In Christian circles, we hear people saying with gleaming eyes that their work is their calling: their daily chores are acts of worship. And yet to all those other people, the ones sitting in mortgage companies and DMV offices and drive-through bank windows, I dare say it’s not always beautiful.
You may feel like it’s just busting rocks, and the best part of the day is five o’clock when the whistle sounds.
We all have times like this, wondering if our lives make a difference. Thinking we might have made a horrible wrong turn and wishing we could just jump off the hamster wheel and go live in Colorado. Midlife pushes us down like a class bully and makes us believe the lies that our jobs don’t matter and our lives are forgettable. Work can be monotonous. The piles of paper never end. Thursdays make you sigh and plod along to the break room and wish Kathy from accounting would just retire already.
But then I think of Jesus. He spent twenty-nine years in a hot carpenter shop. And not the New Yankee Workshop variety. We all glamorize it in our minds, like handsome Hollywood Jesus was sitting in a halo-filled glow smoothing out the edges of a maple sideboard. I’m sure it was really a more mundane job involving tables and benches, having to hear one guy complain about the size or some sweaty schmuck double an order but keep the deadline the same. I’ll bet Joseph was just constantly snickering to himself, like “Dude. You don’t know who you’re talking to.”
And I realized that there is so much to be gained by the act of work itself, regardless of what we do. Whether we usher people toward tables or settle financial books or answer phones all day – it’s a time to grow our patience, and treat others the way we would want to be treated. We can practice our faith by cleaning out the refrigerator and helping someone with a project that was not assigned to us. And when someone else gets credit for our work, we just smile at pat them on the back, because we aren’t made for this world anyway. And who freaking cares if people think Bill did it all, when Bill can’t spell his own first name and people will find out in time. Give it to him. He’s single and hairy. He needs this.
Work is where we can really practice our faith – not by reading about it or praying on Sunday, but by respecting our elders, and apologizing when we’re wrong. When we get angry, we own it. When we get impatient, we fix it. And when you see someone sitting at their desk every day for lunch because no one wants to talk to them, you can stop, and listen, and truly hear their story.
Look around your office. There are tired, unhappy, overworked people in need of YOU. They need joy and laughter and someone to come surprise them with a Starbucks card on a Wednesday. And when you hollah at em at the copy machine – Hey there, Maria! – do it with a smile. You are lucky enough to be placed in the middle of a worship field. One ripe with opportunities to display your faith.
There was once a carpenter, years ago, who put his head down and did his job, day after day, table after table, sore backs and all. He was likely thinking, and creating stories in his mind, and talking to God on a regular basis. And one day he stepped away from that role and into another, and changed the world. He needed the years to grow, and mature, and so do we.
So tomorrow, as you get up for work, act in a way you’ve been trained. Live out what you’ve been preaching to your children. Rise early, hug your kids, plan dinner in advance, and treasure those two hours at night you have with your family. It’s all okay, don’t you see? You are doing well. When in doubt, friends, hear me loud:
God has you right where you need to be.