“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Ps 127:1)
What does it mean to our daily work that we are called to be workers in God’s Kingdom? We’ve thought about the call for strong ethics, love and compassion toward our co-workers, and so on. These are all good things. But how does what we do in our daily occupations have anything to do with God’s Kingdom? The Faith at Work movement has talked increasingly about the fact that we are laborers in God’s Kingdom, but it can be hard to make that connection, particularly for those of us working in service industries where the end result is hard to see even in worldly terms.
It strikes me that in some sense or other, we are all builders. Even a demolition team is building an open, reusable and valuable space. As a banking consultant, I build high-level solutions for banking products. Others then come along and build detailed specifications for the technology, operations, and other ancillary functions that go with them. Then still others come along and build the software and operations procedures that will make them work. Others build sales and marketing literature, and relationships with potential customers.
Yes, we’re all builders, but how do we know that what we are building is of value? Paul says that he has built a foundation for the church and that others will come along behind him to build out the new Temple. “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light … and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. “ (1 Cor 3:12-13) That’s pretty scary when I think about my daily work.
Our key verse from Psalm 127 makes a very bold claim. If it is not the Lord who is building whatever we are building, then we’re wasting our time. Ouch! If I’m just working for my own fulfillment, enjoyment, enrichment, survival – whatever it is – then I’m wasting my time. Even if I can clearly see the value to the bank’s commercial customers, and their ability to serve the community with their products and services, it may all be a waste of time. Actually it isn’t my time at all that I’m wasting, it is God’s time, because He is the one to whom everything we are and have belongs.
These verses tell me that everything I do must arise from my relationship with Him. I find it hard to commit every aspect of my job to Him in prayer, but surely I must. I need to be seeking wisdom and guidance from Him – not just when I’m stuck but at all times (James 1:5). Most of all, perhaps, I must continually strive to understand God’s mission for the world, and especially the part that I can impact. I must continue to grow in my ability to play the part He has planned for me. All of this requires daily – or even hourly – infilling with the Holy Spirit. Only in the Spirit can I be the builder God created me to be.
It has been quite a while (years) since I posted to this blog. Hopefully I will be able to work through this huge topic from time to time coming up. I would value feedback and help! (GSS)