God’s Design for Fulfillment in Work

Work is designed by God for our fulfillment.  It is a gift, not just a duty.  It is for our betterment, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  It is the enemy of our souls that has robbed us of the joy of work.  He has made us to think that work is just a means to an end, or a requirement in order to earn a relaxing retirement.  The loss of the joy that is to be found in work has numerous consequences. For those who try to avoid it, or only do the minimum, it can have significant financial consequences.  For those who do it out of a duty, it will often have emotional, psychological and physical consequences stemming from undue stress.  For those who may enjoy their job on some level, but see it as just something they do so that they can go home and do what they really want to do, they will miss the true joy and fulfillment that God intended for them in that part of their lives that tends to consume a large number of available hours.

Just to clarify, this is not meant to say that work is supposed to come before family or before God, but rather this is intended to create a rebalancing in our thinking.  Many years ago, it became common to hear negative talk about “workaholics,” people who spent too much time at work at the expense of family and other important things in life.  That gave rise to the concept of work-life balance that so many people now value.  The problem is that the pendulum has swung too far the other direction to where work is no longer valued in the position that it should be.  People have begun to use the term “work-life balance” as a defense of laziness and their disdain toward the work portion of that balance.  

To understand God’s perspective on work, we need to start at the beginning.  In Genesis, the first things that God communicated to Adam were regarding the work that he was to do (Genesis 1:28).  Adam’s job was to take what God had created in the Garden of Eden and spread it throughout the earth.  In order todo that, Adam had to apply his brain.   He had to learn how the plants grow and what they needed.  The Internet did not exist to give him these answers.  He had to observe and experiment.  He also had to think with an engineering mind as he worked to spread the lushness of the garden outside its borders.  He had to consider construction of irrigation channels and the layout of how he would progress.  Then, he had to apply physical labor to accomplish the plans he had laid out.  

The breakdown in people’s understanding of why all this work would be considered good is partially in missing the end results.  Mental labor stimulates the mind and adds excitement as new thoughts are realized.  It is invigorating at those moments that you are “firing on all cylinders,” and it has the effect of bringing a renewal of energy to you.  Similarly, physical labor, such as when Adam had to construct canals or plant new crops offers numerous benefits.  Physical labor is good for the body and not only builds strength, but also improves our overall health, physically and mentally.  In the process of physical work, your body releases endorphins, reducing stress and giving you a sense of well-being.  These effects can actually lead to an overall improved life as they create more positive thoughts for you and lead to additional good decisions in every area. On top of all this, you have the satisfaction of productivity, being able to see your finished product and knowing that you have made a contribution to the world around you.  If you choose to shy away from the work, however, you also miss the numerous benefits.

Ultimately, work is meant to bring fulfillment to your life.  There is a purpose for which everyone was created, and there is work involved in order to realize it for yourself.  As you put in the effort, however, and you begin to understand your giftings in this world, you will start to find a joy that is unlike any other.  Your energy will have a source of ongoing replenishment because your passion will be ignited.  You will find fresh reasoning to get up every morning. 

For some of you, this may sound like it can’t be true.  It doesn’t make sense.  All I have to say to you is talk to anyone who has had real and lasting success in life.  Ask the NFL player how he worked for his position.  Ask the wealthy business owner what it took for him to get where he is.  Ask the TV star how many parts he got turned down for as he continued to work to make it big.  Ask those who are successful about work.  When they tell you what it took for them to get where they are, then you can ask yourself, “What are you willing to do?”  Do you want success? If so, are you willing to re-think your position on work?  The reward is there for those who will go after it.