Finding Deeper Meaning in Our Work

Took this picture from here.
Over the last few months the Lord has been leading me into a deeper discussion and involvement with groups of people exploring the idea of marketplace ministry and a refocusing on classical notions of vocational calling.  This is peculiar because this is happening at a time when I am increasingly frustrated with, and questioning, what my future career goals and pathways are.

In an article for intrust.org Bethel Seminary professor Chris Armstrong quotes Jeff Van Duzer (the dean of the Seattle Pacific University School of Business and Economics) who says, "The average person will work 100,000 hours in their lifetime.  This seems like an enormous waste if it's spent doing fundamentally meaningless things whose only value is a paycheck."  

Armstrong quotes Van Duzer again in an article written for Leadership Journal, "Part of burnout is losing track of your purpose.  Now you're working harder and harder, faster and faster for that which is seemingly more and more meaningless."

I know the exhaustion of running faster and faster, feeling like I'm working for nothing but a paycheck.  Maybe you do too.  Many Christians sense a disconnect between worshiping God on Sunday and what they spend the bulk of their time doing the other six days of the week.  Sadly, many churches have unwittingly done little to help their congregations bridge the gap.  The net result is lots of tired men and women who don't see any connection between the purposes of God and the purpose statement on the wall at their place of business.

In reading and wrestling through this I found these nuggets of insight in Armstrong's Leadership Journal article that I find helpful as try to tie my faith and work more closely together...
Vocation, before being 'professionalized in churches,' at one time was understood to mean that everyone is called to both salvation and service, without a clergy-laity divide 
Listening to the teaching of Gregory the Great, a 6th C Pope, we learn that in order to be truly spiritual one mustn't be simply monastic, but must flow back and forth between avoiding distraction of the flesh to reach the spirit, and coming down from the heights of the spiritual life to attend to concerns of the bodily life 
Work, if properly approached, becomes for us a sanctifying thing, driving us to our knees for times of contemplation and transformation 
Luther and the Reformers said that working one's ordinary station in life with a heart renewed by the love of Christ, and showing forth there a pattern of life that glorified God and served humankind, enacted a more faithful life of prayerful discipleship 
Luther believed that in serving others through our vocations in the world, that we were masking the hands and feet of Christ, serving the world in Christ's place
I hope you might find these thoughts as helpful to you as they have been to me as I seek to find deeper meaning in my contributions to the marketplace.



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