Humans were designed to express part of their creative energy through work. That’s part of what makes us ‘in the image of God’.
Before the creation of man, there was no one to work the ground. As a result, Adam was made and was asked to “work it and take care of it” (NIV Gen. 2:15).
Thus, the desire to work, the desire to create, and the desire to accomplish is from God.
Yet, it only takes 11 chapters in Genesis before we begin to discover that not all work had healthy motivations. At the tower of Babel they worked to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4).
The Importance of Why
The ‘why’ is what motivates us. It is what gives us the energy to get out of bed. It is what keeps us working long hours. It is what drives us to do our best. It is what pushes us to excel at our work.
If you get the why wrong, you get everything wrong. Just ask those industrious folks who sought to build a tower to the heavens to make a name for themselves.
‘Why’ matters to God as much as the results of what we accomplish.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a preacher or a pool salesman. God opens a door for your work to glorify him if you have spiritually healthy motives for work.
Spiritually Healthy Motivations to Work
- To Provide for the Needs of Family (1 Timothy 5:16) – Whenever possible, we ought not to be a burden to the church. If an individual has a way to eat by working, he should pursue work as a means to provide for his family. Relying on or depending on the church (when an option for work exists) is not a legitimate way to provide the needs of your family.
- To Provide for the Needs of Those Outside our Family (Ephesians. 4:28) – Our Christian responsibility does not end at the point we keep ourselves from burdening the church. We are called to seek work as a method whereby we can share in the needs of others.
- To Serve Others (Matthew 22:36-39) – We need to learn to see our work as works of service. If you fix cars, you are serving anyone who brings a car into your mechanic shop. If you work in a retail store, you are serving anyone who comes shopping for clothes. As we meet the needs of others, we serve them.
- To Please God (Colossians 3:23) – When we work, we don’t simply do it to put a smile on the face of our boss. We do it to please God. As the giver of all our strengths, gifts, and abilities he is honored when we perform to the best of our ability.
- For Satisfaction and Dignity (Genesis 1:1) – Our God works. Work is part of God’s natural expression of his creative essence. There is an emptiness without work. We work because it’s good to accomplish a project. It’s good to feel fulfilled by the completion of a job well done. That is how we’ve been created.
- To Fulfill a Calling (Eph. 4:11-12) – Each of us must ask: what have I been uniquely created to do? By analyzing our education, experience, giftedness, and more, we can begin to recognize a unique way God has empowered us to do work in this world.
- To Contribute to Something Beyond Ourselves (1 Peter 1:17) – Taken to an extreme, this could be the very sin at the tower of Babel. But, for Christians who recognize the fleeting nature of this work, we seek to work for something more than self-fulfillment and self-indulgence. We seek not to leave a legacy for ourselves, but to live in the likeness of Christ and influence those around us for better.
As we work, may we always seek to love God above all things. May we seek to put the kingdom first. May we always fear God and keep his commands.
May we find the right drive and motivation, for God’s glory, through our work.
I’m guessing I’ve missed some spiritually healthy motivations for work. Can you add anything to the list?