Editor’s Note: This is part 6 of a 9 part series on pastoral leadership that I am writing for my seminary class, Leading Christian Communities, with Dr. Kyle J. A. Small.
“How was your day at work?”
“It was work.”
Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve had this conversation before. Perhaps you’ve had it every day for the past twenty years. Maybe (or always) your child responds this way when asked about school. As adults, aren’t we supposed to enjoy what we do day after day? While that sounds nice, do you find it to be true? Do you love your job?
Here’s the deal. Regardless of your position, regardless of whether you love or hate your job, some days are going to be worse than others.
But, working is a part of life. Humankind was created to work. The very first commandment God gives us is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). We are given the task to till and keep the earth (Genesis 2:15). The first man, Adam, also had a specific role: he named all the animals on the land and in the air (Genesis 2:19-20). Work was assigned before the fall. Work is not a punishment for our sin–it is innately good. It is not a curse. We were designed for intentional activity to produce a sense of fruitfulness in our lives. Do you believe that? In your heart do you view work as a good thing, or as a hindrance?
It is easy to view work as simply the means to provide security and life’s necessities. This is certainly true, but that does not mean that it has to be seen as a chore. The question is, is our work producing fruit? That’s the distinction. Is our work simply work, or is it fruitful?
I get it. Some tasks are monotonous. Some jobs seem pointless. There are good days and bad days.
No matter how bad it gets, we always have a choice. We have the ability to choose joy. Stick with me. Some jobs seem completely joyless, and yet, we tend to work our way into a self defeating spirit in which we come to work expecting it to be bad. Every day we have a choice. Choose joy. Making this decision day-in day-out does not mean work will always be joy-filled. That just doesn’t happen. However, by making a choice each and every day to open yourself to joy, to expect joy, will foster a posture most open to receiving it when it comes. A travel mug is meant to be filled, but it will be filled mighty slowly if the lid is on as the coffee is poured. It still might fill up through the sipping hole, but not nearly as easily as if the lid were off entirely.
We have a reason to be happy. We have joy knowing that God created us to work, but more importantly, he created us for relationship. God has work for us to do here on earth. But looking at the story in the Garden, before Adam and Eve even had a full day of work, they rested. Their first full day of existence was set aside for rest. God created humankind on the 6th day, and on the 7th day, he rested. God has created us to be in a covenantal relationship. How awesome is that? Despite any of our sin, God continues to love us and offers us life with him even though we have done nothing to deserve it.
I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty joyous.
If you find yourself dreading work day after day after day, I invite you to seek joy starting today. Seek out those little glimmers of hope each day. Perhaps an attitude adjustment is in order. Maybe it is finally time to have that long overdue conversation with your boss or co-worker. I invite you to ponder what simple, memorable, and reproducible things you can introduce to your work day to make it a better experience for you. Seeking joy is a choice. Remember the joy we have in knowing who our God is and what he has done for us.
Today, seek joy.
- Leadership (part 1 of 9): Rest
- Leadership (part 2 of 9): Sabbath
- Leadership )part 3 of 9): Blind Spots
- Leadership (part 4 of 9): The Call
- Leadership (part 5 of 9): Soul Food