Your Work Matters

In the beginning, there was work, and it was good.

From the formation of creation, God worked designing the heavens and the earth and all of mankind. God designed man and woman to co-labor in communion with Him, as a holy offering to Him. Long before The Great Fall, there was great work, and it was an act of worship.

The Fall, however, distorted our understanding of work, and it severed our work-worship relationship with God.

Ever since mankind was banished from working the Garden of Eden, Christians have grappled with work. What is its purpose? Does it honor God? How do I find joy in it? But God’s design for work has not waivered; His plan is the same today as it was in the beginning: Our work is a form of worship when done unto Him.

God intends for our work not only to be worshipful but also transformational.

We long to be affirmed that our temporal work here on earth has eternal significance; we yearn to hear “well done good and faithful servant” when we make it to our final destination. Through our work, everything and everyone we touch is changed in some way or another.

We leave enduring inscriptions on the world just by nature of being in it. And as believers, our aim is for as many of these inscriptions as possible to point to Christ.

That holy, deep-seeded desire to work with purpose and for excellence is a virtue written on our hearts, and it has been from the beginning. All work done unto Him is holy. Unfortunately, one of the most common hindrances to engaging in kingdom minded work is we tend to view our work as either sacred or secular.

In a Vocational Leadership course I teach at my university, the majority of my students initially struggle to reconcile the integration of their faith and their work because they see most professions as either sacred and God honoring or secular and public square enhancing.

They believe a professional call to be a pastor or overseas missionary, for example, is sacred, but to be a doctor or lawyer is decidedly more secular. Less surprising but equally concerning, students express doubt for how their professional lives contribute to common good, kingdom work.

How, they wonder, do their summer jobs as baristas, babysitters, or baggers contribute to kingdom purposes?

I understand their concerns, and at times, I experience my own insecurities about whether my vocational call to teach in college classrooms is as significant as another’s call to preach in stadiums.

God, however, does not delineate between sacred and secular work because His plan is for all work to be a manifestation of His sacred love for us. If God is the author of all things, then all work is good, or it is in need of redemption and reconciliation back to goodness.

Either way, it all belongs to Him—all of it!

Early 20th century theologian Abraham Kuyper wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

In other words, whether you are a missionary or a mother, a preacher or a painter, work done unto Him is His indeed.

Scripture also affirms the work-worship relationship. For example, Colossians 3:23 encourages us to do all things with excellence as if working for the Lord; Philippians 2:14 admonishes us to find joy in our labor; and Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 reminds us that work done apart from Him is meaningless.

The Fall disfigured the beauty of our work-worship relationship with the Lord, and it tainted the joy the Lord intends for us to derive from our vocations. But through our vocations— our God-given strengths, talents, and callings, He extends an invitation to co-labor with Him, unto Him.

Our work is worship. Our work is transformative. Work done well and with joy is arguably our greatest testament to the world of the Lord’s goodness to us and our love for Him.

Dr. Christina Crenshaw

Christina Crenshaw is a Lecturer and Program Director at Baylor University. You can follow Christina on Instagram.

Join the discussion

Grace February 19, 2017 at 9:43am

So glad I stumbled upon this. This is so true. Was reading scriptures recently and realized that our work is a way of worship unto God. A lot of people struggle with this and I did too but He's been so understanding, teaching me and opening my eyes to see that work done unto Him is not just preaching or being a missionary. Thank you for the reminder.

Patrease Douglas February 14, 2017 at 3:35pm

Thanks for writing this article. This is a subject I have been thinking about so much during this time. I even prayed and started to ask God so many questions about purpose, vocation, calling, gifts, and etc. it begin to DRIVE me insane until one day God begin to speak to me that I was already in living on purpose. He showed me that as a chirstian my main purpose was to love him, love his people, and make disciples. He also showed me the essence of "living life abundantly" and how all of what I'm currently doing right now is connected to purpose. I fight always being productive at my job, or feeling driven as I did at one time, or feeling like is it my time. I'm a social work professional but work as an Assistant Director - managing family support/engagement programs. It's great work! I just don't always bring my A game! I wonder why? I just want to do my work from a place that allows me to see and know God is involved.

I'm working on it and praying. Any advice? hit me up please hawkins.patrease@gmail.com

aliyah January 29, 2017 at 2:04am

Wow! Thank you soo much for this honest piece, it is freeing and so needed. I was literally wide eyed and praising God for this truth. We are often talking about retreats and time out etc etc, but what I really yearn for is work, the kind that only I was created for! Fist pumping the air! This article is a gem :)

Dr. Christina Crenshaw January 18, 2017 at 9:47am

Thanks ladies! Bringing my work to he Lord as worship is definitely a daily lesson and choice-- at least for me. And La-Tang, I love what you said about Cain and Abel; I had not thought of them, but you are so right!

Elizabeth January 15, 2017 at 2:15pm

Hey, thanks do much for speaking this out cos I needed to hear this. It's so encouraging! ;)

Jeanray January 15, 2017 at 4:52am

This article is so freeing and liberating! Thank you and may God continue to bless you abundantly as you worship Him in your work, and teach others to as well. Thank you!

Valerie January 15, 2017 at 2:48am

Amen, well said, especially that last line.

Rachel C. January 15, 2017 at 2:08am

This is such a refreshing read and so crucial for millennials. I meet so many students pursuing "helping" professions or ministry because it feels validating. I would love to see more students realize how God is moving and uses every industry and field for his kingdom. Kingdom transformation happens when every sphere of society looks more like him. Thanks for sharing Dr. Crenshaw!

La-Tanga January 15, 2017 at 2:03am

Amen so true, thank you for this sermon. It spoke life it reminded me of Cain and Abel and how one saw his work as worship and bought God his very best his first and oh how excellent!