Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lord, Take the Work I Do

What do you think of your job? Are you among the lucky few who can hardly wait to get up Monday morning and who would keep their jobs even if they had no further need of income? Are you among the desperate masses who hate everything about their work and see it only as a necessary evil that must be endured to pay the bills?

Or are you one of the confused crowd who are doing what they thought they always wanted to do, whose work seems a perfect fit for their interests and talents--and yet are finding no real joy in it?

I fit into the third category much of the time. My greatest passions are for stories, information, and the written word, so "full-time writer" seemed the ideal choice of careers. (No, I'm not living in a dirty rooming house cranking out novels and scraping for food money; my kind of writing includes ads and newsletters for business concerns, plus journalism, and the income level is mostly lower-middle-class.) What I didn't count on was the stress of trying to accurately budget a freelancer's feast-or-famine income, nor of juggling eight or nine near-deadline projects. Plus--true-confession time--a good bit of me would rather read than write, would rather constantly evolve daydream-stories than put them in final forms vulnerable to outside editing and criticism.

I imagine that most people who dislike their work have the same problem; whatever they think of the job itself, they consider it less important than some "fun thing" that comes without financial reimbursement. The worst part is, many people who turn the "fun things" into profitable businesses end up not having much fun anymore--somehow, many things become less enjoyable as they start to take up half one's waking time and entwine themselves with others' expectations.

Expectations--now there's something worth noting. Whose expectations are you primarily working to fulfill? Your own? Your parents'? Your spouse's? Your clients'?

Or--God's? How many of us, as Christians, really follow the admonitition to "work... with all your heart... for the Lord, not for men" (Col. 3:23, NIV)? How many of us can honestly claim that our greatest ambition is to someday hear Christ say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!... Come and share your master's happiness!" (Mt. 25:21)? How many of us have ever even asked God for guidance in choosing or doing our work--or thanked Him for the privilege of doing it to serve Him? (The nature of the work has nothing to do with whether it serves God. A custodian dedicated to glorifying God through the work is far more pleasing to Him than a career missionary interested primarily in personal glory.)

The first step toward enjoying our work--or anything else in life--is to dedicate it to the true Source of all joy.

Lord, take the work I do,
A pittance though it be,
And use each task toward Your renown--
And turn my eyes from me.

Lord, take the path I walk,
Though slow and weak my knees,
And let it ever move toward You,
Although the whole world flees.

Lord, take the life I live,
And point toward Heaven's bright shore
Not just myself, but all I touch--
And I need ask no more.

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