When I mentioned to a friend that I think everyone should find a job they love, he responded that some people just need to make a living. Is this a cop-out?
Having been blessed with a job that I love, I also want others to have a job where they find meaning and where their gifts and experiences can be shared in ways that honor creation, others, and God. I also realize that brokenness and sin affect society, so all work involves some kind of struggle and toil. In some cases, it feels as if the best thing that can be said about a job is that it provides enough money to make a living, and we should lament that some jobs don’t do even that.
As Reformed Christians, we believe our work is a calling from God (Our World Belongs to God, 48). Yet our understanding of work as a calling can lead to an unhealthy idealism around work and how much we work. Work should not be the only way we honor creation, others, and God. That makes work an idol.
Because work, whether paid or unpaid, is a calling from God, it shouldn’t just be something we drudge through simply to get a paycheck. Work will usually be hard, yet the Bible encourages us to learn to be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11). It's not helpful to make those who dislike their jobs feel guilty, but we can help others remember that God is present with us in whatever we do and whomever we meet: in the prayers we might say for those using the things we make, in the warm smile we give to customers who are lonely, in the thankfulness we have for the buildings and vehicles we use, and in the grace that we show others.
While a job can be a blessing, it is good to remember that not everyone might feel blessed by their job. Those with the worst jobs are often young or marginalized and don't always have the ability to change jobs. Those of us with more power can do our best to advocate for working conditions that provide an environment that is as safe and life-giving as possible.
About the Author
Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink is the CRC chaplain at the University of Toronto. She attends Willowdale CRC in Toronto, Ont.