Jessica Smartt, in a chapter on “Work” in her book Memory-Making Mom, discusses the magical effect of chores on discontentment and recommends that parents take what they view as an acceptable workload for each age and then double the chores for each child. That made me smile — and reminded me of our cushy lives and #FirstWorldProblems.
When I was single, and feeding on books like The Measure of Success, Lean In, and The Gospel at Work, the theology of work had a significant impact on my career and my daily life. Why do we work? What does it matter, to us or to God? How do we work?
Lately I have not just been out of the office but out in the fields daily — bringing order out of chaos and taking dominion over pastures. Let me tell you, this is hard work. It’s even harder for a city girl with a desk career for 20 years. But exhausting as it is, it is good work.
She…works with willing hands. (Proverbs 31:13)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… (Colossians 3:23)
We are created to work. Hard work is not the plague. We need to be wise in conserving energy and knowing our limits, but work is what we were designed to do. God set the pattern in Genesis, and humankind has fulfilled that calling since then. It is a gift of life.
We are created to work with purpose. Sometimes we work out of desperation — hungry mouths demand to be fed. Sometimes we work for the praise of others. Sometimes we work for the glory of God. Knowing our true purpose makes a world of difference in the work we do and how we do it.
We are also reasonable beings and can think through tasks that will be productive and beneficial. We can work smarter with amazing brains and intelligence. We can work with our bodies, minds, and hearts.
This is where priorities matter. When we know why we work ultimately and immediately, we work so much better than when we trudge blindly — sometimes in vain directions that waste our effort — through life.
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits
will have plenty of poverty. (Proverbs 28:19)
There is work at hand again today. What will we do and why?