At work when you speak or act in faith, do you feel like a voice in the wilderness?
Have you built God’s plan into your work?
Is your formula, for work purpose, God’s formula?
God makes a purposeful declaration in Jeremiah 29:11 . . . “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God repeatedly uses the word “plans.” Plans for you. Plans to prosper you, including your work.
Building God’s Plans into Our Work
Our work purpose belongs to God. Ultimately, our work isn’t about us. It’s about Him. For the workplace Christian, loving Mondays is about loving God enough to surrender ourwork plans for His work plans.
This is not easy to do. We work in a world that focuses on the self: self preservation, self development, self advancement and self fulfillment. All these things can be good, but they’re incomplete. We quickly come to the end of ourselves, the end of our capabilities. Also, we’re a fallen people; we consistently fall short in serving others as we serve ourselves.
The World’s Formula for Work Purpose
Like us, the world’s formula for work purpose is incomplete. We can consider the world’s formula for work purpose to be Passion + Performance + Profitability = Worldly Purpose.
Passion—work we love. This is a good thing, as long as the passions we hold are in line with God’s passions. But what happens when our passions are misdirected? In an extreme example, what happens if we’re a dictator, passionate about persecuting people on the basis of faith? Passion is necessary for fully purposeful work, but it’s not sufficient.
Performance—doing well at the work we do. Once again, this is a good thing when we’re working hard at things that God smiles upon. God has given each of us gifts – skills – to use at work. But misdirected, extreme examples can include the promotion of pornography, the abuse of children and the deception of shareholders. Performance is necessary for fully purposeful work, but it’s not sufficient.
Profitability—doing work that can support us financially. God has plans to prosper us. He desires us to meet all our financial needs, but not necessarily all our financial wants. What happens when wealth becomes our ultimate goal? Profitability is necessary for fully purposeful work, but it’s not sufficient.
When all we do is follow the formula of the world, all we have is a worldly purpose that easily leaves God out of the equation.
God’s Formula for Work Purpose
God’s formula for work purpose takes the best of passion, performance, and profitability and replaces the rest with elements far more significant and enduring: Perception +Perseverance + Perspective = Godly Purpose.
I believe a way to illustrate God’s formula is to explore the life of the apostle Paul. Paul is a towering figure in the New Testament and an icon of fully purposeful work.
Paul perceived the need to transcend his own passions to take ownership of God’s passions. Paul’s work life also shows us that perception alone isn’t enough. We can perceive what needs to be done, and still fail to do it.
Paul persevered in coupling his vast knowledge of Old Testament Scripture to the requirements of emerging Christian doctrine. He persevered through rejection by his family, the outrage of the Jewish leadership, the initial skepticism of Jesus’ disciples, and more.
But through it all Paul kept God’s perspective, the third element in God’s formula for work purpose. Paul recognized that God’s economy transcends our own. He earned the financial resources he needed to support himself—tent making one day and preaching the next. But Paul was never distracted by material concerns. He understood that the prosperity of Jeremiah 29:11 is far deeper than profitability.
Godly Purpose: Finding the “Sweet Spot”
At work, you may well feel like the lone voice in the wilderness. Your colleagues and associates might not believe in the same work formula that you do. The world’s formula for finding work purpose is to find the “sweet spot” where passion, performance and profitability come together.
It is God’s purpose to find where perception, perseverance and perspective come together.