The Value of Work
Most of us are probably working this summer, whether it’s a part-time or full-time job (or several), an internship, or helping out friends and family.
Right now, I’m transitioning into working a full-time, salaried, actual job. I was so incredibly lucky to be given a job and to start right after graduation, but it’s definitely a transition. Even though I’ve worked full-time in past summers.
Parts of the transition are great: I love being at the same place every day, instead of switching between two part-time jobs. I love being on my own public relations client accounts, being a part of the strategy and planning – even knowing that I won’t be leaving in two weeks but can actually see these things through.
But other parts of the transition are bumpier. Like the fact that, no matter how much I may like the work or the people, I’m still giving up my entire day to something else. I’m investing my best brain power and all my energy right now into working, doing what other people ask me to do instead of carrying out my own personal to-do list.
And when you’re sitting there crafting the perfect whatever-it-is, sometimes you wonder if it really matters all that much. Why are you spending so much time on this, again?
It’s a bit of a change from college, where I was in charge of my schedule and could make it as flexible or crowded as I wanted.
But here’s what I’m learning: work is inherently good. And it doesn’t matter what it is (well, as long as it’s legal and moral), whether you get paid, or even how much you work. It could be doing dishes at home, filing endlessly in an office, waiting tables or creating the next great art masterpiece. Doesn’t matter.
God says that it is good, and important. It’s so good that it was part of the original and perfect creation. God works, and in that work he expresses himself, creates and redeems.
Our work is a chance to partner with and imitate God in his work of creation and redemption. We too bring order out of chaos. We design, strategize, serve, create excellent experiences for others. We contribute to something bigger than ourselves. We work with others for the good of the whole organization.
It doesn’t matter how boring or menial the task is: God says that it is good and worth being done, and that we glorify him in our work.
And in addition, if you work a job outside the home, work is a huge opportunity to live right behind enemy lines. Most of your coworkers will likely not be Christians. But you will be in close quarters with them, doing the same things. If we work well, they will respect us for our excellence.
They will notice if we respond to something differently – even Monday mornings. They will notice your smile, even if they don’t say anything.
In my own short experience, and my friends and family’s much longer experience, relationships with coworkers tend to move much more slowly than in any other sphere. There is little time to get to know them personally, and sometimes they don’t want to engage on that level for a while. And their lives are often going swimmingly.
But eventually, the brokenness of this world will impact them. Something will happen. And when it does, you want to be there as the person they turn to.
What a golden opportunity.
So whether you get up and go to work tomorrow, or serve washing dishes and changing diapers – remind yourself that what you do has value. It is important, and it is good.
What are your thoughts on work? I’m still just learning this myself, and I know I have a long way to go. I’m planning on reading Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor, which is on life and work – want to join me?