If you want to get more productive in life, then a really important place to start is our view of work (and leisure). How we view the work we do (especially those mundane moments of our day) has a really big impact on how we craft our own habits and routines. In this episode, we are going to dive into what this looks like from a Biblical perspective. Let’s jump in!
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God’s View of Work
How do we spend our time? Where do we turn throughout the day? What does it mean to construct a life and schedule that brings glory to God?
I think one important discussion that we must have around this all: Is what is the point of work? It’s a question that we must grapple with especially in our modern society.
Past cultures didn’t really have the luxury of pondering the point of work and leisure. They worked hard for their very survival. And they rested when they needed to to make that happen. They had natural habits built into their day: They went to bed with the sun and rose with the sun. They could do a few tasks well and that was it. In some ways, I envy them: They saw the direct fruit of their labor day in and day out.
In our modern society, I think many of us can feel like we are “wasting” our day when we spend more time in the kitchen cooking or picking up around the house. We see it as somehow bad that we are spending more time preparing food. We are constantly looking for ways we can save time and cut down on things around the house because we want to do more “worthwhile” things.
We miss the point deeply that God created us for work.
Work is good and hard work can produce much fulfillment and fruitfulness in our lives. Instead of constant grumbling and complaining about the tasks that God set before us: What if we embraced them with vigor and joy? What if we took on 2021 and joyfully labored for the Lord in all that he has given us to do? What if we put our heads down and just got to work!? Keeping it all in perspective that we are laboring for the Lord…all for His Glory!
How we view work:
“Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world.”- Every Good Endeavor
When it comes to a proper view of our work, I think it’s easy to fall into one of two camps: We are lazy and not working unto the Lord OR we create work to be an idol.
Making an idol out of our work:
“The idols of modern culture have had a profound influence on the shape of our work today. In traditional societies people found their meaning and sense of value by submitting their interests and sacrificing their desires to serve higher causes like God, family, and other people. In modern societies there is often no higher cause than individual interests and desires. This shift powerfully changed the role of work in people’s lives—it now became the way we defined ourselves. Traditional cultures tended to see people’s place on the social ladder as assigned by nature or convention, each family having its “proper place.” That view had put too little stock in the role of individual talent, ambition, and hard work for determining the outcome of one’s life. But modern society responded by putting too much stock in the autonomous person.”
― Timothy Keller,
Work Before the Fall
I think we often think of work as being a result of the Fall. But in fact, we see work as part of God’s perfect plan.
“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:17-19
But prior to that, we see work as being something that God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden. In paradise, God gave humans good work to do. Fulfilling work to do as part of their work for the Lord: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” – Genesis 2:15
Working Unto the Lord
When we think of heaven and our eternal state…most of us probably picture leisure time. But I think it will actually contain good and fulfilling work like we saw in the Garden.
“Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavours, even the best, will come to naught. Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”
― Timothy Keller,
So we see that working hard for the Lord is a pattern. It started in the Garden and it is good. The point of our life is not to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and as much leisure time as we possibly can. The point of a life well lived is to joyfully labor for the Lord.
Having this perspective helps us when the days are long, the times are hard, and our work is exhausting. But having a grumbling mindset can make it ALL a lot harder. I look back on past generations, like when reading biographies, and I can see how hard they worked and how much harder their life was. But they were so seldom complainers. They don’t think to whine and complain about everything in their life: No, they put their head down and got to work.
I think we could do well to learn from this. Let’s focus more on the abundant blessings that God does give and when times are hard, let’s have the correct perspective to know that God is working in and through us. And even more so in mundane seasons. So often our work within the home and our families can feel so mundane. So pointless.
Why do we do all these chores on repeat? What’s the point of pouring more effort and time into learning how to cook more nutritious meals? What’s the point of this hard work anyway? Especially because our culture doesn’t value these things.
The point is that we can find true joy through hard work for the Lord. What has he called you to today?
For my life right now: It’s a lot of physical tasks. We have 6 kids, 8 and under and that takes a lot of work. A lot of cleaning A lot of cooking. A LOT of laundry. A lot (okay all) of my time and energy.
I also am a very passionate person. I have so many books I want to write. So many business ideas that spring from my brain every second of the day. And sometimes I think about my pre-kids life and how much I could accomplish if I was in that season again. Of course I wouldn’t change anything with my kids. But it’s sometimes easy to want everything. I want my 6 kids and all blessing but none of the work. I have other things I want to focus on sometimes rather than cooking and cleaning.
But these amazing blessings of 6 kids comes with lots of hard work. And that’s not a bad thing. I want to be characterized by someone filled with joy. I want to joyfully labor day in and day out for what God has for me today.
God’s View of Leisure
The next important piece in this discussion then is down time or leisure time. Are we to run ourselves into the ground by working 24/7 without rest?
Jesus in Scripture models to us what rest looks like. Read through the Gospels with this in mind and you’ll see Jesus withdrawing by himself to pray. You see him reclining at table to feast and talk.
With my productivity mindset, I see the roughly 3 years that Jesus had an earthly ministry and it makes me frantic. Surely he should just work around the click for those 3 years. Even if it exhausts him, he only has 3 years to get so much done. Why is he taking time repeatedly away to pray, he will be with God full time soon. Why do we see him reclining around the table so often? Why was his first miracle turning water into wine at a wedding, surely there were more important things to be done in his ministry than these things?
But what Jesus is modeling to us is: that God has given us the exact right amount of time on earth to accomplish what he wants us to do. He’s given each of us our own unique ministries and families. He knows every second we have left and has given us enough time and tools to accomplish it.
He also has set in natural limitations for us. He tells us to take an entire day off each week to rest, recharge, and worship him. He makes it so we spend roughly 1/3 of our entire life SLEEPING. We have to recharge with rest and food. We can’t just constantly go.
And so in this, we recognize that we CAN rest. We CAN take time. We CAN build those patterns into our life and TRUST that He will take care of the rest. We don’t labor day in and day out because we will achieve things in this life. We labor for the lord and HE will achieve his goals in and through us.
So yes, there is time for deliberate rest. Let’s work towards taking an actual Sabbath that is focused on Him. Let’s make the time and space for rest and reading God’s Word. Let’s make sure we are building in traditions and feasting with our families.
Let’s trust Him that when we make these things a priority, he will bless them and make our time multiply in other areas.
How should we fill our time?
So how should we spend our time? I think this starts with a very serious discussion and time of prayer about our priorities.
What are your priorities? God, Family, then work. So start building that right into a daily to do list.
How is your time with the Lord? This is probably where you need to start. Start off with 10 minutes dedicated to the Lord each day: A few minutes of reading Scripture and praying. Then up that into 25-30 minutes. Build in more restful Sundays.
Then look to your family: What needs to change, what new habits need to be built, etc.
Let’s keep the purpose of work in focus and then we can also intentionally build our down time around this same cause. In the end, this gives us a lot more fulfillment and joy in our work and then also our down time.
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