There’s a lady at the local Waffle House location here in Rincon, Georgia who has been employed by the Waffle House since 1974. If you’re like me and need someone to do the math for you, that’s 41 years at the same job. And if you’re short on knowledge when it comes to job statistics, let’s just say 41 years with a single employer is as rare as a Christmas Island Frigatebird. On average, workers in the United States will have 11 jobs in their lifetime, which means a new job around every 4 years. That’s a lot of transition!
As I was enjoying my near-weekly All-Star Special (bacon, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, plain waffle, and wheat toast) with a black coffee (no cream, no sugar… a man’s drink) at the Waffle House this morning, I got to thinking about work and being on the same job over four decades. What is it like to step up to the same task every week for 41 years? Few will ever know. Most people think of their work in the way described in the Dave Matthews Band song Ants Marching:
He wakes up in the morning
Does his teeth bite to eat and he’s rolling
Never changes a thing
The week ends the week begins
Lights down, you up and die
When all the little ants are marching
Red and black antennas waving
we all do it the same
we all do it the same way
Unfortunately, the mundane plodding of life seems to be the very thing most people are seeking to escape as quickly as possible in this life. We often see no value in a life lived wherein we wake up, work, and go to bed most days of the week. Is that all there is? Surely the weekends and vacations should be the norm instead! But the Bible’s description of work is far different than the perception of most people. Mankind is created in the image of God, thus man is created as a worker and has the responsibility to harness and utilize the earth’s resources for service and enjoyment.
The work that God calls each person to is not a post-fall reality that we have to suffer through, but a pre-fall gift that God made us for. The first job recorded in the Bible was given to Adam by God in the garden of Eden: cultivate the ground and take dominion over all the earth. It seems like such a mundane job… gardening. But it’s a dignified and holy job because God provided it and called it good. Indeed, all legitimate work done to the glory of God is dignified and good. The post-fall reality of work is that it will be difficult and full of trials, but it’s still good and worthy of our time and effort.
I have a good friend who has a part-time job reading through essays that accompany applications to a well known university in the northeast. Apart from the lack of future writers in the stack, the other glaring reality my friend and I regularly discuss is that the average college applicant has one thing in mind: Graduate college to get a high paying job. What do they want to do with their life and what will it count for? They usually can’t say. So why do they assume a college degree means they’re worth a big paycheck and a position in the company of their choice? I believe it’s because we’ve lost sight of the value of all kinds of legitimate work and have exchanged it with a high view of self. While the developed/developing world seeks to funnel every 18-20 year old into a college, the reality is that most jobs in a standard economy don’t need a four-year college education, and are just as noble and necessary as the jobs that take 8-12 years of college. Where would we be without sanitation workers, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, roofers, and farmers? Trust me…. you don’t want me working on your car or building your house!
I hope Christians can change the conversation. Instead of marching like an ant to the workplace each day, can we instead think of our work as a noble, God-glorifying pursuit? Christians should be the best employees, wherever they work, because we work not ultimately for man, but onto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). It’s not inherently wrong to change jobs and start a new career, but it can also be an indication that we struggle to be content.
When the gospel changes a person, their entire outlook on life changes. For the workaholic, they no longer seek their identity in their job, because they know their identity is in Christ. For the sluggard, they no longer see work as a drudgery and a curse, they understand it as a gift, albeit filled with difficulties. The Christian will live life in such a way as to not bring reproach to the name of Christ, but will instead execute their duties in life in such a way that Christ is honored and exalted.
So what about you? Is a bad day of doing your hobby better than the best day of work, or is your work a gift from God that you are thankful for, that you do to the best of your ability, and that you utilize as a means to bring glory to God and good to those you work with and for?
(By: Nick Kennicott)