I grew up dreading work. My father was a loving dad, but like many parents, he was set on cultivating a monster work ethic in his son. This included bailing hay in scorching August heat. (Can you sympathize with a scrawny middle school kid, drenched in sweat with scratched up arms?) Dad also tossed me underneath vehicles and had me turning wrenches when I was very young. (Apparently, he had no appreciation for child labor laws.) I got bloody knuckles, along with crumbling rust and dripping grease on my face. When Dad discovered I was not mechanically inclined, I was handed a broom and assigned cleanup duty in his shop. Yes, I grew up dreading such manual labor. And I learned at an early age to dread going back to work, especially after a few days off.
Perhaps you have similar sentiments following this long holiday weekend. We readily think certain jobs are more glorious, while we deem other lines of labor to be of little importance. We categorize—there’s the “ordinary” and the “extraordinary.” There’s the “mundane” and then the “marvelous!”
If you’re in a season where you feel like your current job falls in the ordinary or mundane category, you probably need some fresh motivation to go back tomorrow. Consider these back-to-work motivators, straight from God’s grand story in the Bible (I’ve included pertinent biblical reference addresses so you can explore on your own.)
You’re actually being VERY God-like when you work!
When we first encounter God, He’s working; he made humans in his image to rule and to reign (yes, it’s royal lingo)—to lead strong in labor. Genesis 2:15 shares that God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to work it. It’s a rich word meaning “intentional service with an attitude of worship.”
As you head back to work, let this thought motivate you: “My daily work in whatever garden God has placed me is a seriously good way to live out God’s image, to serve others, and to worship my Creator!”
Our daily labors—our efforts, feelings, and overall outcomes—took a big tumble. (See Genesis 3:17-19) Our struggles arrived when work went topsy-turvy and fell along with all of the original Creation. The Curse entered the scene because of sin. Now, we encounter thorns, thistles, and sweat. Just knowing this certainly doesn’t make everything feel better, but it does lend us greater understanding regarding WHY work often feels so miserable. As you head back to work, let this motivate you:
God started working to redeem all of Creation—and this includes our work efforts and outcomes.
He extended grace to humans, and he chose Abraham. He called him to go and be a blessing! God said that all humans, every nation would be blessed through Abraham. (See Genesis 12:1-3) Let this motivate you as you return to work: God is working to reverse the curse, to bring us blessing, and that includes blessing for our daily labors!
God did not abandon his plans for human leadership in daily work. (See Psalm 8)
The psalmist emphasizes that we still “rule and reign” over God’s creative work. Whatever you do—whether scrubbing toilets, leading a sales team, flipping burgers, or mentoring kids during retirement—every task still matters to God!
Jesus was and is an amazing worker!
We often forget, long before He was the miracle-working rabbi, Jesus was originally a carpenter, probably taking over Joseph’s business. When confronted by critics, he said, “My Father is always working, and I myself am working.” (See Mark 6:2-3 and John 5:16-18.)
Don’t miss this motivator for tomorrow’s labor:
Your daily work can be infused with greater meaning—real significance—as you focus on pleasing Christ.
Recently, people shared with me on Facebook & LinkedIn their favorite thing and their most frustrating thing about their daily labor. A guy working for the water company told me his favorite work feature is “working outside,” and his most frustrating is “working outside.” Another person said her favorite is “working with the public,” and her most frustrating is “working with the public.”
Randy Kilgore encourages us: “Who we work with and who is impacted by our work are not merely economic considerations; these issues are part of our spiritual service. Work is not merely a means to an end or a place to put in time or raise funds. Our workplace can be holy ground . . . faithful service to the Father.”
Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23-24 supply rich motivation:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
One final motivator: The future is bright with God’s plans for human work.
In God’s grand story, Eden will be restored as the culmination of Christ’s work, and work will be fully redeemed. Houses will be built; crops will be planted; children will be raised. We will indeed still work, and it will be work like we have never worked before! (See Revelation 22:2-5 and Isaiah 65:17, 19, 21-23)
Let’s head back to work with “all our hearts,” remembering that our daily work marvelously matters to God!
Randy Kilgore. Made to Matter: Devotions for Working Christians. P. 92.