Not too long ago I started a job at a non-profit that provides civil legal services to low-income litigants. This job is the complete opposite of my previous job, where I worked long hours doing the same thing over and over for what seemed like no benefit to anyone. In my new job, my conversations with my significantly low-income clients make me deeply grateful to be employed at all, but I also feel very lucky to be working in a job that makes me feel like I am helping people and doing good in my community–my work makes me feel like I have purpose.
Genesis 2:15 tells us that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to work the ground. I often think of work in conjunction with the Fall and man’s curse, the painful toil required to work food from the ground, but work is something that preexisted the Fall. But actually, participating in active stewardship of what is in our lives is part of God’s blessing to us and a source of purpose. I can’t confirm whether Adam found naming the animals particularly thrilling or fulfilling, but I would venture a guess that he freely felt the blessing of his work because he whole-heartedly set at the task God put before him.
As Christian writer and speaker Jon Acuff observed on a recent podcast, not everyone gets to have a super important or personally fulfilling job. Not every task is inherently meaningful, and we are, after all, living post-Fall. But it is not the content of our labors that is the source of our blessing. When I would struggle with my spelling tests as a child, loathe to review the words I always got wrong (pre-Auto Correct days), my mom would remind me of the promise repeated in Colossians 2:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working unto the Lord, not for human masters, as you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”
My dad recently attended a sort-of graduation party hosted by people of faith, and he was deeply touched by the fervor and conviction with which the programming at the party served to thank God for His faithfulness in providing training, education, and opportunities. He noted to me that the prevailing theme of the gathering was reaffirming and exhorting that the purpose of such gifts was to be equipped to be of service to God and His mission. I wondered after hearing my dad’s reflections how consciously I commit myself to seeing every facet of my work as part of His kingdom’s advancement. The whole reason we are blessed is so that we can be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)
Whatever work each day sets before you, and whatever that work may look like, our challenge is to find the blessing in it, that we may experience our Father’s love for us, and that we may pass that love on to a world that needs to feel it, too.