So you aren’t married and you are not in school full-time, I have a question for you. What is your focus for your current job? Or if you are unemployed, what are you looking for in a job?
Typical answers include, “I want a good paying job so that I can live meagerly now and save up a lot of money fast.” Or similarly, “… pay down my college debt fast.” Some view their job through the lens of their singleness, “I want a job that will let me travel the world while I can.”
The theme with these answers is they view employment as a means to an end. In some cases that end is saving money or paying down debt, in some cases it is traveling the world and meeting interesting people. None of these goals are inherently wrong. But I submit to you that if your job is only chasing a goal, you will never reach the end of that rainbow.
There will always be more money you can save, there will always be another project you could lead, there will always be another promotion for which you could qualify. These are what economists would call “positive externalities” of our work, they can act as a measure of success and can certainly make our lives better. But they ought not to be our lives.
So how then should we work? For most of us, we work 40, 50, 60 hours a week or more. By far, our work is the largest portion of our lives. We need to understand that our employment is the primary way that we can serve God and serve others.
Work is holy. We know that work is not a punishment as a result of our sin, because God employed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. We know that God has created each of us with unique talents that give us a “comparative advantage” at our jobs. This means that by utilizing our God-given abilities, we can be the best person to fill a specific need. And that need should be our calling into the ministry of our jobs.
We need to further keep in mind that vocational calling is not limited to full-time work in the ministry. Martin Luther wrote in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,
Therefore I advise no one to enter any religious order or the priesthood, indeed, I advise everyone against it—unless he is forearmed with this knowledge and understands that the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone.
All works are measured before God by faith alone. This understanding has the potential to powerfully change our lives if we fully grasp its implications. For most of us this isn’t entire new, because we remember Colossians 3:23-24,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
We remember the Parable of the Talents, in which Jesus Christ teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a businessman going on a journey. He gives his three servants different amounts of money, denominated by talents. But do we always remember the full implications of parable?
Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics recently shared,
Just as the master in the Parable of the Talents expects his servants to do more than passively preserve what has been entrusted to us, so God expects us to generate a return by using our talents toward productive ends.
Our vocation is more than a job, it is a promise. Through our vocational callings, we are deputized as agent’s of God’s Kingdom with important roles in the redemptive narrative playing out in the world around us. Our jobs are actively moving us closer to the peace and wholeness of God’s will for our communities. They should remind us, like the rainbow, that God restores.
So while you are single, take the time to reflect on what talents God has given you and in what ways they can best be employed. This will make you a better employee, a happier individual, and a more complete potential partner.
*Photo credit: Schizoform