Do What You Love / Love What You Do

carpentry-workshopConscience and reason, guided by scripture, can help us avoid evil and choose good. But what if the choice is between an abundance of good options? Often, we have so many opportunities to do good that we can’t possibly pursue them all. How do we choose? Which work seems meaningful? Which projects will leave us energized instead of exhausted at the end of a long day? Is it selfish to choose work that inspires us? Is it okay to enjoy our work? Isn’t “work” supposed to mean doing our fair share of the drudgery that nobody wants to do?

Work is seldom easy, but it should be satisfying. When our labors are well-aligned with God’s purpose for us, we’ll  have a sense of peace about doing our job — even if it’s challenging and difficult.

Jesus, during his earthly ministry, found satisfaction in his work. Once, when his disciples brought him food, he told them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

The Book of Ecclesiastes says,  “So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work…”  (Ecclesiastes 3:22 )

The well-known Parable of the Talents speaks to the question of how we should choose our work. (See Matthew 25: 14-30 and Luke 19: 12-27.) In the parable, a rich man entrusts large sums of money to three servants, instructing them to put it to good use while he’s away. Two of the servants get busy buying, selling and investing. The third servant, afraid of making a mistake, buries his share in the ground for safe keeping. Upon returning, the rich man is pleased with the two who used the money productively. He’s angry with the one who buried it.

Many sermons have condensed the story’s moral to, “Use the talents God gave you.” That’s an important message, but there’s more. Notice that the rich man didn’t tell the servants how to use the money. When he returned, he didn’t scold them for overlooking one opportunity while pursuing another. He wasn’t angry at the one servant who earned a smaller return than the other. His only unhappiness was with the man who, out of fear, refused to do anything at all.

God doesn’t assign us our tasks as if he were a factory manager and we the assembly-line workers. He provides a wealth of opportunities and lets us choose how to use them. Like any good father, He’s pleased to see his children using their wits and creativity for positive ends.

God gives different abilities to different people. Things usually work best when individuals recognize and use their strengths. For example, someone with the gift of gab might make a great radio host, but a lousy lab technician. An tender-hearted person may excel at customer service, but fall apart when promoted to a position of management. It’s true in the world of work, and it’s true in our private lives: we do best at jobs that play to our strengths.

Choosing where to spend our energy is one of those decisions where emotions can play a valuable role. We tend to want to do things we’re good at. We also don’t mind doing the hard stuff, as long as our efforts contribute towards a worthy goal. What drags us down and discourages us, is to work at something that makes poor use of our skills, when the end result is something that we don’t value. Our emotions can alert us to a mismatch between our jobs and our values.

Sometimes a person will feel a strong calling to a particular purpose. So it was with Gladys Aylward (1902 – 1970), who remained convinced God wanted her to go to China, even when no one took her seriously. Read about her amazing life at: https://urbana.org/go-and-do/missionary-biographies/small-woman-big-heart-great-faith

 

Comments

  1. What a wonderful message, Connie. You helped me think of this passage in a new way. Thank you for your excellent post.

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