Education is not unique in that those in the profession feel “called” to their field. Other professionals—doctors, lawyers, police officers, social workers—find fulfillment in helping others. Many, like educators, also feel that their workplace is a mission field of sorts. While no tent revivals take place in classrooms, clinics or courtrooms, we who profess the name of Christ strive to share Christ’s love with the people we serve. This is how we advance the Kingdom of God here on earth, and it fulfills God’s unique call on each of our lives.
There is immeasurable value in this outward expression of our love for Christ, but our work is more than that. Regardless of our clientele or our surroundings, our service is only half of the equation. We miss what God has for us if we think that this outward expression is an end in itself. Our service to others is a means to an end—a path to a greater destination. Our work is part of an upward expression of our love for Christ. It is a way to worship our Creator.
When God created man, He gave him two directives: be fruitful and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:5, 15). Man’s original calling and purpose was to work. Before sin entered the world, before paychecks and benefits, God intended for us to work. This work was not simply a way to keep the new creation under control but a way to express our love for God and to follow in His footsteps. The first events recorded in the Bible are of God working! Work is what we do because it is what our Father does. He made His astounding creation, fashioned us in His image, and then put that creation under man’s authority. Our work is worship when we imitate our creative Father.
King David, diligent student of the Word of God, charged Solomon at his coronation to “acknowledge the God of your father, serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you…” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Solomon was not a priest. He did not spend his days praying in the temple, offering sacrifices, or singing with the temple chorus. Yet David told him to work with his whole heart and mind; this is part of the seeking and the finding. Our work is worship when we are serving God with whole-hearted devotion.
In many of his letters, Paul exhorted us to work “with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:17). His words echo in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 6:7, and Philippians 2:12-16. He explains to the Christians in Rome that we must, as our spiritual act of worship offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). What does a sacrifice that’s alive do with his or her body? Follow God’s example and get to work. Our work is worship when we work for the Lord and not men.
Maybe that’s what Jesus had in mind when He spoke with the Samaritan woman while she was working. He told her that the Father was seeking a specific kind of worshipper—one who worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4). Our spirit goes everywhere with us—to church on Sunday and to work on Monday. The Holy Spirit is ever-present, even as we spend the vast majority of our waking life at work. If we are to worship in spirit and in truth, then we must see our work as an upward expression of our love for God, serving Him with whole-hearted devotion and with a willing mind. If we worship God through our work, then when we seek Him, even in our workplace, we will find Him.