~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
One of my favorite books in recent years is Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller, a Presbyterian Pastor in New York City. This book connects our work to God’s plan for the world and shows why our work matters.
At one point Keller quotes another author, Lester Dekoster, in a passage that I believe reminds us to be thankful for all things, even the work we are called to do.
Work is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others… in which others make themselves useful to us. We plant [with our work]; God give the increase to unify the human race….
[Look at] the chair you are lounging in. . . . Could you have made it for yourself? . . . How [would you] get, say, the wood? Go and fell a tree? But only after first making the tools for that, and putting together some kind of vehicle to haul the wood, and constructing a mill to do the lumber and roads to drive on from place to place? In short, a lifetime or two to make one chair! . . . If we . . . worked not forty but one-hundred-forty hours per week we couldn’t make ourselves from scratch even a fraction of all the goods and services that we call our own. [Our] paycheck turns out to buy us the use of far more than we could possibly make for ourselves in the time it takes us to earn the check. . . . Work . . . yields far more in return upon our efforts than our particular jobs put in. . . .
Imagine that everyone quits working, right now! What happens? Civilized life quickly melts away. Food vanishes from the shelves, gas dries up at the pump, streets are no longer patrolled, and fires burn themselves out. Communication and transportation services end, utilities go dead. Those who survive at all are soon huddled around campfires, sleeping in caves, clothed in raw animal hides. The difference between a wilderness and culture is simply, work.
Tim Keller adds at the end of this section:
There may be no better way to love your neighbor, whether you are writing parking tickets, software, or books, than to simply do your work. But only skillful, competent work will do.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday let us give thanks to God for all things from the small to the big. And for the work of those who helped to create them and bring them into our lives. And let us be thankful also for the opportunity to do the work that we do, that we are blessed to be a part of God’s ongoing plan of creating, cultivating, and subduing the often chaotic world.
And, work is not restricted just to an occupation, something that leads to a paycheck. As you prepare the Thanksgiving meal, whether turkey or potatoes or pies, know that you too are fulfilling God’s call to produce, and create. You are blessing others with the work of your hands, the basting of a brush, the slicing of a knife, and the stirring of a spoon. So, let this work too be done with skill and with joy, for it is the fulfillment of God’s call upon our lives. And others, will thank you.