May 8, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy Why do you go to work? To earn a paycheck? We all do that – it is good to have the money to buy food and clothing, put gas in our cars, pay bills, maybe invest a little for the future, and hopefully have some cash left over for fun activities. But is that the only reason you go to work?
Some people might respond that work gives them something to do. Others might comment that it helps to fill the time between weekends. You can probably think of other reasons, but years ago George Washington Carver addressed the “why go to work?” question in a way that was both powerful and profound.
Carver, who died in 1943 at the age of 79, was an African-American agricultural chemist who had discovered hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes, among others. We still benefit from many of his discoveries today. But for him, his work was much more than “just a job” in a scientific lab. He explained it this way:
“Man, who needed a purpose, a mission, to keep him alive, had one. He could be…God’s co-worker…. My purpose alone must be God’s purpose – to increase the welfare and happiness of His people…. Why, then, should we who believe in Christ be so surprised at what God can do with a willing man in a laboratory?”
He hit on a truth that too many of us never fully grasp. God has placed us here for a purpose, a mission – and if we’re aligned with God’s purpose, we will enhance the lives of others and find lasting purpose that transcends paychecks, time clocks and deadlines. Along with offering his perspective on work, Carver cited Acts 17:28, “In Him (Jesus Christ) we live and move and have our being.”
From the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, it is clear God ordained special meaning and purpose for work. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living create that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). Mankind was designated to serve as stewards over His creation. The Scriptures say more about work in terms of purpose and mission:
A primary reason we are here. The Lord did not intend to display us in His trophy case; He had work He intended for us to accomplish for His glory. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Guidelines provided for how we are to work. God did not merely create work. In the Bible, He gives instruction on what we are to do, how we are to do it, and why. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Our work will be evaluated by the Creator of work. Once our work is completed, it will be subject to divine inspection. “…here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
© 2017. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.
- How would you answer the question, “Why do you go to work?”
- Is it important to have a sense of purpose, mission or meaning that we can find in the work we do, rather than simply regarding it as a source of income? Explain your answer.
- What are your thoughts about the statements by George Washington Carver concerning the significance of work, and striving to view it from God’s perspective?
- Do you think the Bible provides sufficient instruction and guidelines on how we are to pursue the work we are entrusted to do each day? Why or why not?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 18:11, 22:29; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:17,23