, as people are working, it’s just high-fiving each other in the halls or on the job site. But where they would sense a genuine, I can’t believe I get to do this. I was made to do this. I love to do this.
Now, there are pressures with any job, there are demands of any job, we feel overwhelmed at times. But where you could pass on some truth to those you love the most that they would, from this point, to the day they die, actually do what God designed them to do and it would produce a joy in them that is not reserved for the weekends, but would be what they do 24/7, what they look forward to, and it would produce a fruit and an impact in the lives of other people that they would go, Well, I can’t believe, you mean other people are positively impacted by me like this?
And here is the second core value, the transferrable concept, is: teach them to work unto the Lord. And so to do this, I want to jump in and I want to go over a theology of work, because I don’t think we think very clearly or biblically about work.
And it might surprise you. It is not a necessary evil, it’s not bad, God instituted work before sin ever entered the world.
And so what I want to do is talk about a theology of work and then I want to get real practical again and say, “How could you pass on this truth in a way to those that you love the most?”
First of all, then, work is a calling, not a job. That word calling is kind of interesting. You might hear someone say, “Well, what is your vocation?” The Latin word for vocation is calling. Years ago, a hundred years ago or more, when people talked about your vocation, it wasn’t what you do to make money. It was, “What have you been called by God to do?”
It was Martin Luther who said that a shoemaker making a shoe for the glory of God, using his skill, is just as holy as a pastor preaching a sermon. And he used that illustration with many trade jobs. But his point was: we all have a calling. God made us and gifted us differently and when you do that for the glory of God, it is just as holy as “spiritual activity.”
In our culture today, there tend to be two motives for a job or for work. And I will play this out. Let’s say you have a nephew or a friend or someone that you are discipling or one of your kids or a grandchild that is ready to go to college.
And they are trying to figure out what should they major in, right? This is really big. What should I major in? I feel like I’m…
Or, I’m either out of high school and they are, What should I do? Should I go to college or should I get a trade job? Or should I go into business with the family? What should I do?
And here is a parental response that we have learned from our culture. “Well, honey, I don’t know, but we just want you to be happy. It doesn’t really matter to me, I just want you to be happy in whatever you do. Because, see, life is really all about you. You see, we live in a narcissistic society and we want you to know that you are the center of the universe and the only thing that really matters, not how much money or you change your major seven times. Or if you figure out how to squeeze that four-year education into six, we just want you to have fun in that dorm room, to make lots of friends and grow up and be a wonderful, happy little… because that’s how life will be later. Everyone is just going to be coming at the doorstep of your life, trying to make your life work out for you.”
I want to tell you that the answer to the question, though very sincere and in earlier days, I have said it myself, saying to our kids, when they say, “What should I do with my life?” the answer, “I only want you to be happy,” is not biblical, is not smart, is not wise, and will not get them in a good direction.
How much does an eighteen or seventeen year old know or nineteen year old know about what is really “going to make them happy,” or what is best?
The other extreme we have and Christians are more sophisticated in how we communicate this, so on the one extreme it’s we want them to be happy. On the other extreme it’s like in the real roll up your sleeves, pagan world, it’s, “Well, what pays best? Son, you have to make a living. You want to get ahead? Get a good education.”
Or, forget that, I’ll tell you, here’s where the job market is. Here’s where you can make money! The goal of a job is money! Make lots of money! Why? Because you need lots of money! Well, why do you need lots of money? So you can be successful. Well, why do you need to be successful? So you can have a big house! Why do you need a big house? So people will know you’re successful! And then you can have another house and you can buy these kinds of cars and have a purse that has this design and wear a watch that says certain things. Well, you have to have money. Well, why? So you can be fulfilled and you can be powerful and you can have it together and then you can take vacations. Where? Wherever you want! Because money is the key. You have to make a lot of money!
“Well, gosh, Dad, I see a lot of people and they have a lot of money and they don’t seem like they are very happy.” “Hey, just don’t give me all that. Quit talking back. You need to get a good job, a good education, make a lot of money, because you’re a reflection of me. Don’t you understand? I’m vicariously living my life in subtle ways through you. And your SAT scores are a reflection on me. And what college you go to is a reflection on me. And because it’s not really all about you, it’s all about me, I am going to package this in a different way so you think it’s really about you.”
And so we have communicated that work is about either making a lot of money or really being happy. And I want to suggest that God would say it’s about a calling. Those people that you love the most: kids, disciples, best friends, grandkids, Bible study partners – God has a call of what they should do. And when they do what He made them to do, they will have incredible internal joy and incredible external impact.
And with that, then we have to begin to teach again that all work is sacred. All work is sacred. Jot down I Corinthians 10:31. He says, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”
All work is sacred. I had the privilege early when I came to Christ, just right after high school. I went to a college campus and there was a bricklayer with a high school education who was trained by the Navigators. And he had his own business and he would lay brick by day and he opened his home and had a discipleship ministry on this campus by night.
And after two or three years, he began to help me and I was sort of slow, spiritually, and it took me a while to get going. And once I started to grow, then I spent a summer there once and I needed a job. He said, “Well, why don’t you work with me?”
And then later, he started at another campus. His work was a tent-making ministry. And so this campus grew from three of us in the living room to two hundred and fifty students on that campus.
Then he went to another campus and said, “Chip, why don’t you come with me and we will see if God will do this again?” And I said, “Okay.” So I want to learn.
So I didn’t have a job so I am a hod carrier. And that means you mix the mud and he liked to do it by hand for reasons I never did experience, because I’m the guy doing it by hand. And then he had fourteen bricks or twelve bricks and then we did a lot of foundations. And so it was really, really hard work.
And he had a line of people because he was so good. People wanted him to do their work.
And I remember we worked on a foundation and we would work for about a day and a half. And one day he said, “Chip, grab that line.” And I grabbed the line. And he took the line down and snapped it. And he looked this way and took the line down this way. And we had it up about this high, three quarters of the way around on three walls.
And he looked and just, with his foot, he just started kicking the walls down. And I go, “Dave, what are you doing, man?” He said, “It’s out,” and I can’t remember the exact. It was like out a half inch. And I said, “Dave, you’re the expert, but a half inch is like, that is not making a…”
He said, “That’s not good enough for my work.” He said, “Chip, you need to understand. I’m not building this house for these people. I build houses for an audience of One. And when I do my work, it’s not about what other people think. I do my work because this is my offering today to Jesus Christ, and I will not give Him less than my best. I’m not sure how I did it, and I’ve done a lot of foundations. I blew it on this one.”
And he kicked them over and he says, “Clean this stuff away, we’re starting over.” That was worth ten thousand sermons. I learned all work is sacred. And for some of us, especially in that sort of middle to upper class, we have bought a lie that if our kids don’t go to college, somehow they are not successful.
Some of the best, wealthiest, and most successful people that are in my world right now, none of them went to college. They got bored with college. They didn’t like school.
And so they just figured out how to start their own businesses and do what God made them to do and have a lot of fun and be very successful at it.
We have this white-collar, blue-collar, mundane, tell you what: everyone is made to do something different. And the issue is not this little pecking order of status and money. The issue is helping those you love the most discover: what did God make them to do?
And for some of you that, there is a little white hair in the room, and I’m not sure there are some without much hair. And what we understand as we get older, we really care about what our kids do when we are in our thirties and forties. You get into your sixties and seventies, you don’t care what vocation your kids or grandkids have. You care that they love God, they have marriages they stay in, they really care for one another, and they still want to talk to you.
Right? It’s all about character. But you know how character grows is we need to make sure they do and we help them and coach them, not to fulfill our vicarious, “make me look good.” But we want to help them fulfill what God made them to do.
The third theology of work is that our work is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose for our lives. Purpose is they key word there.
The work I am called to do, that you are called to do, that those that you want to pass things on to are called to do, God has a unique design. Jot in your notes: Ephesians 2:10. God has a unique design.
Your job, we are going to learn a little bit later and we will talk about how, is to help them discover the unique design or purpose God has for their lives.
Now, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, many of you have memorized, right? “For by grace we are saved through faith. And that’s not of yourselves. It’s the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest any man should boast.”
Can I highly suggest that you go the next step and memorize verse 10? “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God ordained beforehand, from the foundations of the earth, that we should walk in them.”
We are not saved from our sin by our good works. We are saved by grace as we put our faith in the work of Christ on the cross. But we are saved for good works.
And we are His workmanship. That word workmanship – that word workmanship – we get our English word, poem. It’s the picture of craftsmanship, of a tapestry coming together. It’s a picture of a cabinetmaker doing his finest work, or a sculptor.
You are, if you will, and those you love, they are on this little platform of God creating a beautiful work. You are His workmanship. But now you are created in Christ Jesus, unto a good work.
There is a good work that you are made for, you are gifted for, you are prepared for, you came out of this family for, you have the right height for, you have the right personality for, you have the right spiritual gift deposited in you for, you have some baggage and hurts and pains that you have had to overcome that will fit you for this good work.
God is going to use all things working together to fulfill you doing this good work He has prepared for you.
Well, guess what? That’s what He has for those we love. That what He has for that young guy coming over, that group on Monday nights where we did a Bible study of that twenty-something people. God has that for my sons, God has that for my grandchildren, God has that for a group of women that you are meeting with and maybe going through a Kay Arthur or a Beth Moore study. God has that for the people that you care about at work that you find out they are a Christian and they are starting to ask you questions.
How do you pass on the things that matter most? Work is a calling, all work is sacred, and our work is to flow from our unique purpose.
We are to co-labor with God in this vocation. And you know what? Jot down, if you would, under this, I love Paul’s testimony. It’s I Corinthians 15:10. He really had this one down.
He says, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” He wasn’t trying to be anybody else. “I am what I am by the grace of God and His grace did not prove vain toward me, but I labored more than all of them.” There is responsibility. “Yet not I, but the grace of God in me.”
In other words, Paul understood that, “All my training under Gamaliel, all my baggage, even as a Pharisee, all my legalism, all the blindness I had, even my persecuting of the Church. You know what? God is lovingly redeeming, taking the worst of all my past, realigning it,” and many secular scholars think he was the brightest, really the brightest brain of his century.
“I am what I am by the grace of God.” That’s my dream for those I care about most. I want my kids to look in the mirror and say, You know what? Now, I’ve got a lot of struggles but I am what I am by the grace of God. And His grace did not prove vain toward me.
The Old Testament roots are Genesis 2:15. You have that in your notes where you see this picture of God placing Adam in the garden and there is no sin and He says, “Look, I want you to cultivate.” Ooh. “I want you to rule. I want you to work. I want you to be a co-regent. I want you to be a co-creator. I want you to partner with Me. I am a Creator.”
You know what? Didn’t God do some work for six days and He got a lot done.
So work is not a dirty word. He says, “I want you to get to experience, because you are made in My image. Look, here is this perfect environment. Now, you work. I want you to name things, I want you to build things, I want you to create things, I want you to dream things.”
That’s how we need to see work. It’s to express our creativity, to subdue, to rule, to develop, to make beautiful.
And the two pictures, biblical profiles are Adam that we have talked about, and again Paul. And if you don’t mind, I would love to read. I love the way Paul says this. It’s Acts 20, verse 24. And this is one of those modern translations. But I just love the way he says this.
He says, “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus.” Isn’t that great? And then he understood his. “The work of telling others the good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love.”
Now, ultimately, if you’re called to be a plumber or a builder or a software engineer or a stay-at-home mom; if you’re called to be a professional athlete or an artist or a musician or a businessman or a business woman, then you will tell others about the love of God by actually how you do your work. And by what you say. But that calling is different. His was into full-time, vocational, he was an apostle.
The New Testament command is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do,” now, let’s see, what do you think that would cover? I mean, ponder this. “Whatever.” Gosh, would that have to do with my hobbies? Yeah. Okay, would that have to do when I eat? Yeah. Would that have to do with just when I go to church? No. Is this just “spiritual stuff?” “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
This is revolutionary. Can you imagine what would happen if you were the president of a company and everyone who showed up said, “Hey, I really appreciate you. I know God put you in this place. I don’t work for you. I work for God. I’ll tell you what, I don’t leave early because I work for God. I do my best because I work for God. I submit to authority that I don’t agree with because I work for God. I want to keep improving. I go home and read books about my job because I work for God. I want to develop my gifts because I work for God.”
Can you imagine the difference that would make? Do you see the impact that has? We are all, we want to change the culture and we have tried it in lots of different ways. You want to change the culture? Show up for work and work for God and be an awesome boss, an awesome supervisor, an awesome employee who loves people and does excellent, excellent work and I will tell you what, you’ll change your world and change your culture.