“…And Jesus loved his job.”

In case you’re wondering where that scripture is located… it isn’t. That’s not in the Bible. Nowhere does it indicate that following in His earthly father’s footsteps as a carpenter was a burning passion of His.

Why do I bring this up? Well, a meditation I heard over Labor Day weekend on the topic of “labor” got me thinking about my attitude toward work and the whole “What would you do if you had $1 million dollars?” concept. The concept goes something like this: If you stumbled upon $1 million (which should maybe be raised to $10 million to account for inflation) and had little-to-no debt to retire, you’d likely abandon your dreadful day job and take up the true desire of you heart. After completing this little exercise, you are then driven to ask yourself: “What’s stopping me from pursuing this dream? Is it really that far off? Is it really a matter of money?” … stuff like that.

I’ve played that game a few times, once quite recently actually, and never have I answered the way I ought to: “Whatever God tells me to do with it.” Of course, that response would be cute and trite to most people, but it’s really the only answer we should have for many questions. Instead, we take such questions as opportunities to indulge and fantasize about the way we’d have things pan out were it up to us, figuring that’s obviously the most satisfying result. Nobody knows us like we do ourselves, right?!!? Wrong. We forget entirely that the most satisfying life is the one lived in line with God’s will and that nobody knows us like God.

What does this mean? It means that having passion for God and His will should be our focus, not finding a job we’re “passionate about.”

Many of you older than I am might struggle to understand what I’m talking about, because your weren’t raised in an educational system and culture that seeds these thoughts from an early age. Most people my parents age simply embraced a job that paid that bills and that was it. There of course is a balance to be found here: God-given dreams ought not be squelched out of fear, worry or doubt. They should be pursued. But I think people my age and younger, myself included, are often presumptuous with the idea that God’s will is to make us happy and that we can’t minister for Him passionately and with all our hearts unless we’re placed exactly where we think we should be. We’re tempted to think that settling in and working 8-5 is just that: settling.

Well, tell that to Daniel or Joseph. They didn’t pick their career tracks and they somehow managed to do their work with excellence and serve the Lord mightily. They didn’t draw their passion from their work, but from their Lord. What about Paul? Was he particularly passionate about being a tent maker? Maybe, maybe not. I can’t think of a verse that tells us he loved his day job. What we can infer is that to a certain extent, he considered his trade a means to an end in that he didn’t have to burden the churches he ministered to by requesting money (need citation). We also know that Paul said he was content in all situations (Phil. 4:11).

What drove all Biblical giants was serving God and pleasing the Father. That’s where their passion lied. The “calling” they strove to understand the most was the calling to fellowship with God and obedience to His will. From my limited understanding and knowledge of scripture, I don’t see any indication that they really sought out the inner secrets of their heart and demanded their lives see them come to fruition.

In fact, we see in Ecclesiastes that this can be utterly unfulfilling (2:9-11):

So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.
Also my wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Solomon was operating in great wisdom at this time and he was still led astray by his heart. And we’re teaching kids that following the desires of their hearts is a key to understanding their calling? The last thing Moses’ desired was to be God’s spokesman to Egypt. Jesus Himself pleaded that God take the cross off his path. Gideon had no inclining that he was a mighty man of valor. It wasn’t set in his heart to go to battle. Yet these three feared God more than they feared living life without passion. As a result, they found unfleeting passion in God.

I guess what I’m doing here is challenging myself most of all, and the casual reader of this blog as well, to look to the Lord for your passion and fulfillment and not your work. Even in my new job, which is much more pleasing that my last one, I find myself unfocused, dreaming of greener pastures… pastures that “fit me better” and ones that I’m “truly passionate about.” That’s all fine and well… and I believe God gives us holy discontentment to keep us chasing after Him. But never, never, is that to keep us from inviting Him into our now moments, seeking to minister for Him and please Him by working as unto Him.

The heart is a testy thing and prone to distraction and deception. Even though we’re saved and redeemed, we have a bent toward rebellion and harlotry. Most of us are still very immature in our faith and have little mastery of our flesh. Our heart’s desires must bow in submission to the Lord and His desires.

I know some of you are going through hard times at work and have unappreciative work environments (Scott and Sherry in particular). This blog is not directed at you; it’s just me thinking through and processing a topic that has come up in my life recently. I know it’s very hard to feel unsatisfied with how 40+ hours of a week is occupied.

I hope this helps all of us find a way to connect with the Lord and allow Him to make what can be very dry land lush, fruitful and beautiful.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

6 Comments

Sherry

about 10 years ago

this is good. some of it, i heard some of it from some one today. I guess I need to figure out the semantics of the heart. Because Elridge has taught us that the heart is good - that we have a new heart. But iHop teaches that the heart is decidedly wicked. What is the answer?

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Joel

about 10 years ago

Yeah. Me too. Nearly the whole time I was writing, I was thinking, "This doesn't exactly jive with a lot of what Eldredge teaches." I think you're right, though, in that it is more semantical than anything. There certainly is a difference between sanctified heart and fleshy heart. And I think they intermingle at times; it isn't exactly an off/on relationship. Basically, I'm all for hopes, dreams and visions. But I think I had strayed a little bit and let them get before Him. They aren't the point; He is. Using Abraham and Moses as the example, I believe it's possible to serve him whole-heartedly and hope for the Promise Land and not ever get there... yet not feel shafted by the Lord because you've fellowshipped with Him the whole time. HE'S the exceedingly great reward, not the fulfillment of the dream.

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Jonathan

about 10 years ago

Joel Joel Joel. This has to be one of the best post I have ever read. I think your comment above about the difference between sanctified heart and fleshy heart is right too. We are at war. As Paul said: "...Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do0not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man than I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." It is not exactly an on/off relationship. We are saved and being sanctified. Like a 60 year old saint that is still struggling with the same stupid sin than keeps pooping up from time to time. But Thanks be to Jesus Christ! We have someone else's sacrifice that counts as our righteousness. I have read Eldredge too. I like a lot of what he says, but I do not completely agree with him. Paul the apostle says the heart is bad. I think I am going to stick with him. Jesus says "No one is good. Not one." I think I will stink with him even more:). I think alot of what Eldredge has to say is good stuff to think about. But we are not completely changed yet. I will not trust my heart. I will just (by God's grace) pursue Christ as the EXCEEDINGLY great reward, reguardless of what i think my heart wants.

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BK

about 10 years ago

Joel, I was clued in to this entry by your mother, and I'm very glad I was. I am in agreement with Jonathan in saying this is one of the best posts I have read. In fact, I will print it and refer to it from time to time as I need to be reminded of the importance of servanthood in daily life. I have found that when I am the least satisfied with my work, I have been the least concerned with working as for the Lord. I have looked to bosses and colleagues to provide the affirmation that I am doing good work (personal glory), rather than using my work and work ethic as a witness to others (God's glory). Thanks for the thoughts.

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Emily

about 10 years ago

Hmmm, might have to use some of these thoughts and responses later in the semester when we teach a segment on vocation and calling...or might have to get you to be part of a panel discussion. Thanks for the thought provoking writings! Can't wait til we can get the FFI mini reunion group together. I need real discussions like this in my life. :)

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Joel

about 10 years ago

Thanks for the positive feedback, peeps. As usual, I had no idea as I was writing the post that people would resound with it so much. Thanks for putting me to work, Lord :)

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