What is “Work”?
Over the past few months, a theme that has risen with me and finds it’s way into occasional discussions is the question of how do we define our “work”. Years ago, I thought the answer to this question was relatively simply. I got up in the morning, left the house to travel to my “work” where I put in a long hard day and then returned home. My job was what I equated to my work.
Then came a time when my wife, Lisa, quit her job to stay at home with our new baby. Let’s just say that it doesn’t take long to figure out that being a stay at home mother is extremely hard work. So, this starts to shift the mindset of what truly is defined as “work”.
For me personally, the topic has come to light as I don’t go off to a 9-5 job everyday. My office is in our home and I have clients I serve regularly outside my office; however, it doesn’t have the feel of “going off to work” every day. Additionally, a large part of my day is spent in prayer, devotion, study, writing, and other activities that in years past may not have been viewed as “work”; however, are they?
One particular time this hit me between the eyes was when we left for family vacation a couple summers ago. I distinctly remember talking to a friend in a similar situation asking him what he did about his work while on vacation. When I used to go on vacation, there seemed to be clear separation. While I would be interrupted by calls and emails from “work”, which normally didn’t sit well with the wife, I wasn’t left with this unclarity of what is “work”.
So, at the end of the day, why is this important? Well, there are a couple reasons which I’d like to touch on and ,possibly, go deeper into on another day. First, let me acknowledge God’s plan for rest with the groundwork laid in Genesis.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV)
Thus, while I’m not “religious” about the Sabbath (day of rest), I do believe God created man with an intention of having a day of rest each week. This raising the question, however, as to what should this day of rest look like.
In our traditional mindset, we go off to our 9-5 five to six days per week, maybe do a little bit of work around the house on our off days, and look at some time period during our off day as a time of “rest”. But, is it really “rest”? For example, say you enjoy tending your garden on the weekend and have a since of peace in doing so. It doesn’t feel like work to you, however, is it? Or, maybe your serving in your local church on Sunday in a wonderful ministry opportunity. Is this “work”? Hum, am I really experiencing what God desires as “rest”? I’ll let you ponder that one.
Now, briefly, let me also share the prospective of we’re created to work and seem to be defined by our work. So, I’ve personally have had to wrestle with God a bit on how to define Chris’ work. You see, there are days I just want to get up, walk out the door, and walk into a traditional job. Deep down this is a “worth” and “value” conversation that I’ve had to wrestle with God. That being said, He’s been reshaping my view of “work” and “rest”. In my case, times of reading, reflecting, writing, sitting across the table from someone simply encouraging them, which all in some sense might be viewed as pastoral, that is my “work” for today. And, to that extent, my writing this blog today in hopes of encouraging others is my “work” as well. Again, too big of topic to break down today, however, something for you, too, to ponder.
Like I hope is the case for many of you, much of what I do doesn’t feel like “work”; however, it is “work”. Thus, I must careful of how I associate my “work” and “worth”. I, also, must continue to be intentional about what “rest” looks like in my week. Reflecting through today’s lens, I’m betting your have similar challenges, and I’d encourage you to do the same. Need some help? Well, that’s my “work” and I’d love to serve you.