Perhaps one of the most meaningful books I’ve read in my Christian journey has been The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. In a nutshell, Lawrence served as the cook for a monastery outside Paris. Rather than seeing his work like a fancy French chef on a Food Network show, this was a very menial task. But for Lawrence, it was in the mundane and seemingly unimportant work that a deep love and relationship with God could be cultivated. Lawrence had this to say about it: “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament”
Many times we think of the moments in our lives that most shape us to be conformed to the image of Christ coming through the “spiritual” activities – serving on a mission trip, praying with a cancer patient, sharing the Gospel with a lost friend and being rejected, or preparing to lead a small group Bible study. But the process of having me shaved off and Christ shining forth comes more so through the ordinary events. It comes through the process of working on tasks given by a God who’s sovereign and worthy of worship while mowing the lawn, folding towels, or fixing a broken sink. The issue is, what is my response to this work? Is it worship or bitterness?
Can I look at the leaky sink in our kitchen and be as excited for that as I am to lead a group on a mission trip? To be honest, apart from Christ, the answer is no. But then again, the crucible of sanctification comes most often through the most difficult times, and the times where it is a greater struggle to drive up the motivation or desire for a task. It’s easy to do some things, and those contribute to the sanctification process, but it’s in those more tedious tasks that we really come to see our need for grace.
Seeing work as worship transforms the what by realigning the why. Work is central to who we are, it’s part of the creation narrative that God put Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them to cultivate it. Drew Carey once talked about the support group for people who hate their job, and by and large this is our understanding of work – that it’s hard and something to avoid or look beyond. But work is inherently good, and honest work is glorious no matter what the job is. I stand amazed watching skilled people do things with wood, drywall, and electricity that I would never touch. The use of wisdom in their work is shown by how easy they can do things. And in that work, God is glorified. Work is a means of worship because it’s a response to the gifts and abilities given by God. It’s also a means of worship because it’s a way of providing for a family (even if that family is 1). It’s a means of worship because it enables the Christian to be generous with his/her money. When the why, seeing work as worship, is aligned, then the what (the actual work, punching your clock, doing your job) is made more meaningful, more significant.
Luther once wrote that the Christian faith was such that a man could work, come home and play his lute, eat his sausage, and play with his kids to the glory of God. For Luther, the Christian life was lived in the ordinary, and in that ordinary, the Christian is transformed into the image of Christ. My encouragement in this post is to view the work in your life, whether a vocation or as a student or a stay-at-home mom, as an act of worship and a way for Jesus to make you more like Him.