Work is good, it is for His glory, and we actually don't work to earn a living. That is what I wrote about last week.
Today I wanted to share three more principals on work that will help us see work and vocation the way God sees it and help us get into a rhythm of work.
Principal #4 - God determines promotion (how hard you work does not determine the amount of money you make)
When I worked at Northwestern Mutual, I was taught that if I made a certain number of calls and set a certain number of meetings and then did a certain number of presentations, then I will actually close a certain amount of deals.
While it is great to have structures that help us work more effectively and help us to honor God with our resources and time, what man-made programs often leave out is the Sovereignty of God. Most Christians act like God has little or no part in our finances.
What I have learned both in life and through scriptures, is that how hard you work does not ultimately determine your promotion and success.
I know this because during my time in India I saw men working on a building across from where we stayed. They worked 7 days a week. They slept in the building they were building. And it was hard labor, without many of the tools American construction workers have. My first year in the real world I more than doubled what they made and I didn't work near as hard.
Through the lens of the providence of God we see that some are born into wealth and others into poverty. Some are born in countries with endless opportunities and others have almost zero chance of climbing out of the cycle of poverty. None of us actually chose to be born in to our families of origin. And we must be careful not to be so arrogant to look around and think, "Look what I did!"
Ultimately God is most concerned with cultivating our hearts. Romans 8 tells us that He has predestined us to be conformed into the image of His Son. Oftentimes that means that God will use trials and at work and seemingly fruitful seasons to expose our motives and lies that we have believed about ourselves or about God. He wants to get after our hearts. This could mean that God is using our vocation to conform our identity, humility, contentment, and values to more reflect Jesus.
Principal #5 - God is to determine our priorities
I see this as the biggest area of growth for me and our body. Due to the pace of life in Dallas, having so many relationships that we are trying to maintain, families, and demanding jobs, no wonder that it is an ongoing struggle to set and maintain the right priorities. If the world determines our rhythm, we are slowly sedated and led away from living in a rhythm of rest, peace, and fruitfulness in every area of life. Our pace of life can be exhausting. 50, 60, 70 hours a week of work is enough to keep our families out of rhythm and living "on mission" becomes out of the question.
Daniel (Daniel 1:1-18) was in a similar situation. The King of Babylon had him and his friends taken captive. They were to be trained by the best that the world had to offer. However, Daniel resolved that he would not let the Babylonians determine his priorities. Even in exile he resolved to follow His God.
It is here we must allow God to speak into our lives to set our schedules, our priorities and our standard of living.
You and I no longer operate under the rules of this world! We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Him. We were ransomed and purchased by the blood of His Son. How freeing! How wonderful to know that I belong to the best King. We have a heavenly calling and our job is to let Jesus be the Lord of our schedules, finances, priorities and our lives.
Principal #6 - Your identity is as a son or daughter, not in your gifts or work
Identity. Everyone wants an identity to be proud of. Again the temptation for us is to look to other things to satisfy our desire. When we look to our vocation or our gifts for our identities, they will ultimately leave us disappointed. Our gifts and jobs will make terrible gods.
The Bible constantly calls us up, to set our hope fully on the Lord (Psalm 62:5, 1 Peter 1:13, Colosians 1:4). It is something I have to constantly fight for as I listen to the voices in my head:
"If only the church will grow to a certain size..."
"If I could just get published and become famous..."
"Why hasn't John Piper invited me yet to speak on work at the Desiring God National conference?"
Unfortunately I am not joking. I really have to wrestle with those thoughts.
And if I look to my gifts I can get just as frustrated because there will always be another better preacher, teacher, speaker and leader. If I look to my gifts I will ultimately compare myself to them and then have to fight against jealousy and shame.
However, the Lord has an answer! "Be satisfied in me!"
You and I are significant because of who we are as His kids. We are created in His image and He has declared us to be of supreme worth and value. How do you know? Because He sent His only Son to die in our place. If you don't feel valuable, then you aren't seeing the value in the blood of Jesus. If you believe in, rely on, and have faith in Him, then you have lost the right to believe less of yourself. We have value because God saw us as valuable enough to save through the cost of His Son.
Ask Him to show you who He is today. Then ask Him to show you who you are. Not as an employee of your company or as someone who does something. But for who you are. God is a Father and His desire is for all of His children to walk each day confident in His love, goodness, and provision. Not based on our performance, but based on Who He is and who we are... Sons and daughters.