Monday, Monday

Should have found this yesterday for everyone returning to work (Monday is my day off, so I suppose it sort of counts posting it today, on my Monday).  

This is a good essay on the value of work.  Not spiritualized work (although the one comment at the time of posting seems to lead back down that road slightly), but your average 9-5 work that pays the bills and blesses the world around us.  
When I made the decision (with my wife’s help!) that seminary and professional ministry was what I needed to be doing, there were some people close to us that really challenged us on this decision.  They were adamant about how we were already and could easily continue to work our jobs (mine as a full-time college instructor) and serve the Lord without having to become a pastor.  I agreed completely, but still felt that ministry was where I was supposed to be.  I’ve never regretted that decision, and eventually those sorts of conversations fell away as we moved through the process towards that goal.
Full-time ministry is a fine option, but it isn’t the ideal, per se.  Congregations utilize pastors.  They have grown accustomed to having pastors that dedicate their full attention to the job (though more and more congregations are being forced to consider bi-vocational pastors because they can no longer afford to support a dedicated full-time minister).  
But the world needs doctors, teachers, factory workers, IT professionals, game designers, florists, trash collectors, farmers, and all manner of other vocations.  I couldn’t be in full-time ministry without the contributions of myriad professions that allow me to focus on the ministry rather than growing my own food (though we are looking forward to doing more of that in the future!).  Vocation is important.  It is important because we are communal creations and we need one another to live – and certainly to live well.  The activity of work in and of itself is a way of loving my neighbor, which is the tangible expression of my love for God.  
Can I pray that the Holy Spirit use me at work to encourage and witness to my colleagues?  Sure.  But my work witnesses to them as well – my attitude about my job, my willingness to help out and go the extra mile, my intentional viewing of my work not as just a means to a paycheck, but as a contribution to my neighbors.  At the end of the day, the value of my work before God lies there.  As the author of Ecclesiastes said in the Old Testament reading assigned for this past Sunday:  “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:18)
Happy Monday!

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