Commissioned for Work | Joseph Chang
Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.
I grew up being told by people (who were miserable at their jobs), "just do something you love." I think a lot of us interpret this kind of advice to mean that our career, occupation, job (whatever we want to call it) has the ability to satisfy us and provide us with an identity. We also want our work to positively impact the world (even if we don't know what that means, exactly). Further, we're taught that there should always be a separation between church and state, or in this case, professional life. Somehow no-one tells you to bring faith into dialogue with work: the silence says a lot. In sum, we are always seeking for work to "work for us."
Through the Theology of Work course, I've learned that work, even the insignificant and mundane aspects of our work, is significant to God. In our work, we are being called to co-create with Christ in establishing His kingdom right where we are, for example in our broken work environments. Even if we don't have our ideal, fulfilling "career job" in hand (I struggle with this a lot, I mean, I studied engineering and I feel like my mind is wasted in doing mostly manual labor in my lab), God still calls me to be an ambassador of Christ in all situations and, oddly, through heeding this call I end up participating in that world impacting work we all desire.
My struggle with not having my "career job" has shown me that God is not most pleased with me when I finally land that job which gives me an identity. Instead, in the Gospel, He has given me a higher identity as His son and in this identify I find my way in following Jesus.
For me, giving my work to the rule of Jesus means that I need to image Jesus in seeing others, including my co-workers, as fellow humans, as creations-in-the-image-of-God. In the current climate of my lab, that means taking a priestly role in interceding and mediating between people with years of bitterness toxifying their interactions and restoring those who've been persistently devalued.
I've been told to always cultivate professional relationships into a network, and while I don't mean to downplay networking, in this calling as a son of God I've received a challenge to go beyond seeking my own good out of relationships. I am learning to not just help co-workers because, eventually, their work will become my work, but to genuinely support them as a friend so they can find rest, feel cared for as a human being, and have a voice.
People ask, "Do you find joy in what you do at work?" For a long while my response was no. But over time, as I began to understand my partnership with God in His redemptive story, I've come to see what I do at work differently. In accepting God's call for my current work, I can look upon the relationships I've developed at work over the past five years and find reason to rejoice because some of my co-workers are interested in a Gospel that puts our faith into actions. And I can rejoice because God has shown me the value and goodness of being a trustworthy friend, wherever my work takes me.
I don't have it all together, but just as baptism is an outward sign and seal of God undertaking an internal change, denoting a beginning of the Christian life, being commissioned to work is a beginning of further accountability and transformation in walking with Jesus where once I did not know he had a role to play and life to give.