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About this series
Answering the Call
How to Discover and Fulfill God's Purpose for Your Life
God created you to work. And He created your work to be more than just "what you do for a living," but a place to fulfill God's calling in your life. According to Scripture, work is the platform where you can experience joy, ministry, and personal fulfillment like never before. If you long to experience that kind of job satisfaction, this series will help you get there. Whether it's finding a new job, starting a new career, or just gaining a new perspective on your current employment, "Answering the Call" will encourage and inspire you to see work as a gift from God.More from this series
Work is a calling. It’s not a job. It’s not something – TGIF? I hate that! You know what? TGIM, TGIT, TGIW, TGITH, TGIF, TGISAT, TGISUN – that’s life! That’s what I want! I want to thank God for every day of every moment.
And what’s Moses say? The very last psalm he writes, he’s buried a couple million people. He’s seen the sea part. He’s seen the cloud by day, and the fire by night! He’s gone and met the face of God, forty days and forty nights, without water, without food. He’s been held in the cleft of the rock. And what’s he say? The very last words of the very last psalm in Psalm 90: “O, God,” he says first, “give us wisdom, that we might present our days rightly to You.”
And then, he says – what? “Establish the work of our hands.” Make significant the mundane, everyday stuff, where we get our hands dirty, and where life is answering emails, and voice mails, and changing diapers, and cutting grass, and writing out invoices, and paying them. Establish the work of our hands.
Work is a calling, and therefore, all work is sacred. Colossians 3:23 and 24. All work is sacred. “And whatever you do,” he says, “do it heartily, as unto the Lord, not unto men” – why? Verse 24 – “knowing that from the Lord you will receive a reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Notice, then, our work is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose for our lives. It’s not about what “you think will make you happy,” and it’s not about how much money it can make or not make. Because what we know is, we all choose things, and have chosen things, we thought would make us happy, only to find it didn’t. And there are lots of people that are making lots of money that would trade it for a meaningful life.
Ephesians 2:10 – I love this passage: “For we are His workmanship” – circle the word workmanship – “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Our work should flow, the ideal, God’s heart, God’s purpose, is it should flow from the unique design, the unique contribution. You are His workmanship. The word can be used in Greek for a poem. It was used for a tapestry. It was used for a work of art that was uniquely created. You are God’s masterpiece, if you will, uniquely created with just a set of hues and colors. You are designed to do a certain thing that He preordained before the foundations of the earth that you should walk in them, these good deeds, these good things.
The world says you are what you do; work is your identity. I love this. God says do what you are; work is a stewardship. What freedom. He wants you to do what you are.
Well, what are the implications?
First, our work is to be done with excellence. We just looked at the passage in Colossians 3. I learned this from a bricklayer who discipled me. His name’s Dave Marshall. And after I got through with school, I taught, and coached basketball, and in the summers, I would work with Dave. And Dave was a bricklayer; he did foundations, and a lot of chimneys, and a few brick houses. And it was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. And he had this thing, he thought, it’s too much hassle, he had one of those automatic things to mix the mud, and he said, “Oh, we’d spend more time cleaning the thing out, so let’s just do it by hand.” Well, I’m the mud mixer. I didn’t think it was a great idea.
So, all summer I’d take these tongs of bricks, and haydite block, and put them on all – and you climb up to the one platform, and then the scaffolding, and scaffolding. And he was fast, so I’m mixing the mud, mixing the mud; my back’s killing me. And we have this foundation up, about, oh, three or four haydite blocks, almost all, three quarters, all the way around. And Dave says, “Grab that thing.” I grab it, and he gets this level, and some sort – I could never learn to use all the machines he did, whether it was right on, and, and I’d hold this thing down.
And I’ll never forget, he looked at it, he looked at it like this. And then, I still remember the picture of those work boots – Boom! Boom! Boom! I’m going, “Dave, what are you doing? What are you doing?” He goes, “It was out of square.” I said, “How much?” He said, “Well, it’s out more than a fraction. I can give it less than an inch, but it’s over an inch or so out.” And I said, “Well, does that violate some state code?” “No.” “Is the house going to fall down?” “No.” I said, “Well, then, what in the heck are you doing, man? Do you realize how much we’ve worked, and time, and money, and…?” My great spiritual maturity just oozing out.
And I’ll never forget, and he just walked over, and he just kicked down the walls. He said, “Chip, I don’t work for the people I’m building this house for. I build every house, every foundation, every chimney, for God. That means it’s excellent. This foundation is not worthy to be built for Jesus Christ. I messed up. So, now we’re going to do it right.”
That so stuck with me, when my kids cleaned their room. When they cleaned the garage. In my house, you vacuum underneath the rugs. I don’t care who else sees it. I wanted them to learn, early on, we don’t do our work for people. We don’t do our work to get strokes. Now, do we all fall into that? Yeah.
We do our work – the first implication is, the greatest workers in the world ought to be believers. People ought to flat line up and say, “Are you a Christian? I want to hire you.” “Are you a Christian? I want to hire you.” And the fact of the matter is, we’re blowing it.
Our greatest testimony is not what comes out of our mouths, and big Bibles on our desks, and inviting people to church. Our greatest testimony is fellow employees and bosses going, “I don’t know where you came from, but I’d take a dozen of you tomorrow.”
My experience is anymore, I’m buying something from someone, and there’s a fish on the car, and I’m suspect. I’ve been burned by more people who say they’re believers – and maybe they are, and they’ve got a faulty view of work. But do you see the impact we would make? Number one, with excellence.
Second, our work is an extension of our worship and obedience. Ephesians 6:5 through 8.
And so, you don’t do it just with excellence, but your work becomes an opportunity, where you ascribe – the word worship – you ascribe worth to God, and you obey God, because He says, “I want you to do your work in this way, with this kind of attitude” – and, by the way, toward unreasonable bosses.
He’s not writing to Christian slaves saying, “Here’s how you treat your Christian brothers, and high-five one another on the job, while all the other slaves are getting beat to a pulp.” He says to them, “This is how you respond to ungodly taskmasters, and this is how you win their heart.” It’s an act of worship, and it’s an act of obedience.
Third, our work is our primary ministry opportunity to display God’s work in us, reveal His character, model His compassion and concern for our fellow workers, and share His offer of salvation.
I came across a very interesting quote, “Many of Christianity’s spokespersons have washed out morally, or are in the later years of their ministry.
“For several years now, you’ve heard us say that the average layman – or woman – will be the one to carry the burden. As media evangelists have taken their dive, more attention has been drawn to you, the average Christian. You live and work next to people who are not likely to darken the door of a church. It may never occur to these people that Christianity has any real answers to their dilemmas, unless they see something of the abundant life expressed in you, daily, at work.”
There is a movement of marketplace ministry. Many experts say if, in fact, we’re going to turn the corner and any good, in terms of revival, or massive things happening, it will likely happen through the movement of marketplace ministry, where Christians say, “My work is my primary ministry.”
See it’s not just, “I work and get this over with, so I have some time to love people, love my family, and have a little money to give to missions or give to the Church.” It’s not even, “My work is a platform. I do it, it’s a necessary evil, but it’s a platform so I can tell people I’m a Christian, and model something, and then I can get some money to free some time to give to the Church, and to help missionaries, and…” It is, “My work is my ministry. I’m a full-time Christian.”
I have a message that I did at the church in California, and I deputized everyone. I had them all stand up, and I said, “You know what? I’m a full-time Christian, right? I get paid to do this. Now, what would happen if all of you” – there were thousands of people at the time –“if all of you keep bringing your friends, and you funneled them all to me, and they lined up, and it was my job to do all the spiritual needs? How well do you think we’re going to do in reaching this town of about two hundred and fifty thousand people?” And they said, “Oh, not very good.”
I said, “Well, what if everything I know – if, every week, we come together, and instead of trying to entertain you, or simply inspire you, what if I instructed and trained you so you could learn to share Christ like I do, you could answer questions like I do, you could do hospital visits like I do, you could do basic counseling like I do? Man, I’ll equip you, and thousands of people going out into two hundred and fifty thousand people, then what do you think will happen?” They were like, “Wow, man, we could change this whole community!”
I said, “Okay, great, everybody stand up. I ‘are’ the spiritual sheriff, and I now make you deputized. You are full-time Christian workers in the body of Christ.” And I was kind of messing with them.
Then, I turned to 1 Peter, and I said, “I didn’t do that. It was already true. You are a royal priesthood. God called you, as much as He called me, to fulfill the Great Commission. And you have a vineyard, or a place, and I have a vineyard, or a place. And your neighborhood and your jobsite is your primary vineyard to fulfill the work of God, not your church building.”
The church building is like a football huddle. You call the plays, you have a little training camp. You get people equipped.
But I’ll tell you what, you don’t gain any yardage, by and large, in the church meeting. It’s when the Church is scattered that we make our impact. The church meeting is a time to strengthen the saints to teach, and train, and develop, and encourage, so that there’s a full-time Christian worker deputized where you work, and the place where you live.
You will show people more of Christ by how you live your life, how you treat fellow workers, your attitude, and the quality of your work, than anything you’ll ever do in your entire life. Because sixty to eighty percent of your waking hours are – where? Right there.
Four, work is, by nature, intrinsically good, and has dignity. Christ worked as a carpenter. I could go off on this.
If you would have met Jesus, or if Jesus would come back, He’d pull up in a pickup truck, dirty hands, after framing a house, you and I have been conditioned to have a certain perspective of that Man. And you would have a lower estimation of the Son of God, in a beat-up pickup truck, with dirty hands, and a couple of splinters, and an apron that has His hammer, and His equipment, because we have been so seduced by which kinds of work are more valuable, and which kinds are not. And there’s a totally unbiblical view.
And some of our kids are great with their hands, and some of us have made them go to college, and get into jobs they hate, because, somehow, our social standing, and what people would think of us, don’t mesh with their either manual, artistic, or musical abilities.
Fifth, God’s work is the primary means of financially providing for His children, His Church, and those in need. You know, you have the 1 Timothy passage – we provide for our household. It’s obvious that we’re to give financially, from what we earn, to those who spiritually meet our needs. And then, in Ephesians 4:28, it talks about, hey, if you’ve been stealing – your life change – don’t steal any longer. But now, work with your hands so that you can give to those that are in need.
So, work is a part – it’s not evil. It’s how God is going to provide for you, your family, the Church, and other people in need.
Sixth, work is not a means to significance, but to service and fulfilling our calling. You think God’s hammered that one enough? I think so.
Jot in your notes, if you will, however, John 6:27, John 6:27, and put a circle around that, and make a note to yourself, “Meditate on this,” especially for fellow workaholics. Workaholism is, basically, demanding that my work demonstrate that I have this performance orientation, that I’m a “somebody,” and I’m significant, and when I work, people love me. When I work, I’m worthwhile. And so, I work and work and work and work. I’ve been there, done that, and actually still struggle with it.
John 6:27 says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but work for the food that doesn’t perish, doing My work unto the Lord.” Luke 9:25 is a parallel passage that says, “So what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
And you can work and work and work and work, and be super, super successful, and come up dead empty. Work was never intended to be a means to significance, but to service, and to fulfill the calling that God’s given us.
Finally, work has lasting and eternal significance, as we work in the millennium – Isaiah 65 – and receive eternal rewards for how we work. And this is just one of those that I just want to say, this is one of those wild passages, and I just wanted to go like – Isaiah 65 – this is that thousand-year millennium.
I think, sometimes, we think that the afterlife – of course, that is before the Lord returns, and sets up a new heaven and new earth, but I think we get this idea that eternity, or heaven, is going to be like sipping iced tea, and floating on clouds, and maybe being able to walk through walls.
You’re going to work! You’re going to work. It’s going to be a new heaven, and a new earth, and you’re going to work, and you’re going to do stuff. But the curse is gone! And you’re going to be creative, and you’re going to build, and you’re going to subdue, and it’s going to be exciting.
In fact, in that thousand-year reign – just read, this afternoon, Isaiah 65:21 to 25. You shall build. You’ll plant. You won’t labor in vain. That sounds like work, doesn’t it? Well, if it’s so bad, if it’s so evil, and it’s going to be a thousand-year, perfect environment, why would God have work? Because the work happens before the Fall, work changes through the Fall, and then after things are the way they need to be, work continues, because God is a worker. He’s called us to co-work with Him. The Fall has changed work, but work, now, when everything is offered unto the Lord, as an act of worship and service, is your primary ministry.
And here’s my plea: Buy back the hundred thousand hours – or if it’s a little bit late for a hundred thousand, buy back the sixty to eighty percent of your waking hours, and refuse to make it, I’m just going to get this done, even in the mundane things, and refuse to make it, I’m a “somebody” because of what I accomplish, and make work a stewardship, and discover what you’re called to do, and offer it to God, with excellence, and say, “Lord, this is my worship of You. I was made to do this for Your honor and glory and my joy.” This is not like a sentence to jail. This was like a key to fulfillment.