Most of us spend the majority of our waking lives working. Some of us work a conventional 9-to-5 job, some of us are self-employed, some of us are voluntary workers, and some of us are stay-at-home parents. All of these roles are necessary for any society to function properly. But many people assume that pastors, priests, missionaries and other people in "godly" professions are doing more important work than those in "secular" professions.

The Bible doesn't support this view. Instead we can see that many of the people God chose to use had non-religious roles. Abraham was a trader; Luke was a doctor; Matthew was a tax collector; Joseph was a prime minister; David was a king; Esther was a queen. Even Jesus was a carpenter by profession.

The first instruction God gave to mankind was: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28) And Genesis 2:15 says that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to "work it and take care of it". So it's clear that work was a big part of God's plan for humanity from the very beginning and there was never meant to be any distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual work. 

All work, no matter how mundane or menial, can be a form of worship when we have the right attitude to it. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-40). When you apply yourself to your work with passion, commitment, and integrity you are in fact honouring God and loving the people you work with and for — your boss, your colleagues, your business partners, your clients.

However, if we're not careful we can end up worshipping work rather than worshipping God through our work. When we start pursuing everything that work offers — status, wealth, recognition, power, and so on — to the detriment of everything else, we run the risk of allowing work to become a god. We become slaves to work, constantly chasing after the next promotion, accolade, business deal.

In order for us to see work as worship rather than something to be worshipped, we need to be secure in who we are — secure in what God has accomplished for us. When a person allows the truth of the gospel to inform their identity they are able to face the vicissitudes of working life with confidence and focus their energy on doing their job well rather than on striving continuously for the trappings of worldly success.  

If you would like to know more about what the Bible says about work, listen to Pastor Ryan's sermon series Monday Matters. Recordings are available on YouTube and Soundcloud.