What does work mean to you? Growing up on a farm with a strong work-ethic provided a definition of “work” that seemed to always mean “sweat”! “If you haven’t worked up a sweat you haven’t been working very hard!” Working by the “sweat of your brow” meant real physical sweat! “Hard work never hurt anyone!” Coming in from the field dirty and sweaty meant you had a really good day of work!
While my Dad had a hard time seeing a “desk job” or a “talking career” or a “driving around” task as real work, he did appreciate the “work” of the holy ministry as an important calling. Work in the church is work – important work and even “sweaty” work in non-air conditioned settings.
It is a calling that requires effort, attention to task, sometimes long hours and significant personal sacrifice. This effort, hours on task and sacrifice are done faithfully and willingly! Working up a good sweat in the field felt good at the end of the day! So does the hours writing a sermon, teaching a class, spending sacrificial time and energy with a needy person and getting home late after visiting, praying, comforting, meeting, planning and preparing. I hope that even when you are tired it is a “good tired” that comes from giving it your all!
Does this mean being a “workaholic”? I hope not! Honest work does not mean an obsession with being “busy” all the time, never taking a breather and never delegating! This approach is harmful, dangerous and often far less productive than we think!
The “sweet spot” in all of this comes when we fully understand the nature of our work and that our work is work. It is not always fun, often not easy and maybe even undesirable at times. Yet, God has called us to a ministry that is not “light” when it comes to effort! Instead we apply the gifts God has given to us as we strive to fulfill the responsibilities, opportunities and tasks of our calling. What we do each day is intentional and purposeful. When the hay is on the ground and ready to be baled the days are going to be longer and more intense. When the responsibilities, opportunities and tasks of our calling pile up we understand that some days will be longer and more intense. It always felt good to get the last bale in the barn, but not as good as kicking off my dress shoes after a day of all consuming ministry! I hope it is that way for you too!