Recently at City Seminary, which is put on by City Life Church, we studied the doctrine of a Creator in a material world. As I thought more about God as creator, his purpose in creation, and the value of creation itself, it inspired me to think about how this might affect my job. Honestly, there are some days where I struggle to find purpose in my job. If I do find purpose, I tend to only think in terms of self-fulfillment, or having my needs met. There is a far greater, deeper, and glorious truth about the purpose of our work, and it’s found in the doctrine of creation. I will follow the outline we used at City Seminary, that we believe creation was created by a triune God, ex nihilo (out of nothing), and goes to Christ.
Triune God Creating
As I meditate on a triune God creating out of an overflow of love, community, and deference within themselves, it inspires me to do work together. I can defer to those who are more skilled than I am, and enjoy seeing them create and work. There is beauty in community accomplishing goals. Working at our jobs can be an expression and exercise of this communal, deferring act of creating. How would my co-workers respond, when instead of trying to stroke my ego, I defer to them and praise them for their skills? Doing this expresses the love of the Trinity in a tangible way and is fundamental for being on mission to make disciples in our workplaces.
Ex-Nihilo (Out of Nothing)
God created a masterpiece out of nothing. Though at times our jobs seem mundane and meaningless, we serve a God who created everything out of nothing. We can trust that he, as Creator God, can take the mundane, and paint a masterpiece for his glory. Rest in his sufficiency to work wonders, and not our own skills. Our creativity at our jobs reflect this aspect of God. How can we make our workplaces a more creative, and better place to work? Think how God might use your skills to create out of the mundane. God regularly uses the mundane in redemptive history to accomplish his mission (Matt. 1:18-25 – Mary was an ordinary girl who carried the Savior) and it should be no surprise he uses the mundane as we live on mission in our workplaces.
Purposeful (To and For Christ)
This aspect affected my thoughts profoundly. The purpose of my job isn’t found in my needs being met, or my own self-fulfillment, nor is it merely meaningless and mundane. Rather, my job has purpose because it’s going somewhere. It’s not climbing the corporate ladder, but going to Christ. It’s also for Christ (Rom. 11:36). It’s not a stagnant job, but, as with creation, it is on a path of renewal, by the Spirit, towards Christ, as he carries and upholds it. My job has telos (goal) because creation does (Rom. 8:18-25).
Ultimately, this is an expression of loving God and loving others well (Matt. 22:37-40). At our jobs, churches, any place of influence, how we work matters, because through it, we can bless others and glorify God. What if we ceased to only think of our jobs as ways to generate income, and instead a way to also create culture, and bless God and others? (Gen. 1:22, 28; 2:15; Matt. 28:18-20).
Practically, this means that by working well for our employers, or working well on projects, we mirror a Trinitarian God who creates and is interested, or better, who is acting in this world to redeem and restore. Our excellence then drives others’ attention to God’s final work in redemption and re-creation in the new heavens and earth.
Create and Restore
At City Life, we have a phrase we use called “create and restore.” This is an excellent way to view our workplaces; as places to create, but also places to restore. As disciples of Christ, in an ever increasing transient culture, we can mirror the Trinity’s valuing of creation as we value and see our workplaces as places to create in and bless, instead of places to coerce or conquer. As Hugh Halter says in Flesh, we must not over-spritualize ministry, and over-secularize our jobs. If this doctrine of creation begins to swallow up our view of our work, we will no longer use our work as a way to create our own god, but instead use it as a way to mirror, and glorify the Trinitarian God who creates out of an overflow of love.
Collin Seitz is an almost 30 years old, grateful husband to Allison, father to Hudson and Hannah, learner, and most importantly disciple and lover of Christ and His Kingdom. He enjoys a nice cup of Oolong Tea, reading, playing basketball, and watching his kids grow up. He and his family are currently a part of City Life, and he is a church planting resident there. He blogs at For Christ, City, and Culture. Twitter: @Collin_Steitz