Work

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
— -Proverbs 6:9-11

Created to Create

There is this interesting thing about life that I’ve discovered since I began working in ministry full-time after college. See, I’ve always been involved in manual labor of some sort. My dad was a groundskeeper my entire childhood—he worked on the athletic fields at the high school that I went to, and then later the college that I attended (tuition waivers are awesome). Therefore, I had no choice but to know how to take care of a yard. My childhood home had a large front and back yard, and from the time I was old enough it was my responsibility. Then, in college, I worked on the grounds crew all 4 years. Even when I graduated and began a full-time youth pastor job, we lived in a parsonage with a fairly big yard that I took care of. There’s something about manual labor that is satisfying. It rarely involves creating something, but it’s usually maintaining what has been created, and in that way, it feels worthwhile. It feels like you’re joining God in keeping creation in order in some small way.

So, the thing I’ve discovered is that, for me, full-time ministry can become something that lacks the hands-on type of work that I’ve grown up doing. It’s a different type of work that, until you really learn how to do it and what your place is in it, is a bit lacking in its ability to fulfill that part of a person that needs to do something with his hands.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s what I’m called to and I am in no way unfulfilled, but there have been times in the 7+ years that I’ve done this full-time that I have been. I have served in a position where I spent hours of the day in an office studying, and then went home after lunch and did nothing, because I didn’t do the hard work of figuring out how to do ministry when it seemed like there was nothing to really be done.

The fact is, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are a minister. God has called you to do ministry within your every-day life—at your job, in your family, in your neighborhood. That being said, work is ministry. We are not supposed to separate the two.

Plain and simple, the way I see it, work is creating. It is using our God given talents to partner with him in the creative process. I see this passage in Proverbs as warning of what happens when we lose our desire to work. It’s not that rest isn’t important and necessary, but it’s when the creative desire leaves us entirely that we’re in danger of losing everything, because we were created to create. That creating looks different for every person based on gifting, but we’re all capable of creating something.

So, do you find yourself in a lull? Are you unfilled in whatever it is that you’re currently called to, to the point where you feel like you’re asleep? Find a way to be creative in your job, your family, your neighborhood. Find a way to partner with God in the work that he’s doing, because he is at work creating something from nothing there, and he has given you gifts to join him in that.