Big Idea: We work because work is valuable. We aren't valuable because we work!

Our occupation can be a massive source of our identity.  The truth is we work because work is valuable; we’re not valuable because we work.  If you’re having an identity crisis with work, you might look like one of the following types of people:

1)  The overachiever- one who gets a sense of deep personal fulfillment from their work.  This person defines themselves and others by what they do not who they are.  They get irritated when someone or something interferes with what they’re trying to accomplish.  They are a workaholic and find it difficult to rest, take a day off, or go on vacations.  

2)  The underachiever- one who has put their identity in their occupation but has not succeeded to the level they would like to reach.  This person hasn’t found their niche or what fulfills them, so they are constantly looking for the next thing.  They also might feel like their job doesn’t matter, so they live for the weekend or vacation.

3)  The spiritual-achiever- one who has found their identity in Christian-performance; we might call them a “professional Christian.”  This person has worked hard to do all the right things.  They give money to the church, but then they wonder how many other people are giving or wish everyone would give as much as they do.  Or perhaps they’re giving money to missionaries overseas but never attempt to talk to the people next door about Jesus.  

In order to confront these identity-confusions in our lives, we need clarity.  Consider these two truths. The first is that we are image bearers of God.  Since God Himself is a worker, we work because He does.  As an image-bearer of God, we image Him in three ways.  

The first way we image God is by imagining, tending, and creating.  His first command to man (Gen. 2:15) was to keep the Garden of Eden (this means work was not a result of the fall).  We do not go to work to make money so we can do something “more spiritual” later.  Our work is sacred obedience to God, and we need to take joy in tending the garden He has given us. There is no work that is sacred or more important than another; the surgeon who performs life-saving surgery is just as important as the janitor who cleaned the room beforehand.  Both roles fulfill the Genesis 2:15 mandate. 

Secondly, we image God by others-focused work.  We do our jobs so God can use us to help care for others and His planet.  Everyone has a job that contributes to human flourishing, and we are channels He uses to work for the benefit of other people.  This helps make our jobs less self-focused.

Last, we image God with an honest work ethic.  In Colossians 3:22-25, Paul writes to slaves, who had to obey and comply in everything.  He tells them a few things: do their job because they want to not because they have to, don’t just obey when they’re being supervised, do their job heartily and with sincere effort, and do their job regardless of unfair compensation.  The only way we will be model employees is when we realize we are working for God and not men. 

The second point of clarity is that we are Christ’s servants.  In Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy introduce themselves as “servants of Jesus Christ.”  If there was anyone who could have bragged about his accomplishments, it was Paul; however, he recognized his gifts and talents were not to be used for his own glorification- he was a willing slave.  One of the best ways we point people toward Jesus is when we work hard to magnify His name and remember it is not about our title.  Check out Psalm 84:10 which reiterates this beautiful truth. 

In summation, we are not valuable or significant because of our jobs.  God gives us our talent, and it’s a fool’s errand to pretend we have somehow made ourselves significant.  Instead, let's seek to fulfill our Gen 2:15 mandate.  Next time you're tempted to feel the Sunday-night blues, remember to sling your gardening tool over your shoulder and whistle a tune as you go off to tend the garden the Father has given you. 

Tweetable Quotes:

We work to obey God not to fulfill ourselves or feel significant. #identityrescripted

We work because work is valuable; we’re not valuable because we work. #identityrescripted

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