The ‘theology’ of work

Justin Kollmeyer's picture

Maybe your job is like Henry’s.

Maybe your job is like Sally’s.

Henry hates his job. He absolutely drags to work every day. The whole idea of work seems rather ridiculous to him. All he can think about is how small a job he has in such a huge company.

The money and benefits seem pretty good, but he never gets ahead. There is so much taken out for taxes. And he hates taxes. By the time he pays his bills and pays toward his credit card debt, he’s behind every month.

Every day he’s in a bad mood, and he’s quick to snap at anyone who gets in his way. He’s miserable so he wants every else to be miserable. He’s jealous of others with much better jobs and much more money and a much better life. He’s lonely. He’s irritated and frustrated. He’s mad because life’s not fair.

Sally loves her job. She’s not necessarily a morning person, but she manages to get up early enough to get to work on time, usually a little early to make sure there’s coffee for everybody. She greets others with a smile and inquires about her colleagues’ lives, families, and interests. She checks to see if any of her co-workers will need anything special in order to make the day.

She cares about her job and job performance. She takes pride in her work. She’s nowhere near the top in job level or seniority or pay or visibility with her large company, but she knows the importance of what she does and thinks about her vital contribution to the overall productivity and performance of her workforce.

She earns a reasonable salary with adequate benefits. It is still a challenge to pay all the bills for herself and her family, for she is the primary bread-winner, but she does it. Over the years she has paid off her credit card debt and has put back some savings. She is able to be a tither at her church.

It’s easy to see that Henry has a crummy job.

It’s easy to see that Sally has a great job.

But there’s one thing I haven’t told you yet: Henry and Sally have the same job. They work side by side every day, earning the same pay.

So, whats the difference? You could surmise that he’s just a cranky and bitter old man and she’s a vivacious young woman. That his personality is negative and hers is positive. But that’s not it. And they’re both the bread-winner for their full families.

I know these two people. And here’s the difference: their “Theology of Work.” That almost seems like a strange combination of words, doesn’t it? But it’s an important and appropriate combination of words for sure. It says there is a connection between God and our work, our job, our labor, our vocation, our profession, our means of earning a living.

Henry’s “Theology of Work” is this: he does not have a “Theology of Work.” Henry has never made the connection between God and his job. Henry thinks that theology and God are for Sunday mornings and funerals and preachers. He has only ever considered his job as an evil necessity to grind out a living and pay his bills. He’s only ever thought of his job as a way to get money, get money for himself. And with that “Theology of Work,” the lack thereof, poor Henry will always have a crummy job, no matter what, where, or with whom.

Sally, on the other hand, has grown to understand that all of life is “Theological.” She has come to know that all of life falls under the direction and influence of, and the connection to God.
Sally knows that to understand work she has to understand God; to understand who God is as Creator, Savior, and Living Spirit. She knows that to understand work she must see herself as creation, loved and redeemed, and one in whom God’s Spirit lives, and through whom God’s Spirit is working in her world.

Sally doesn’t go to work every day just to earn a paycheck and live out her hurts and pains in life. She goes to work to represent God as one of His creations. She goes to work to represent God as one whom He has loved as His own. She goes to work to let God’s Spirit live and act through her toward everyone with whom she works and with whom she comes in contact.

Sally appreciates life as a gift from God and a journey with Him. She is clear on her purpose in everything she does, and that is to glorify God. And with that “Theology of Work,” Sally will always have a great job, no matter what, where, or with whom.

Next time you and your family are in Chick-fil-A, go over to the wall by the counter and look at the framed plaque hanging there. It’s in every restaurant they have. It’s their Mission Statement ... the Mission Statement of a multi-million dollar highly successful hard-driving business.

Here’s what it says: “That we might glorify God (emphasis!) by being a faithful steward in all that is entrusted to our care, and that we might have a positive influence (emphasis!) on all the people that we might come in contact with.”
Do you have a “Theology of Work?” I hope so. But if you don’t, adopting Sally’s and Chick-fil-A’s would sure make your life and the lives of all those around you a million times better. You’ll have a great job, for sure!

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