September 1, 2014

Labor Daze: 4 truths not covered in job orientation

by Clint Archer

In honor of Labor Day here are four truths your HR department probably didn’t cover in your orientation package…

1. Work is a gift

God created the man with a purpose: to enjoy fellowship with God and offer worship to God through workplow

Genesis 1:26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. [Yes, God loves to work, just look at creation]… 28 … “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [Dominion is more than bragging rights, it means managerial prominence; if the gopher is messing up your putting green, you have the prerogative to translocate said gopher. Why? Because you are human and you are in charge.]

Gen 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

And this was before the Fall and the Curse.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, …3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.

An enjoyable, challenging and profitable career is one of God’s greatest blessings.

Yes, your job can be troublesome, but without it you’d lack the benefits.

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Or, yes the absence of smelly, high-maintenance issues to deal with means you have no manure to clean up, but it also means no income stream.

2. Work has been cursed

That said, work bites.

All work, from scrubbing toilets to stock trading, is cursed and all workers from scuba instructors to overpaid actors experience bad days at work.

workerGenesis 3:17-19 …cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you [or thorny customers who ruin your day and prickly employees who pilfer your profit and obstructive government regulations that tangle you in red tape]; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” [Which is why no one on their deathbed says “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” In fact, the office is partly (mostly) what caused the deathbed.]

This cursedness is quite unavoidable and very necessary to keep us from finding fulfillment in this life, and thus missing out on salvation and an opportunity to work in a sinless, curse-free environment forever.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, …What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.  …  6:7 All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.

If we loved our jobs too much, we wouldn’t see the need for a better world and a better Master than the Michael Scott’s of this world.


3. Work is not always for money

God allots work for us to do, and at times the world doesn’t see it as a job, but it is. Just because you don’t get paid wages for your labor does not mean you have to behave like the chronically unemployed video-game playing, late-sleeping, trust-fund mooch. For example, being a student can be a fulltime profession for a season, albeit one that drains our bank accounts instead of filling them. It should be seen as an investment in future earnings.

Another classic case-in-point of an unpaid career is housewife. Godly housewives (now there’s a TV show no producer is going to bankroll) are a model of unceasing labor.

Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Though her remuneration is less tangible than a paper paycheck, her industrious contribution to the family and society and God’s kingdom should be valued beyond the spot price of gold.


4. Work is about worship 

cubiclesColossians 3:22-24 Bondservants, [interns/secretaries/cubicle dwellers] obey in everything those who are your earthly masters [shift-leaders/project managers/ board of directors], not by way of eye-service [e.g. minimizing your Facebook window as your boss walks in the door], as people-pleasers [brown-noses], but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men [wages/profit-sharing/commission], knowing that from the Lord [not your union and not your retirement fund] you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


So, if you are feeling dazed by the swirl of the under-paid-over-worked treadmill, take this labor day to enjoy your cursed job as an offering of worship to your real Boss, knowing that one day you will serve Him in a city where every day at work feels like a public holiday.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Uvadjah

    Good article, thank you. You just forgot to go further. The word “work” we use today is based on the latin word “laborare”, which is a curse. It means Slavory. We are not meant to live according to that curse, we live under it since the Fall, but this shouldn’t be our goal. Sadly, this became a goal especially in european and american modern church theology. What we are meant to do, is SERVE. The word for work you described is used in the bible with the hebrew word “laavod” which is today translated as “to work”. But the real meaning is “to serve”, as the dreived Name Obadjah shows, meaning “the servant of God” and NOT “the worker..”. We shall SERVE our god, it is it in a Job whether we suffer under this curse to labor, or in whatwever we do with our time. Hospitality, singing worship, fellowship, all we do should be to serve him, the goal to make some money should only be a secondary necessary thing, not the meaning of our existence. If we do that, God promises to be faithful and bless us, giving us what we need. I can testify that this is true, without any regular income or “carrer” since 15 years now. God bless you all, be encouraged to serve him first!

    • I like that waitrons are now called servers. I wonder if it affects their tips no that people think they are just serving for free?

      • Paul

        is it cynicism or bitterness speaking here?

        • Post traumatic stress disorder from nightmarish days as a waiter!

    • Jeff Schlottmann

      So you haven’t had a job in 15 years? I hope there are no wife or kids involved. Money isn’t number one to me, but its very important in that without it, I will fail to provide for my family. I’m a truck driver and make enough to support my family without mywife having to work. The Lord has blessed me in that area. As much as I may want it to, working for next to nothing will not provide food, rent, clothes, etc. Work is not slavery, although it may feel that way some days.

      I think you may have missed the point of this article.

      • Uvadjah

        Wife, kids, also jobs. I know most people don’t get it with their reason. These steps need faith. I don’t say it proudly, it took hard lessons, step by step. I just can say it works. And gods will and his “system” first – our reasonable arguments, backuped with the few small passages we find about “responsability to our wifes”, cannot contradict gods Truth. He is good and faithful to his word. If we want to change the world we must make the change, not only nice words!

  • Uvadjah

    another thought:
    in general, we turned Gods principles upside down in our modern church world. We call our sunday meeting (first day of the week) the “service”.
    I see in the Bible, that we are called, according to his image, to serve 24h/day, 6 days a week. Then comes a day where we are not supposed to serve (or to work), called the Shabbath. The first day of the week, we then start to meet and remember his sacrifice and serve him by worshipping and having fellowship. The real “work” week only starts with that, and shouldn’t be called the isolated and only “service” time in the week!

    • Yup. And tennis players also usurp the term for their attempt to dominate their opponents. Rascals.

      • Jurek

        very poor comment in total contradiction to your good article

        • Jurek is not familiar with a little literary device known as irony.

      • Uvadjah

        you are right. maybe it’s ok. the question is, if words have power and an effect on our understanding and lifes. See what the bible says about it.
        If so, isn’t it good to think about it, instead of turning it into ridiculous? If it is humor, it isn’t helpful at all in this case..

  • Barbara

    Hi, did you mean HR department, rather than PR department?

    • I think if you look carefully, it does say HR. (now) 😉 thanks

  • Patricia Grace

    Thank you for this article. Much appreciated and one my weary heart needed to hear (er, read). Thank the Lord for work, in all it’s sweaty, underpaid glory. He left the worship of angels to work as a carpenter, working with the same material upon which he would one day bleed for me. I can sweat cleaning houses for His glory and should be more grateful. [Found this in a link from Tim Challies’ blog/email newsletter]. Bless you.

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  • pearlbaker

    All I ever need to know about work I learned from Paul in Colossians 3:23…(Come to think of it, a great deal of what I needed to know about living life to please God I learned from Paul (well, God via Paul) :-))

    Matthew Henry says this: “Servants are to do their duty, and obey their masters’ commands, in all things consistent with duty to God their heavenly Master. They must be both just and diligent; without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise. Those who fear God, will be just and faithful when from under their master’s eye, because they know they are under the eye of God. And do all with diligence, not idly and slothfully; cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation. And for servants’ encouragement, let them know, that in serving their masters according to the command of Christ, they serve Christ, and he will give them a glorious reward at last.”

    • Gotta love Mr Henry.

  • tovlogos

    Amen Clint.

    Especially — “not by way of eye-service [e.g. minimizing your Facebook window as your boss walks in the door], as people-pleasers [brown-noses], but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”

    Stephen (Acts 7) was part of the great commission, and content as a waiter. With his relationship with the Spirit, I couldn’t imagine him being discontent with anything. He had the best of both worlds — a job; and a rapturous relationship with God almighty. If he were living today, chances are good he my have lost his job due to his beliefs ( we hear that quite often today). Reckoning his relationship with the Holy Spirit, I doubt he would have cared; God would have lead him in the proper direction, as He would anyone who had genuine faith.

  • Love this blog! Great reminder 🙂

    • Thanks, now get back to work!

  • Clint Scogin

    Appreciate your article on work. I was researching Colossians 3:22-24 in relation to my duties as a Christian toward work and my employee, employer relationship. It is interesting that we as Christians should take the long-term approach to our work and careers. What I mean by the long-term approach is that we are to look for our inheritance and our reward from serving Christ in our jobs and other responsibilites instead of seeking and receiving our reward from people. To me this is one of those “easier said than done” principles of the gospel that we need to incorporate in our lives. Still, I am holding to the belief that Christ’s pay, reward, or inheritance is better than anyone elses.

    • Clint, it is easier said than done, but so is “take up your cross and follow me.” Hang in there with your faith in Christ’s promise of reward. I deal quite extensively with this topic in my book The Preacher’s Payday.

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