I am a Christian writer. In the articles that I write and post regularly on my blog, I mostly focus on teaching Christians how to integrate their faith at work, and how God is present in every aspect of it.
It occurred to me recently that this message of encouragement and hope that is founded on eternal biblical truths that have helped believers for thousands of years might also be helpful for those who have not yet come to fully accepting the truths of Christianity. Perhaps, if I could share a bit of what I have learned about God’s presence in every aspect of my work, it might help someone who may be seeking for something more to find the God who loves them in the midst of the daily grind at work.
There are three simple, yet relevant messages that I want to address here that I invite you to consider:
- The way the world normally looks at work misses the mark by leaving God out of the picture
- The God who created the universe created you to be a coworker with Him in this world
- Experiencing God’s presence at work provides a sense of purpose the world cannot provide
Most people fail to recognize that work is a gift of God
I have found that there are two prevalent views on work from when God is taken out of the picture.
One view states that work has no lasting value in and of itself. The purpose of work to just to feed the family and pay the bills. It is a pretty depressing view. No wonder most people live for the weekend and are so thankful for Fridays. (Unfortunately, some Christians also have this view.)
The second view exalts work. The purpose of work is merely to further yourself, find success, and be the master of your own fate; the captain of your ship. Success in life means success in work. This is the attitude says you gotta do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter how many marriages you have to burn through or no matter how many friends you have to cheat. When you try to find ultimate meaning and purpose in life through your work alone, it will always leave you disappointed.
What I have discovered from studying the Bible is that work is a valuable gift from God Himself.
God created humans to be coworkers with Him to sustain His creation
The first thing I see in the creation story is that God is a worker. Since God is a worker, then all workers have value. All legitimate work (defined as jobs that make life better for others) is of value.
I also see that God created humans as His coworkers to sustain His creation. The world was perfect, yet it was incomplete. There were gardens that needed tending. Eventually, cities needed to be built, children needed to be taught, inventions needed to be developed, and books needed to be written.
And so, work has meaning, but not absolute meaning. Success at work will not completely satisfy.
God’s presence at work provides meaning and purpose you will not find elsewhere
What I have personally experienced over many years of living out these truths is that God is present with His children all the time. I can truly sense God’s presence in the everyday moments, not just in church or on a mountaintop watching the sun go down. I have come to understand that there is a very real connection between God’s presence and human work. God works with us, in us, and through us in order to meet the needs of people everywhere; people He loved enough to send His Son to die for.
How do I experience God’s presence at work? As I head from the parking lot to my building, I pray that God will lead me and give me wisdom. Sometimes I pray audibly when I am alone in my office or I shoot up a quick silent prayer in a meeting when my temper starts to rise. I confess my sins as soon as I notice them. I recall a favorite Bible verse when needed. I pray that God will change the way I see challenges at work and I praise Him when He enables me to accomplish a difficult task.
A closing challenge
I realize that I did not present any kind of clear message about how you can enter in to a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. My intent was not to lay out convincing proofs of God’s existence, discuss how the claims of Jesus uniquely stand out above all other religions, or take any of the usual approaches that evangelists or preachers use to move people to make a decision.
My intent, as an ordinary worker myself, was simply to engage other ordinary men and women who spend the majority of their waking hours at work just trying to make it through the day for 40 to 50 years to consider that there might be something more to life that would give them a little bit of hope.
Jesus made this amazing statement that is found in the New Testament book of John, chapter 8, verses 31-32. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I share this quote often, because it sheds light on the fact that faith in Christ transforms our minds, which significantly improves the quality of our lives.
Isn’t that what we all want; to be set free from the things that hold us back, drag us down, and enslave us? Knowing these truths about God’s purposes for work make the burdens in my life a lot lighter.
I know that I have a greater purpose in my work, to be a coworker with God to sustain His creation. In the midst of the daily grind and all the struggles that I face due to my own sins and the sins of my bosses, coworkers, and customers, there are new abilities to change, overcome, and grow through them. I also know full well that when I experience God’s presence at work, there is an unexplainable joy, a peace that passes all understanding, and full confidence that what I do all day really matters.
I trust that you will give these concepts some thoughtful consideration. If you are interested, I invite you to reach out to a Christian you know to discuss these eternal truths on a more personal level. God has graciously scattered believers in every field of work to be able to share what they know.
About the author:
Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of four, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. More than 50 articles posted on this blog have been published 110 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.