Tag Archives: Image of God

Work and Rest

Hey! You may notice a new voice. This post was written by Joe Work. (Which, can we all agree, is a good name for writing on this topic?) Joe is a UT graduate working in Technical Sales for Oracle. You can follow him on twitter at @JoeWork

Sometimes I’m astonished by the things that cultures were willing to lay down at the altars of their gods. They sacrificed their time and energy even their families to gods of empty promises. But then I remember how often I do the same thing.

We see work as an endless treadmill. We’re running and running and running to keep up with the pace, to stay plugged in and connected. Forty hours a week is a myth.

If we aren’t at work, we’re worrying about it. Sometimes, we simply like feeling busy.

Ultimately the issue is in our hearts. Work can become an idol. And sometimes, it’s the idol that we sacrifice to the most. We give up our time and energy, friends and family, to worship our jobs.

What do you find yourself laying down at the altar of your career?

Worshipping our work leads to restlessness. We begin to feel tired, no matter how much sleep we get or coffee we drink. The world tells us to produce more and work longer. It promises us satisfaction if we just work a few more late nights or refuse a couple vacation days. It promises us joy once we get there. But we never actually get there. That’s the nature of sin. Empty promises await for all of those who bow at the feet of their jobs. Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Continuous striving to attain a prize that you never actually reach. Building our sandcastles only to have the tide come in and wash them away.

We worship our jobs and starve our souls, seeking and searching, never ceasing, never resting.

But restlessness is not a characteristic of our God, nor of his followers.

He rested while creating the universe.

We can rest too.

Christian Kamiwaza

You should strive to be like the gods. Or maybe not. (Wait, what?)

In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin writes about a Japanese term kamiwaza:

“Like most great words for which we have no equivalent, it is difficult to translate. The shortest version is “godlike.”

When we strip away self-doubt and artifice, when we embrace initiative and art, we are left with kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as the gods would run.”

That statement is so close to correct, it’s almost painful. Isn’t it?

Kamiwaza isn’t something we should strive for… I mean, Adam and Eve wanted kamiwaza, to be like God, to be godlike, and it didn’t turn out so well.

So, no. Not kamiwaza. But Christian kamiwaza. (I’m not super original.)

Christian kamiwaza.

Like most ideas rooted in scripture, it’s simple to understand but difficult to master. The shortest version might be “as created.”

When we strip away self-doubt, artifice, and doubts of our Creator, when we embrace what we were created for, we are left with Christian kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with Christian kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as God created him to run.

What would Christian kamiwaza look like in your work, art, home life, friendships? You would be fearless, decisive, adept, skillful. You would be intentional. You would be humble. You would be free from the unnecessary restrictions of others or self.

You would be whole.

You would be as created.

Dignity of All Work

The dignity of all work(2) is a theme that gets brought up a lot. If you understand why all work is dignified, it will radically change the way you view your work. Guaranteed.

Simple truth: All work is dignified.

Another way to say that might be to say that all work has worth.

All types of work, if it’s work with your hands or work with your mind, has dignity.  All work offers us dignity because it reflects the image of God in us.

Work has dignity because it is something that God does, and because we get to do it in God’s place here on earth. All kinds of work have dignity. (3)

Our God is complex and diverse, with many characteristics. No single person (outside Jesus) could ever hope to reflect all of his attributes and characteristics.

Let me paint a picture for you (4): a woman sits in a penthouse board room making quarterly projections for a fortune 500 company, as she’s talking, an intern brings her a cup of coffee, outside of the office janitorial staff clean the restrooms.

When you think about those roles – CEO, intern, janitorial staff – you may feel a gap. You might be thinking “those things aren’t like the other. Even Dora the Explorer could explain that.” But the gap you perceive isn’t a gap in dignity, it’s a gap in responsibility, or a gap in function.

Each of those individuals reflects a unique aspect of God which brings their work unique dignity and worth.

The CEO, the intern, the janitor (and the barista!) – they all face unique challenges throughout the day with unique opportunities to serve God and others. They each reflect a unique image of a glorious God.

This has implications for you too. Where do you sit right now? What do you do? I promise you that no matter where you are or what your or position is, you have a totally unique opportunity to reflect God’s character in a way no one else can.

I promise you that.

Your work matters today because it is fully unique. No one. No. One. Can bear God’s image the specific way you can. (1)

(1) Hey! Was that last line useful? As it turns out, it was less than 140 characters… you could tweet it. That’s a thing I would appreciate.

(2) When I say all work, I mean most work… some work is excluded. For example: the job of a pimp is not one that aligns with or reflects God’s character. Outside the obvious outliers though, pretty much everything works out.

(3) Did I say dignity enough? Has the word stopped making sense yet?

(4)  But not really “paint” a picture… It’s a word picture… that’s a real thing I just made up.

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We’re All Serving Someone

I just read this piece, Inside the Barista Class, by Molly Osberg. It’s pretty long, but interesting. I’m having a hard time recommending you read the whole thing, but I’ll provide a link below. She is discussing being a Barista, and her experience in NYC. Blah blah blah… then this:
Serving can be deeply satisfying work, physically and emotionally; I’ve rarely felt more in my body than on those days when I got the math right, pulled the lever down on the espresso machine as I reached for the next cup, knocked out ninety drinks in an hour. But service isn’t considered lesser than other professions because it’s less honorable, or even requires fewer skills. I’d love to see a graphic designer take apart each component of an ancient espresso machine for which no manual exists, or watch a fact-checker talk a junkie out of a bathroom without getting the police involved. The knowledge required to read a customer, to justify the processes and origins of that $12 cup of coffee, is just as specialized as knowing what a nut graph is. And, to be perfectly real, this is New York, and America, and the world; just a couple steps up the food chain, we’re all serving someone.
These jobs are seen as lesser because we made them this way.

And oh man. Isn’t that great? Isn’t it so true?

Serving is dignified and respectable. Serving can be deeply physically and emotionally satisfying. Serving isn’t lesser.

But we try to make service lesser. (Who is we? Collective we? Societal we?)

When you serve someone, you get to imitate a savior who served you at great cost. His service was humiliating and painful, but he served you because it was his joy to do so. When you serve faithfully, you get to honor God in your service and bring him glory.

If you work in food service (or any other service) you get to actively mimic Jesus’ service to us. And you get to do that every minute you’re on the clock. That sounds like vocational ministry.

So I guess the point is –

Baristas are pastors. (I’m not kidding) (Tweet that.)

Isn’t service great?

Link to the article because I promised (but don’t feel obligated.) – Link

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