I'm a fan of The Pacifier, the 2005 action comedy starring Vin Diesel as Shane Wolfe, the U.S. Navy SEAL assigned to protect the children of a man killed by Serbian rebels. One of my favorite scenes shows the dim-witted high school vice principal and wrestling coach telling the family's oldest son to quit the wrestling team. He then solemnly pronounces: "Quitters, quit!"
Our family has incorporated that two-word power punch into our lexicon because it's the comical antithesis of what my husband calls "the most important academic subject--work." Jim grew up working on his dad's Arizona cotton farm, studied agriculture at the University of Arizona, graduated and went to work as a farmer. Every day of every week of every year, he does the same work. He's on our turf farm 10 or more hours a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year, growing a crop that will beautify the arid desert landscape. One of the most important things he's taught our nine children is to work.
To work? Yes, we must learn to work. Typical of the enemy's deceit is the lie that work is a curse, but that's just not true. According to Genesis 2:15, God put Adam in the garden to cultivate and keep it--or to farm it. God taught Adam to work for his (Adam's) own benefit, no curse involved. Only after Adam and Eve sinned did work fall under God's judgment. All of a sudden, cultivating and keeping the garden became more difficult. But in light of the cross, our work becomes a reflection of the redemptive grace of Christ. And as believers, it's imperative that truth motivate our efforts in the cultural sphere of work.
In The Biblical Perspective of Work, Crown Financial Ministries points out that the average American spends 100,000 hours working during five decades. Unfortunately, dissatisfaction is part of the reality of work. American workers change jobs every three to four years, a statistic that proves the average employee isn't content with his or her job. Quitters really do quit.
To find satisfaction in our work, and to be placed in a position where God can prosper our work, we must first understand what the Bible teaches about work, as well as the responsibilities of the employee and the employer. Our work is not merely a collection of tasks that bring in wages. Work is a means by which we can use our talents and abilities to develop godly character, communicate the gospel, and worship the Lord.
In a "Biblical View of Work," an article written by C12 Group, a coalition of Christian CEOs, Christian workers are reminded that our time at work must be intertwined with our primary calling as Christians to share the hope that we have in Christ and make disciples (Matthew 28, Mark 24, and 1 Peter 3). We also must steward God's provision as excellent leaders and managers, reflecting the heart of Christ to serve and benefit others. (Matthew 5, Luke 16, 19, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 2)
This is a tall order, but God never asks us to do something for His glory without preparing us first. Whether our work involves flipping burgers to pay for college expenses, on-campus secretarial work in trade for books, business or engineering internships, clinicals, student teaching or that first "real" job after college commencement, the most important question to ask every day is, "for whom do I work?" If the answer is anything or anyone other than Christ Jesus, re-examine your understanding of the biblical view of work. Then add this wise word to your lexicon--work is a gift from God. That's the antidote to quitting.