My Job, His Purpose

This summer, I am working as an intern. (Right now, I’m pausing my writing – which is also part of my job – to feed sheets of blank labels into the printer.) I know God cares, but as I perform the tasks assigned to me, I often feel like a small cog in a large machine.  In this position, am I making an impact for God?

In his book, Every Job a Parable, John Van Sloten writes that every job has a part in God’s narrative. He explains that Jesus is hidden in the friendly face of the Walmart greeter and in the attentiveness of a waitress just as much as in the “important” decisions of the executive. Jesus lived as a servant. What we think of as “low,” Jesus values highly. God prizes the copy editor as much as the well-funded publisher or the brilliant writer.

Van Sloten asks, “Could it be that every good relational act that you undertake is actually a manifestation of the triune communal love of God?” This question is changing my perspective at work. It is helping me focus not on the smallness of my tasks but on the worth my work gives to others.

During this internship, I know that my work helps the team. I know, in a general way, that I am contributing to the publishing process.

Even so, I want to see more tangible results. Honestly, I’d settle with seeing any results. From one perspective, I’m only printing labels. But when I remember that a real person is represented by this name and address and remember that all tasks count, even when I can’t see the results, I know that I am helping. With a little work, I can imagine the encouragement and hope that these mailing labels give. When I change my perspective, I complete my work to the best of my ability, confident that God uses it beyond what I ask or imagine. My work, all work, is a gift from God and part of His redemptive story.

Resources

  • How are you feeling about your own work? About life in general? Take this survey and tell us how you’re doing and what you think it takes to prepare for a fruitful life. To show our appreciation, we’ll send you a $5 giftcard (to Starbucks, Cold Stone Creamery or Amazon). The survey should take 10-15 minutes. The deadline for participating is Monday, September 4th.
  • Don’t feel like your job is meaningful? Try searching the Scriptures to find God performing actions that you do every day. (For example, can you find places where God manages people, does “marketing,” creates orderly systems, raises children, runs a classroom…?)

If you have time for a book, Melody recommends Every Job a Parable. She loves how it “incorporates theology, philosophy, art, history, literature, politics and pop culture into a worldview that gives meaning to every job.”