How Is Flipping Burgers An Act of Worship?

Your work is your worship.

Really?

How is stacking boxes in the warehouse an act of worship? Is taking calls from irate customers an act of worship? Where’s the worship part in flipping burgers?

I know the idea sounds preposterous to our ears. The gap between work and worship in our personal experience is too wide. No matter how much we are told that work is worship, we just don’t feel their connection. Yes it is true that one of the Hebrew root words for work is the same for worship. Yes it is true that God is a working God, and that makes my work more of a privilege than a duty. I can comprehend the idea in my head. But what good is all that when I have to drag myself to the office every single day? How does this help me deal with the dull ordinariness of my job?

In our victory group yesterday, the guys and I talked about these questions. I mentioned that God could have easily made chairs and tables and cabinets to be picked like fruits from trees. Why did He have to leave it up to us to cut down a tree, do some wood work, and create chairs, tables, and cabinets? Why did He heave to “rely” on our creativity to make furniture? Or God could have easily made lechon grow in gardens. Why would He burden us with processing this food using a combination of tough manual labor and ingredients?

The answer is that by giving us work, God gave us room to participate in His creativity. Like a mother allowing a child to help wash the dishes when she could very well do a fine (and better) job at it, God invites us to build and create something out of the raw materials He made. He gave us trees so we could make chairs, and maybe ships, and skyscrapers, and art, and bonsai, and a thousand other useful things. Work delights us because our creativity testifies to the fact that we are indeed created in His image in a “like Father, like children” manner. Step back a little and let that sink in.

The fall of man, however, impaired our high vision of work. We are supposed to look at work as a happy privilege and a delightful gift. Instead, our fallen natures blurred it and made us see work as a monotonous burden. The first time we report to a new job, we see clearly how delightful it is to find work we like. This delight takes an ugly turn once the initial excitement wears off and work becomes a daily routine. We don’t see the privilege anymore. What we see is the monotonous flipping of burgers, filing of reports, and tabulation of data. Instead of the joyful privilege of participating in the delightful work of God, we only notice the soul-crashing deadlines and the boss’ impossible demands. Because of this, we default to mindless routine until we burn out and ask God for a change of job, industry, calling, or vocation.

I believe the problem is not the job or the line of work. The problem is the blurring of the vision. The problem is us losing sight of the wondrous privilege of building something out of the raw materials God gave us. Copper workers usually don’t see this. They work on this seemingly boring mineral in the morning and check out of work in the afternoon. Nothing eventful happens outside of the repetitive jokes and endless factory stories. If they only knew that their jobs make iPhones possible, they could have taken pride each time they see an iPhone commercial on TV or in print. These talented copper workers don’t need a change of jobs; they need to peel their eyes and see that their jobs actually help turn the wheels of the world forward.

I believe the same thing is true for Christians. Many of us probably don’t need a new job. What we need is a high view of work redeemed by the gospel of Christ. We need to see our work stations with fresh eyes. We are not just doing 8am-5pm duties: we are building, creating, and shaping something just like our Father does. The moment we realize this is the moment our work becomes our calling.

Why We Take Pride in Fixing Broken Cabinets

The gospel gives fresh meaning to our otherwise boring jobs. We don’t just work to make money. We work because God designed us to be creative. There’s a sense of pride every time we fix a broken cabinet. We feel happy when we accomplish our office tasks for the day. We look at our trimmed gardens and lawns with a sense of satisfaction. We get our salaries with a feeling that what we do matters to the world. Our work has meaning when we realize that our hands are doing exactly what God created them for: to be creative because our God is creative.

Changing the World by Doing Errands?

And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.
(1 Samuel 17:17-18 ESV)

For David, greatness started by keeping their family’s flocks and delivering food to his siblings in the trenches of war. It didn’t start by coming up with a grand vision for success nor by acting like a big shot every chance he got. David’s rise to kingship started with faithfulness in doing simple, ordinary chores.

Many people would like to change the world; very few are willing to change diapers. Or wash the dishes. Or do laundry. But that’s exactly where world-changing begins– at home.

No Such Thing as Accidental Godliness

Many of us are very disciplined in other areas of life but are remarkably undisciplined in our Christian lives. We know that in order to excel in our chosen fields, we need to practice, work hard, sacrifice, commit for the long haul, and endure intense training. We excel in our careers, play great basketball, make great music, fly high in our academics, and yet we flounder in the area of disciplined godliness. We understand the commitment necessary to excel in other things but we don’t seem to see the need for the same commitment to grow in Christ. Somehow, we think that becoming like Jesus doesn’t take much effort, as if we could just wake up one morning and suddenly we’re godly.

What’s the Deal with Spiritual Disciplines?

God uses three ways to change us and conform us to the image of Christ: people, circumstances, and spiritual disciplines. Of all three, only one is under our control: spiritual disciplines.

First, God uses people to change us. Proverbs 27:17 says is well: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ Our relationships with friends, family, spouse, coworkers, neighbors, pastors, teachers and all sorts of people all mixed together create ample opportunities for us to learn, be corrected, be rebuked, be changed, and become godly in the process, however we react to them.

Continue reading What’s the Deal with Spiritual Disciplines?

Chasing After Big Visions

We have become so enamored with chasing after big visions that we often forget the power of ordinary living. But God works in the ordinary; and much of the decisive moments of Bible history happened in ordinary places. Esau lost his birthright in the kitchen. Moses parted the Red Sea with an old man’s walking stick. Jesus used bread and wine as symbols of the new covenant. The truth is that big visions are often achieved by faithful, ordinary Christian living, not by sporadic spasms of great deeds.

In The Apartment Where I Live, There is this Elderly Lady…

In the apartment where I live, there is this dear elderly lady who waves at me almost every morning before I go to work. If I am within earshot, she would always say, “Good morning Pastor!” I’d smile, beam back my chirpiest good morning, crank my motorcycle, and speed out of the gate.

She knows I am a pastor. I knew she is related to the owner of the apartment where I live but I never really tried to find out her story. One time when I did a dedication service for their family’s computer shop, we exchanged a few sentences over breakfast. She said she liked my exhortation and that she appreciated that I recited the Apostle’s Creed. Continue reading In The Apartment Where I Live, There is this Elderly Lady…