I was a pastor for a little over eight years. I loved that job; it was a tremendous opportunity to earn a living literally doing the Lord’s work. I often referred to my pastor job as a fake job, though. I did actual work and put in my hours, but it definitely wasn’t like a real 9 to 5 job.
On any given day of being a pastor I would make trips to Costco, have coffee with students or roll into the office at 11:00 in the morning. All of those made sense for the job because being a youth pastor isn’t really a clock in/clock out kind of job. That flexibility, though, had its pros and its cons. The pros were that I could sleep in most days, go to the gym and still get a full day’s work in. The cons were that I got home at 10:00 three nights a week and didn’t have much energy left for anything else.
So now I’ve left my beloved pastor job and have entered back into the 9 to 5 world. It’s only been a few days but it has been enjoyable. I’m back working for the IT company I worked for while I was in seminary. The first time I worked for this company I couldn’t wait to quit and start working as a pastor. Now I’m grateful for my 9 to 5 job and that when I finish at the end of the day I’m finished; I don’t take anything home with me.
I’m sure at some point, though, I’ll have a bad day and wish that I could make a random trip to Costco or take a two-hour lunch and call it work. Whatever work we do, whether 9 to 5 or something more flexible, we need to find a way to enjoy it and make the most of it.
We tend to think that having to work was a result of the Fall, but work was always part of God’s intention for creation. When God created Adam he placed him in the Garden to tend the Garden and name the animals. Work gave Adam purpose and something to do; he partnered with God in caring for the creation. It’s true that the Fall caused some more hardship in Adam’s work, but work itself is good, something that should be embraced.
In Colossians Paul tells us that in whatever work we do, we should do it as if we were doing it for the Lord. Now that was really easy for me when I worked at a church, because my work had a direct connection to God’s work in this world. However, now when I’m helping clients with their computers or organizing patch cables, I still need to have the same focus. Updating someone’s antivirus software isn’t going to expand God’s kingdom in any noticeable way, but how I carry myself and treat clients could. Before I could see how my work and attitude made a difference for God’s kingdom; now I just have to trust that God will do something with my work as long as I maintain the right attitude.
It’s easy to view work as something that potentially gets in the way of what God has called us to do. I know I thought that during my first stint as a computer consultant. Now that I’m back working a 9 to 5 after spending eight years as a pastor, though, I want to have a better attitude. I want to see my work, whatever it is, as an opportunity to serve God and honor him.
How do you view work in light of Genesis 2 and Colossians 3:23?