We may wonder why, but the mosquito doesn’t wonder. The mosquito “knows” what it was made for. Mosquitoes, along with all the birds, and cattle, and mountains, and frost and snow, and daisies in the field, and hydrogen atoms, praise the Lord.
By being a mosquito the mosquito glorifies its creator. Because by being a mosquito, the mosquito fulfills its Creator’s command.
There is beauty and freedom in that simple truth. The mosquito doesn’t waste time wishing it was a fruit fly or worrying that it isn’t as well liked as the humming bird. It simply glorifies God as a mosquito. Just as it was created to. (No more, no less.)
You and I are called to do the same. We are called to glorify our creator by being as we were created.
As administrative assistants, pastors, financiers, gardeners, parents, retail associates, cashiers, janitors, advertising executives… we are each uniquely created to glorify our Creator.
Don’t miss your chance to glorify God today by wishing you were a fruit fly if he made you a mosquito.
If you’re interested in this topic of how faith impacts your work, you should sign up to get posts sent straight to your inbox. You’ll get background info and special posts not on the blog. You can sign up by entering your email below:
It sounds click-batey but it’s true. Here are three sentences that are absolutely revolutionizing my work. They’ll do the same for you. [Full disclosure – They were inspired by the book “Let Me Be a Woman” (I was reading it by the pool, but don’t worry, it has a very masculine cover.)]
Let me be… a worker?
These three sentences are meant to be personalized and then recited whenever you are feeling lazy, scared, apathetic, frustrated, disrespected, belittled, arrogant, short tempered, or a thousand other negative ways.
These three sentences work in every situation, good or bad, and have a special way of tuning your attitude rightly. Seriously, it’s like oxiclean for your attitude (Lame analogy… Even I am rolling my eyes.)
Three sentences. I’ll give them to you all up front, then we will go through them one by one.
“Today, I am called to be a ________. The fact that I am a ________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of ________. For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
“Today, I am called to be a _______.”
Sometimes you just need to be reminded that the work ahead of you today, this hour, this minute is a calling from God. (Because it is a calling from God.)
When the Corinthians asked Paul how they should live and what they should do for work after being converted to Christianity, he answered them this way: “Let everyone lead the life which the Lord assigned to him, and in which God has called him.”
In other words, Paul said, “keep doing what you are doing. If you’re a blacksmith, that’s your assignment from the Lord and your calling from God. The same is true if you’re a butcher a baker, or a candlestick maker.” (Little known fact about Paul: biiiiiig fan of the nursery rhyme.)
So this first sentence, “Today, I am called to be a __________.” Is a reminder and affirmation that your work has significance to God himself. He’s asking you to do it (not just your boss).
For me, this sentence might read:
– Today, I am called to be an investment banker.
– In the next hour I am called to finish this memo.
– In the next 5 minutes I am called to answer these emails.
Simple truth. Easy reminder. It gets me out of my laziness pretty quickly. My motivation for doing the task ahead isn’t for anyone other than God himself, which is much more motivating to me than working for a boss I may not agree with or being prompt in my email responses “just because.” Maybe you’re the same way.
This reminder isn’t simply about the fact that we’re working for God though. It’s that he cares about the work we are doing. Afterall, why would he call you to a task that had no value to him? He wouldn’t. (1)
“The fact that I am a __________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of __________.”
There is both humility and pride in this statement. Can you see the humility? Your specific calling doesn’t gain you any special standing (bummer if you have a cool job). But it also offers pride because your specific calling can’t demote you to a shameful position (that’s good for you to hear if you think your job is low and without purpose.)
Secretly, we like to think that people with cool or sexy jobs are somehow better Christians. But no matter your job, you’re not a different type of Christian. God shows no partiality to your title, he’s after your heart.
(As a side note, and maybe it points out the absurdity that we think certain jobs earn us a better standing with God – for some people, being a pastor or missionary qualifies as a sexy job… others scoff at this position and think that the title of trial attorney or tech-startup founder qualifies as a cool job worthy of God’s approval… both of these groups disagree whole heartedly… neither are correct. But we digress.)
By reminding ourselves that we’re not a different type of Christian, we’re attacking all of the weird identity issues that come along with our work. We’re attacking both the pride and the shame of our work, the self-righteousness and self-loathing.
Read it simply: The fact that I am a ______ doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian.
I hope this helps you remember that you aren’t your work. I hope this helps you see that the work ahead of you doesn’t define you – your faith does.
Now the second half of our statement attacks an entirely different issue in our hearts. “…but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of _________.”
While the fact that you are a banker or construction worker or speech pathologist doesn’t change God’s view of you or your ability to interact with him, your identity as a child of God changes everything about the way you approach being those things.
As a Christian, you will be upright, steadfast, honest, diligent, fearless, faithful, compassionate, encouraging, patient, forgiving, shrewd, generous, and on and on… (1)
For me, when I remind myself that I will work differently, it usually encourages me to work harder. For you though, it may encourage you to be less stressed about deadlines. Or maybe you take a bigger creative risk. Or maybe you pay a little more attention to the details. Or maybe you’re a little more generous with your time and attitude.
“For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
The last of the three sentences falls into the category of “simple, but not easy.” (It may be the hardest.)
To accept God’s idea of you today means to accept every part of you. That includes all of your strengths, but also the parts about you that you currently view as weaknesses. Your lack of intellect, charisma, physical strength. The mole above your left eye, the way you sometimes say “you too” to a waiter who says “enjoy your meal”, the funny way you sign off on emails.
When you accept God’s idea of you, you accept that God created you a certain way, unique. And in that uniqueness he’s given you both strengths and weaknesses that he hasn’t given others.
You accept that God is the only perfect being and that you are not perfect.
Once you accept that, it is easier to affirm that today is an offering of praise to him. Your “whole life is an offering back to him of all there you are and all that he wants you to be.” All of your being. All of your life. Not part of it. All of it.
That means your weaknesses are used as an offering of praise, right alongside your strengths. This isn’t to say that we throw our hands up and give up on improving. But it does mean we don’t worry so much about comparing our weaknesses against other’s strengths (there’s so much freedom there anyways). We’re grateful for who God has made us to be and we respond accordingly.
“Today, I am called to be a _______. The fact that I am a __________ does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of __________. For I have accepted God’s idea of me today, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that he wants me to be.”
I don’t have a clever way to end this. No gimmick. Just a simple request: take a minute, type out (or write down) your affirmation of work, then print it out and put it somewhere you can see it. If you get off track while working, look at the note you wrote yourself. Remind yourself as frequently as you need to. (sometimes I read it three times before I get it.) I guarantee (2) it will make a difference.
(1) Hey! Footnotes, huh? If you’re interested in the theology that supports these claims (and they are beautiful theological truths!) you should sign up to get posts sent straight to your inbox. I include supporting scripture and theology there. You can sign up by enterinng your email below:
(2) Here’s the guarantee: If these three sentences don’t change the way you work, feel free to crumple them into a ball and throw them at me the next time we see each other. (I won’t even be mad.)
I want you to come alive. Maybe even for the first time.
I want your answer to the questions, “What do you do?” and “What do you want to do?” to be the exact same thing. Life is too short, and the world too desperately needy for what you you have to offer, for anything else.
Can I tell you a secret? That’s what God wants for you as well. God isn’t interested in your mediocre. He’s not interested in you curbing your dreams and desires because you are scared, or tired, or ill-equiped (or any other excuse you like to use for that matter.) God created you for something specific, and he’d be ever so pleased if you woke up to that fact and started doing what you were created to do. (You know you’d be pleased too.)
But our reality is much different from what we, or God, want: We sit at jobs we don’t particularly like, doing tasks we don’t particularly enjoy, for pay that’s less than we think we deserve. We work for bosses who don’t seem to appreciate us, see our family and friends less than we’d like to, waste the free time we do have, and generally feel kind of ‘ick’ at the end of each week. We carry a nagging guilt because our day jobs “aren’t holy”, or because we aren’t spiritual enough, or because we don’t evangelize enough… (and the list goes on and on.)
It’s draining. Every day is draining.
And is this really all there is? Is this what God planned for us? Does God want us to lead unfulfilling lives of compromise?
Hell no! And I’m here to prove it.
God wants you to be fully alive. God wants you to be fearless and focused. God wants the best of you and for you.
And that’s where this blog comes in. It isn’t about guilting you in to being a better person. It’s not about shaming you into working harder, or using fear to drive you to advancement. It isn’t even about quitting your job, or taking a life changing trip across the globe, or starting a side business.
Task and Toil is about you seeing that everything you do has meaning and purpose, no matter how mundane it may first seem. It’s about igniting your passion and showing you that the opportunities are limitless. It’s raw power – for the most menial of tasks and the largest of life’s decisions. But it’s not for the faint of heart.
Our journey together will not always be easy, but it will be built on a solid hope, a firm foundation. Exuberant yet restrained. Calm but driven. Punch-drunk but sober. It’s a tangled mess of seeming contradictions that are beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s built on the Gospel. The true Gospel. The living and breathing Gospel. The Gospel of Power. The Gospel of Might. It is good news that matters. Not theory. Action.
Task and Toil is a quiet whisper of confidence: you can do this because you have support. You can do this because you aren’t defined by this. You can do this because you are loved for who you are. You can do this because you are free.
Task and Toil is about uncovering what you were put on this earth to do, coming to grips with who you truly are, kicking fear square in the chest, punching sin right in it’s stupid face, and coming alive… truly alive… maybe for the first time even.
If you’re reading this right now, there is no doubt in my mind that I know two very specific things about you:
You are entirely unique – there’s no one on this planet like you.
You were put on this earth to do something entirely unique that no one else could ever hope to do.
(Argue with me about those two if you want, but you’ll be wrong.)
Wouldn’t it be a shame if you never did what you were created for? Don’t let that happen.
Everyone has a different calling. Let’s figure out what yours is.
And then, together, let’s get out there and do it.
“I’m called to ministry” is a thing people sometimes say.
People also sometimes say, “I’m called to serve the homeless,” or “I feel called to go to China on mission,” or even, “I really felt called to go work at that non-profit.”
“I’m called to be rich.” is not a thing people say.
People also rarely say, “I’m called to be a janitor,” or “I feel called to move to New York for work,” or even, “I really felt called to go work at that tech startup.”
My question is… why? Why do people say the first things and not the second things? Why is it ok to be called to ministry but not to commerce? Why is it fine to be called to non-profit work but not fine to be called to for-profit work?
Somewhere, at some time, we decided as a church (and as individuals inside the church) that service was a calling but work and earning money was self-directed.
It’s a lie.
Somewhere, at some time, we decided that God calls us to spiritual things, but he merely advises us on “secular things.”
Today, if you are a believer, you are called to your work (your job) the same way a church planter is called to his geography or a missionary is called to her people.
In 1 Corinthians 7:17 Paul makes it really clear:
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
Paul is talking to newly converted believers and he tells them to maintain the life “that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”
Pop quiz – how many of these newly converted believers were “in ministry” at the time of their conversion? Answer: approximately (exactly) zero. Which means that approximately (exactly) all of the new believers were called and assigned to something other than “vocational ministry.”
God called them to something. The Lord assigned them something. It wasn’t vocational ministry.
God has called you to something. The Lord has assigned it. It probably isn’t “vocational ministry”.
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