Perhaps you can relate: as a student, I dreaded the frequent question: What do you want to do with your life? For a long time I really did not know. I was decent, but not exceptional at sports. I liked writing, but was not sure I wanted to major in English. I was academically solid, but lacked certainty about the best direction to point my efforts.
While deciding which field of endeavor you will pursue is an important question, there are, in fact, two even deeper questions. Why and how we do our job is central to the work itself. Colossians 3:17 says, ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’
The Why: For the Honor of Jesus
Where I am getting this ‘why’ from Colossians 3:17? Notice that is says we should do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. To do something in someone’s name implies that you are doing something honorable, and something which they would want you to do. For example, someone might make a donation in your name to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They probably would not rob a bank or shoplift in your name.
So when it says we should do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, that means that we should choose work which is pleasing to Him. This is work which Jesus would be proud on which to have His name. That does not mean that the clergy is now the only field open to you. In Colossians 1:16-17, just a couple paragraphs earlier, Paul writes about Jesus: ‘For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.’ The Jesus in whose name we work created the entire world. He created sunrises and eclipses, rain and snow, beaches and valleys, deserts and mountains. He created the incredible diversity of animals and the varieties of different gifts in men. Jesus is not honored by everyone being the same—He is honored when we recognize and work consciously at those things which we have been uniquely gifted to do. Every single person was created with a purpose. One aspect of that purpose is doing our work consciously for Jesus, who fashioned us to fill a unique series of needs in time and space.
The How: In Thankfulness
As we do our work for the honor of Jesus, we continually thank the Father through Jesus. One of the main ways we honor Jesus is by the joy we experience as we do that for which we were made. I do not mean to be artificially rosy in the picture I paint. Certainly work in a fallen world can be difficult, frustrating and futile at times. However, the work itself is a positive good, created before the fall, and something for which to thank God. This thankfulness is not merely for God’s benefit—it is for ours. As C.S. Lewis said in his ‘Reflections on the Psalms’, ‘To praise a thing is not merely to acknowledge our enjoyment, it is the completion of it.’ As we thank God for the excellence of His design in giving us purposeful work, we also experience the fulfillment of our joy in it.
Maybe you have found your calling. I hope so. Some of you may still be searching. Thankfully we all have been told the why and how of our work, whether we are truck drivers or lion tamers or scuba instructors or archaeologists or dog groomers. Work in the name of Jesus with a thankful heart to God the Father.