— by Scott Rodin
Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors (Deuteronomy 30:9).
We were created for work, and when we do it for God’s glory, our work is an act of worship. As this and so many other texts affirm, God loves to bless the work of our hands. To better understand this, we need to have a thoroughly biblical definition of “work.” Here is a two-part definition: work is a co-laboring with God in the greater work that He is doing, and work is worship.
The understanding of work as co-laboring flows directly out of the creation account in Genesis. When God places the first couple in the garden and commands them to take care of it, He is calling them into a life of labor that is integrally related to God’s own work. Paul reminds us that we can plant and water, but only God brings the increase (1 Corinthians 3). As any gardener or farmer knows, growing a crop is a combination of the work we do (tilling, planting, watering, weeding, etc.) and the work God does in providing the rain to fall, the sun to shine, and the crops to grow. In our role as leaders—as well as in every other vocation in our organization regardless of how grand or menial the work may be—we are all co-laborers with God. God is at work in our workplace, and we must see our presence and toil there as a way of cooperating in the greater work that He is doing in our midst. Scripture tells us of God’s omnipresence and sovereignty. We must believe that God is active everywhere, even in the hardest of work conditions. God is at work in the hearts and lives of our coworkers, and He calls us and places us in positions of leadership to labor with Him in the greater work of His kingdom.
Our work is also a significant form of worship. If we are to do everything to the glory of God, and if all time belongs to Him, then every minute we spend at work is an opportunity to honor and glorify Him. God created us for work, and when we do it with excellence and joy, our work becomes an offering, an act of worship back to Him.
As you prepare to lead your organization forward, do you see your job as an opportunity to co-labor with God, to enter into the bigger picture of what He is doing in your place of work? And will you carry out your work as a steward leader and in that way transform it into a daylong act of worship? Just as we were called to root out the love of money that we may serve only God and be stewards of His creation, so we are called to be stewards of our work in this twofold way. Are you working nine to five just to make a living, or is your work a reflection of your love for your people and an act of worship to God?
Let me close with this illustration. Imagine for a moment that you had the opportunity to spend one day in the workshop with Jesus. What would that day be like? It would likely contain a lot of the normal activities of a busy carpenter shop. There would be bent nails, slivers, difficult customers, and crooked lumber. But you can imagine there would also be incredible moments working side by side with the Master, learning from Him, watching Him, and growing in your own skills by being in His presence. I can imagine you would go home believing it was one of the greatest workdays of your life. The truth is that we are invited to work with Jesus every day. How do you see that being lived out in your own work setting? Do you believe that He is present with you and busily at work in the lives of people around you? Do you believe He is guiding your work as a leader, inviting you to co-labor with Him in His bigger work? Pray for God to give you the eyes to see the work He is doing, and over the next twenty-four hours, write down every time you see it. See if you’re not surprised at how present God is in your work setting and how many opportunities there are to co-labor with Him in that greater story.
Excerpted from Steward Leader Meditations, R. Scott Rodin, Kingdom Life Publishing 2016. Order the full 50 meditations at www.kingdomlifepublishing.com
[Special thanks to The Steward’s Journey for the cover art]