Do you think about your work?
Not at work or in your work, but about your work. Do you think about how – or if – it participates in the bigger picture of God’s story?
Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t know how my work could ever be part of God’s story … that’s for pastors and the Peace Corps. I just sell mouthwash.”
Your work is part of God’s story, and if we think about it rightly, we can be more effective and purposeful in our work.
So how do we think rightly about our work and be most effective in God’s story?
In the Workmatters Institute we are learning that our individual work and the overall culture to which our work contributes is both patterned after God’s plan for work and complicated by sin. In other words, every piece of work and culture will likely be a mixture of aspects that are aligned with biblical truth and aspects that are not.
To think rightly, you have to think critically about your work so that how you work and what you create are able to best align with biblical truth and work against what is not.
A Tale of Two Car Ads:
Advertising provides a great window into how this works. Take a look at two of the most talked about commercials of the last two years:
Cadillac “Poolside:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJSI48gkFc
Chrysler “So God Made a Farmer:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE
Neither ad is perfectly aligned with or perfectly against biblical truth. And one article argues that they are both trying to appeal to the same thing. But each ad has some pretty loud prevailing themes. Here is what I hear and see in the ads:
|It’s what you do. The purpose of working hard is material accumulation.||It’s who you are. The purpose of working hard is that it is a way of life.|
|Emphasis is on what you get.||Emphasis is on what you give.|
|Appeals to desire for earthly success.||Appeals to desire for generational significance.|
|Assumes that an easy formula of hard work always leads to material success.||Acknowledges that sometimes hard work is fruitless.|
Which ad is more aligned with themes of biblical truth? Which ad is appealing to the best in us?
Ads have a big stage from which to speak, but they are really just an exaggerated form of what we all do every day. As workers we are all creators of culture – we are hard-wired for it, made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28). Whether you are working a routine process in a machine shop, developing a sales presentation, or running a social marketing campaign, you are creating advertisements with your work that are reinforcing or working against biblical truth in some fashion.
Our mindsets, actions and often the work itself can be used to highlight truth, blur the lines with a half-truth, or even be flat-out untruth.
As faith at work practitioners we have to steward our work and our creativity well. We have to think about what we do and how it aligns with truth.
So, practically what do we do?
- First, do your work with excellence. This has to be our fundamental mindset toward any assignment.
- Next, combine your motivation for work with the desire to serve others. In other words, always keep the end user in mind.
- Finally, think about all aspects of your work. Affirm what is in line with biblical truth and work to minimize what is not.
Think about your work. Your “advertisement” might not be played in front of a Super Bowl audience, but it is influencing more than you think. What is the prevailing theme of your ad?