Ed Stetzer on Why Christians Should See Value in Their Work

As a pastor, I’ve had countless instances of the following situation: someone comes up to me at some point in his or her Christian life, usually during a particularly vibrant season. It’s clear that the person loves Jesus and wants to honor him through his or her work, saying, “Ed, I’m praying about going into full-time vocational ministry. I’m trying to discern if God wants me to become a pastor/minister/missionary.”

It seems to be completely normal in church. People who think this way also typically think that if they really love the Lord, they need to serve him full-time, which is true—we do need to serve God full-time.

But constantly serving God does not always mean going into ministry. Right now, I want you to think of a person in your life who is a consistent, faithful follower of Christ. Although you may be thinking of your pastor or a leader in your church, I’d bet that many of the people who come to mind have a job outside of ministry.

One issue today that often leads us to separate glorifying God from our work is that many people see work as a way to make money. The bigger purpose behind a career—glorifying God—is easily lost in the busyness of paying bills and providing for our families. Work is almost transactional now: we do our assigned tasks, we get paid, we repeat the cycle. It has become much more difficult to keep God at the forefront of work.

Another issue is that people today generally think of work as being hard. They typically see it this way because of Genesis, when humans are assigned by God to “toil the land” after the Fall (Gen. 3:17). I think it’s important for us to recognize that work is actually part of life before the Fall. In Genesis 2, God puts Adam in Eden for the sole purpose of caring for the land. Work is made more difficult because of the Fall, yes, but it is not a result of the Fall.

Since the beginning, part of our role as humans has been to work. It’s a reason for our being. And because it’s such a big part of who we are, it’s usually a topic that comes up in churches from time to time. Conversations about work usually lead to conversations about vocation, a word that comes from the word call. I think it’s useful to apply it to whatever job you perform. For example, I have a sense of calling to ministry and writing, while a teacher feels a sense of calling towards educating others.

Martin Luther and countless other theologians (and just regular people of God) have been studying vocation for centuries. Luther especially spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be human and answer the call God places on your life. Specifically, he studied and wrote about how we can be our best for the glory of God in whatever role we are called towards.

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Source: Christianity Today