The Flawed Theology of Meaningful Work

We all naturally want to do work that is meaningful. But what if your work isn’t? Some people have amazing jobs where it seems that the thing that they do for money is also the thing that makes their soul sing. That is awesome and enviable…and sadly not the reality for 99% of the world. If you’re like me, your job leaves you more stressed than satisfied at the end of the week, and you find yourself wishing it could be different. You have an overwhelming sense of dread that you will never be able to find what you are “meant” to do, and face the possibility of dying having only worked for something you don’t care about.

However it would be a mistake to equate your soul’s purpose with personal fulfillment you get from your job. Many people don’t take the time to reflect on what they functionally believe versus what they say they believe. As long as I am living I am liable to take God’s words and twist them into something incorrect. I discovered that I created my own god when I began to operate under the assumption that all my experiences and talents were only created for one job. I was getting depressed because I thought that if miss that one calling I am much wasted as a person. After graduating from college with my B.A. there were no jobs to be found in Santa Barbara. I was forced to take the only thing I could: a receptionist position at a company that fixed copy machines. This was deeply disturbing to me. “Is this why I just went $80,000 into debt?” I thought, “My time is so much more valuable than this.”

Pausing right here, I see a few things in my past self. First, the enormous sense of entitlement and pride of which I need to repent, but also the fact that I’m focusing on that mirage of “the perfect job” rather than seeing God’s purpose for me right then and there. My manager was a devout Christian and ran his office like one. He was always inviting me to his church and praising the Lord right there in the office. (Which I’m sure was more than a little uncomfortable to all who worked there.) I had some really deep conversations about God with my cubicle mate, and of course there was the fact that I had found a job at all in that climate. God was providing for me in droves but I would go home pouting because I thought there was only one dream job available to me and I had failed in procuring it.

When your functional belief is not the same as your actual beliefs, you end up with flawed theology on your hands. Flawed theology is dangerous because we base our thoughts motivations and actions on our personal theologies. If your theology is incorrect you are putting words in God’s mouth. And that has never ended well, just ask Satan!

Watch “One calling Multiple expressions” by Annie Downs. Aside from being one of my very favorite authors, she talks about how our vocations are expressed in so many unique ways throughout our lives. She says “You are not too old to find your calling, and you are not too young that you have not already experienced multiple expressions of it”. I have watched this particular talk probably more than 5 times since I discovered it a few years ago, and trust me friends, when I say it is full of gems. I can’t recommend that you take a few minutes to watch it yourself. And so we find that a shift in perspective is needed.

What do you think? Take some time to journal as the Spirit leads and hear how God is directing your thoughts on this topic

Why witness?

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15

I always read this verse as “always be prepared to give a lecture on Christian apologetics”. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand that “the reason for the hope that you have” is not the same as “the reason that you should believe”.

In college I volunteered for a pro-life organization. Part of the job included wielding signs on campus’s main thoroughfare and starting conversations with strangers on this heavy topic. Needless to say it was mostly enduring insults and dodging half-drunk sodas, but I did have a couple good conversations. One in particular sticks out because of my own ignorance of this verse.

My friend Michelle wanted to know why I felt so strongly about Pro-life issues. However, the stress of publicly declaring my stance on abortion had got me so flustered that it took me a few minutes to put together a coherent sentence. And she, not being a Christian, but a seeker (and a good friend) listened to me patiently.

I was kicking myself as she walked away. I hadn’t presented the answer as well as I should have. I had approached her, not as a friend telling another friend of the peace of God, but as an opponent, spitting out counter-arguments like some ball machine in a tennis court. I just kept swinging even though I had lost the point of the interaction.

Many Christians like myself fail at witnessing because we simply don’t know how to go about it. That’s why we need to be prepared for whatever situation may come; the potential impact of sharing the Gospel is just too wonderful to ignore.

But just look at what happens when a person believes in Jesus (from cru.org):

  • They become children of God.
  • Their bodies become temples of God.
  • All of their sins are forgiven.
  • They begin to experience the peace and love of God.
  • They receive God’s direction and purpose for their lives.
  • They experience the power of God to change their lives.
  • They have assurance of eternal life.
  • Witnessing will stimulate your spiritual growth, lead you to pray and study God’s Word, and encourage you to depend on Christ. You will experience the tremendous privilege and honor of representing Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20).

To say this is an important part of living out our faith would be a grave understatement. Missionaries aren’t just wacky families who decide to uproot their lives and head to Rwanda (although they are much needed!). They can be ordinary, local folks like you and me. After all, there may not be anyone else as well-suited for the people around you than you are.

It frightens me to think that close friends and members of my own family may choose to reject Christ in the end. I know it’s hard to believe that Jesus will come back and dole out justice, but don’t let that fool you into procrastination. It is not God’s will that even one is lost.

Here is an excellent article in getting started with sharing the reasons for your hope with others.

Why We Witness by Bill Bright

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God, thank you for blessing us with the opportunity to be partners with you in gathering up your scattered sheep. Help us to learn the right ways to witness our faith to the world. Steer us in the direction of people who will have ears to hear. Speak through our mouths and tear down the arguments of the prideful. We honor you and give you all the glory forever. Amen.