Posted October 25, 2018 by Center for Faith and Innovation
Tags: Vocation and Calling
In and Through the Job You Have: Joining God in the Work He's Already Doing
Will Messenger, Executive Editor of the Theology of Work Project, a Biblical commentary that traces themes of work from Genesis to Revelation, considers the question, "What job/career/occupation does God want me to have?" Dr. Messenger is scheduled to speak at Wheaton’s undergraduate chapel on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, on discerning calling in the student’s life.
Vocation is the most highly trafficked topic on the Theology of Work Project website, ahead of felt needs like work-life balance, conflict on the job, dealing with a difficult boss, and recovering from failure. Students, not surprisingly, are even more focused on vocation, by which they specifically mean, “What job/career/occupation does God want me to have?” It’s a fair question, and an important one if you’re in the high-pressure process of looking for a job.
But it makes the crucial mistake of thinking that God’s calling is defined by your occupation, as if some occupations are more important to God and others less. The Bible seldom takes this perspective. For example, even the greatest missionary in the Bible (Paul) was, and remained, a leatherworker his entire life.
A more helpful question might be “What is the work of God that I’m being called to participate in?” This question assumes that God is already at work (John 5:17) and that his call is to join what he’s doing. That should take some of the pressure off our search for work. Whatever job you end up in, you’ll find God already at work there, inviting you to join him.
And what is the work of God? Redemption. Jesus is the redeemer of the world. Redemption is setting right whatever has gone wrong. Restoring all things in the world to the way God planned and created them. We can’t accomplish that by ourselves, of course, but we aren’t called to. We’re called simply to join God in his work of restoring the world. That doesn’t come so much from finding the best job we can, as from doing the best job we can. God can take it from there (Matthew 25:23).
So for example, you can join God’s redeeming work by sweeping a floor, helping a customer find the right product, making a gate change announcement, editing a document, forecasting cash flow more accurately, helping a new co-worker come up to speed on the project, changing a diaper, investing in the capability of people who work under your leadership, engaging in conflict fairly and honestly, treating women and men with equal respect and dignity (and pay), learning to speak someone else’s language/code/jargon, teaching someone, serving a meal, and a million other things that make the world more like God intends. No matter what your job or occupation, there are plenty of opportunities for that.
I hope everyone finds a job that uses their gifts and skills, fulfills their desires, pays a good wage, treats them with dignity and respect, brings them into contact with wonderful co-workers, and gives them lots of power and influence for good, but not everyone will. Whether the job you show up to every day looks like that or not, know that God still invites you to join Him in the work of redemption in and through the job you have right now.