Tuesday, July 1, 2008

is work meaningless? (1) finding meaning in work

Is work meaningless?

It recently became a real possibility (mercifully a brief one!) that I might have to work 2-3 days a week for financial reasons. Not my first preference! I want to stay home with our children while they are young, and I've always assumed I'll head back into gospel work once they grow up a bit.

I'm still figuring out my theology of work, but it seems to me that only gospel work directly produces things of eternal value. The plumbing you fix, the garbage bin you empty, or the hair you style, will crumble into dust. The court case you win, the building you engineer, or the body you heal, will fade and be forgotten. The house you clean, the nappy you change, or the meal you cook, are chores destined to be repeated endlessly.

So my first thought (and I'm sorry for this, you workers!) was: "What a waste of time! When I could be caring for our children, or teaching people about the Bible, why would I want to spend 2 or 3 days a week doing something with no eternal significance?"

It brought home to me how important it is, for those of us without the great privilege of being in gospel work, to know why we get out of bed in the morning, put on our suits, skirts or overalls, and go to work. How do I get up and go to work every morning? How do I work with joy under God?

During the next couple of days I want to explore this issue further, first with some very different views on work from the Bible, and second with my reflections on "7 things that make work meaningful."


UltraViolet said...

When I was at uni and involved with a Christian org, there were regular discussions, talks and studies on the value/point of work.

What would happen if you didn't clean your house? What example would that be to your kids and how would that serve them and your husband?

Although working sucks (according to me), they (at uni) always said that you can serve God by being an example/contact point for those in your workplace (unless you work alone like me!), or with the money you make.

But it's understandable that you want to be with your kids...that's another think altogether.

Or maybe your question was hypothetical...

Jean said...

You'll have to wait and find out ... ;)

Linda said...


A book that I found helpful on the role of work in the life of a Christian and how Christians are to live out their faith at work was the highly practical book 'Thank God it's Monday' by Mark Greene. The second chapter gives a short theology of work that sets the scene for the rest of the book.


Jean said...

Thanks, Linda! What kind of theology of work does it offer?

Susie said...

Jean you have got me going!
I glanced at your post late last night and have woken up reminded that God desires that we do all that we do to His glory. He also longs for us to use the gifts He has given us to serve Him and the church. He is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him - and this satisfaction might come from using the talents and skills He has given us....to plumb or bake or defend. Interested to see where you are going with this series of ideas.....and how you have developed in your thinking.

Jean said...

Hi, Susie, sorry I didn't respond earlier, read the other posts and tell me what you think.