Serving the work

By Dave Henning / May 11, 2013

The desert, transition period following our ministry downsizing or position loss provides ample opportunity for reflection on our vocation.  Through honest assessment we position ourselves to revision and revitalize our calling.

In Chapter 6 (“Work Becomes Pointless”) of Every Good Endeavor Pastor Timothy Keller states that the writer of Ecclesiastes presents 3 ways people attempt to discover a meaningful life “under the sun”: (1) through learning and wisdom; (2) through the pursuit of pleasure; and (3) through hard work.

We all desire to make an impact through our work.  On a personal level, each of us needs to work out how our chosen vocation serves the world.  In her famous essay “Why “Work?”, Dorothy Sayers distinguishes between serving people and serving the work.  Whereas serving the community has the potential to turn our gaze inward as we look for applause or reward, when you serve the work ”  . . . you know you have nothing to look for; the only reward the work can give you is the satisfaction of beholding the perfection.  The work takes all and gives nothing but itself; and to serve the work is a labor of love.”

Pastor Keller observes that Sayers’s point is well-taken and then interprets it within a specifically Christian context:

“But if you do your work so well that by God’s grace it helps others who can never thank you, or it helps those who come after you to do it better, then you know you are ‘serving the work’ and truly loving your neighbor.”

Does Pastor Keller’s statement on “serving the work” give you pause with respect to your current position or helpful guidance in your search for new avenues to God’s calling?  Please share your thoughts below.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Contemporary  idolatry”

About the author

Dave Henning

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