The Comfort Of Work
By Patrick Badstibner
When work has made my heart heavy I like to read the following passages Ecclesiastes 3:13, Ephesians 2 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 and ask God to remind me that because of grace and His passionate love that work no longer needs to be a way in which it saves me by making me feel valuable or worthy or significant. I also no longer have to avoid it either for fear it won’t bring me any of those things and will just make me feel worse.
Grace Changes The Purpose Of Work.
Instead now work can not only be a source of deep joy, but a source that brings comfort during those times when the real in the word reality seems more than I can handle.Because of grace I already am worthy and valuable. I already am the apple of God’s eye, hard to get much more significant than that. Here’s a hint because of Christ I need not worry about whether he will keep me there (John 10:28).
I Love Control, After All Who Doesn’t!
You know one of the things that work has always been for me is a way to control. Anyone who sits in a leadership seat and tells you that they do not deal with control issues is well let me go ahead and say it, full of baloney. (There’s another issue those at the top deal with and it’s called self-glory, but that’s a topic for another time.) Let’s face it we all love control, but those in leadership really love it and in fact the higher one goes up the ladder, the bigger the issue is.
Yet, until I let go I really cannot know grace and as a result that will always keep me from enjoying the joy that God intended for work.
Not just Leaders
Let’s face we all deal with control issues, whether it’s the housewife, the hourly laborer, the student, the college professor, no matter the occupation. no matter what age or what one does in life our need to control the outcome is always an issue. However, it is especially bad with our work.
The reason that control is so important to us is that it keeps us from feeling inadequate, so we think. We place our adequacy in being able to control the outcome. As long as we feel we are in control, though we never really are we believe that it will save us from feeling the inadequacy of the “Law of Capability.”
Law of Capability
One writer defined this law as;
“the law that judges us wanting if we are not capable, if we cannot handle it all, if we are not competent to balance our diverse commitments without a slip.”
Which includes our ability to do those tasks we take on, including but not limited, to our work.
The ways this reveals itself in our lives are many and as different as our very personalities. It manifests itself in our worry over mistakes, the need to be noticed, the need for praise, the need to make all the right moves and decisions, the fear of decisions, procrastination, laziness, workaholism, over aggression and even lack of aggression.
The Weariness Of Work!
The failure to meet the demands that God’s law and man’s faux simile of God’s law places on us, leaves me and you feeling, very tired. Especially if we are basing our view of ourselves or how we feel about ourselves on such things. Truth is we will never be able to work hard enough to do this task anyway.
As a result we will constantly be working to save ourselves from feeling less than adequate and that is indeed tiring. This is the place all of us find ourselves in when we make the sole purpose of work anything other than what God intended.
As long as we stay there, work will never be a place of rest and joy. That is why work, whether it be what we are getting paid for or not getting paid for will often seem dreadful, boring, taxing, weary and something we try to escape or avoid. This always brings a feeling of needing to change things, surroundings, environments, conditions, tasks or circumstances in order that we find a way to not feel that way and gain control again.
Work does not need to be about my need to control, my need to be somebody, my need to feel value, my need to please, appease, impress, measure up, my need to know significance or my need to be approved. Work no longer needs to be a tool that makes me feel OK with myself, in comparison to how I see others performing. For, that is also a defeating purpose and labor, which will leave all that live in such a way feeling like they are in a pressure cooker.
It is here that we see what Christ meant when He said take my burden, for it is light. Why we see him calling all those who are weary (Matthew 11:28-29). For, indeed it is truly tiring trying to always control things, work to satisfy or meet others expectations.
Yet, there is deep freedom found in removing the lid of the pressure cooker called performance. As, the steam rises allowing the pressure to release and we in turn replace the faulty thinking that once filled our minds with the truth of the gospel. A truth that reminds us we already are adequate, we already are valuable and we no longer have to work to prove so, for indeed “It Is Finished.”
Now because I can let go, because I no longer need to act like everything depends on me. Because the gospel tells me that those times when everything seems totally out of control, IT IS.
The reason it is, is because God uses the pain, confusion, heartache, anger, frustration, disappointment and all those other dark feelings to remind me that nothing can separate me from His love. To rock me from those comfortable feelings of feeling that everything is in control. To break my fingers from feeling that my aspirations, dreams, goals, targets, to do lists are what define me and to instead allow myself to be defined by HIM!
Finding Inspiration And Joy Both For And In The Task At Hand.
Yet, Christians are not called to be social rejects and totally out of control, so there must be some form of control in it’s designated place. A place that brings excellence of work, pride of accomplishment and glory to God. In that place there is joy to be found in work.
So, joy does not come from avoiding the task or doing the task to make us feel better, but when we respond from a point of being loved. When we do the task because we are deeply loved to God’s glory and in service to others we find joy.
It is this joy that Solomon speaks of (Ecclesiastes 3:13), for this joy enables us to move past the boredom, the pain, the grief and ultimately the pity party that living in this crazy world never ceases to bring.
Far better is the joy found in worshiping and glorifying God in all we do, than the pity in circumstances.
Working out of love for others and God always brings the joy that is needed to move past those moments in life when the pain seems like its going to take the very life out of us.
Work As A Ministry
When work becomes a point of joy for us, it then truly becomes an opportunity to turn our workplaces into places of ministry. A place where we treat others not by how they are performing but by the same grace that we are given daily. A place to bring the gospel of grace, as we minister to others.
It also becomes a place where we work not just as a way to meet our needs, but to be a source to be able to meet the needs of others. Because, the gospel relieves us from the laborious task of feeling like meeting our needs is completely up to us, we can indeed show others a new way to live.
Here We Find God’s Intended Purpose For Work!