God gave humanity the gift of work from the beginning of Creation.
How marvelous to be called to labor alongside God in caring for the world and for one another.
God gave humanity the privilege and task of caring for Creation.
Throughout the Old Testament, whenever anyone–from farm hands to kings–worked in ways that honored God, blessing came. For example, God blessed the poor and anxious widow of Zarephath with the resources to do the work of feeding Elisha.
In the New Testament, we continue to see how God valued honest labor.
- Jesus was born into a carpenter’s family and learned the trade himself.
- His disciples included fishermen, a tax collector, and an activist.
Women worked for the benefit of Jesus and His disciples as they traveled.
- Peter’s mother-in-law arose healed from her sickbed to serve Jesus.
- Martha welcomed and served Jesus in her home more than once.
- Many Galilean women followed Jesus and provided for Him out their resources.
Far from looking down on those who labor, Jesus recognized the worth of both employer and employee.
- Valuing the centurion and the centurion’s servant, Jesus heard the request for healing and did so.
- Later, as Jesus was being arrested, He chose to reach out to a servant and restore his severed ear.
- Finally, Jesus taught that the greatest of all is the servant for Jesus whom He Himself came to serve.
Holy moments come when we offer the work of our heads, hearts, and hands to Jesus.
Labor, work, and service are gifts and invitations from God.
Jesus taught about the necessity of using our God-given skills, talents, and gifts to bring increase to God’s kingdom.
As we employ these abilities and gifts for God’s work, we are the ones to whom God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
All Christians are holy–set aside for God and for God’s purposes. The clergy are not the only ones whose work is for God–all Christians work for the Lord.
Jesus reminds us about the difference between working for ourselves and working for Him. We are to be the laborers of the Lord’s harvest.
For the Christian, our work, our jobs, our careers, our positions are not who we are. When we forget that our true identity is as a child of God, we miss the opportunity to use the work of our heads and hands to honor and glorify God.
Our priority in life is not material but spiritual.
No Christian needs the bumper sticker, “I Owe, I Owe, So It’s Off to Work I Go.” Our goal is not gaining more stuff in this world but gaining souls for the next. We do this by living out our vocations and avocations with a constant awareness that all we do is for God and the building of the Kingdom.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians to do all that we do as to the Lord not to humans (Ephesians 6:7). Our work matters to God and when we work with God, holy moments occur.
Mother Teresa once said, “There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in–that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.”
Out of our faith comes the compulsion to give service to God. This service can come wherever we find ourselves: in the office, on the road, in front of a computer, or with a phone in our hand.
God is interested in what we do, how we do it, and the message it conveys to others.
We won’t all do the same things–and we should not.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
As we strive for excellence and as we live beyond ourselves and for God, holy moments occur. From classroom to boardroom, from street to penthouse, from stage to laboratory–we have the privilege of living out our faith as we live into our calling as disciples.
For whom do you work? Will you choose to work for Jesus?
Photo by Elizabeth Horn
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves Bel Air UMC in Bel Air, MD, as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions/Outreach and on the Boards of Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United and Be the Change Baltimore addressing issues of homelessness. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of aging parents, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance. Her sermons are archived on the following sites: www.MtCarmelChapel.org and www.BAUMC.com.
I’m Carol Pazdersky, a pastor at Bel Air United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD (Jory’s church). Spiritual formation is my passion! I have seen so many women facing burn-out because of the heavy load they carry—being a supportive partner, involved parent, care-giving daughter, strong business leader, and dedicated friend. With all that is happening, the spiritual life can take a back-seat—and without the firm foundation of Jesus, we may feel like a dry well. What are your greatest spiritual needs? How can I offer support and encouragement for your journey? On the other hand, some women have figured out the balance between faith, family, friendship, and business. I would love to have you share your wisdom as well. Email me at pazderskyc@ baumc.com with your victories, challenges, questions, and thoughts, and I will respond to them in the coming months. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.