08 Feb Work, Vocation, and Calling: How to Live a Fruitful Life
Many of us were told that if we go to our jobs and work really hard every day, we would retire as content and happy individuals. Our young people are still told that the end goal of college is to get a good job. While there are grains of truth in both of these philosophies, neither of them satisfies. We have largely been preaching a false gospel when it comes to work, vocation, and purpose.
Jesus instructs that we can know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). The fruits of the cultural philosophies regarding work are:
- Retirees who grapple with feelings of uselessness now that their jobs or families aren’t occupying their schedules.
- People who don’t know what to do with the wealth they’ve acquired.
- Middle-aged adults stuck in jobs that aren’t bringing them life.
- Post-grad students that feel like they’ve failed if they can’t find THE job that makes them feel whole and saves them from drowning in debt.
- A stressed-out generation of college students that feel the tremendous weight over picking a major and getting good grades.
I don’t know where or if you fit into any of these categories. A large part of Becky and I’s motivation for starting WealthBuilders was to address the hurt we saw from people trapped in jobs they disliked or unsure of their purpose once they got out of them. Once I replaced my income through real estate and was able to quit my job, I spent some time to leisure around and play golf. After a while (and a much-needed push from Becky), I realized that doing nothing just wasn’t enough. WealthBuilders and Tricord Global formed shortly after I surrendered my free time and finances to God. We are so abundantly blessed and live much richer lives now because of the fruit of that sacrifice.
Wealth is just a tool, but it’s a tool that provides choices. Once you’ve learned how to build wealth, you acquire the freedom to choose how you want to spend your time and energies working. But, as you have probably found, it’s not that easy.
As Christians, we have the Spirit of God living inside us (Romans 8:10-11). Yet, for the time being, we live in a fallen world. When it comes to working, we find ourselves somewhere in between Genesis 1 and 3. Let’s take a look:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)
By this, we know we were created to be co-laborers with God in the creation process. We have dominion— a responsibility to steward— the whole earth. However, part of that responsibility was tainted when Adam and Eve sinned.
“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.” (Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)
Whether or not you’re a farmer, I’m sure that you have had some challenges when it comes to working. Work often has a connotation of being unsavory or burdensome. Ever since sin entered the world, humans have had tension with work in the spiritual realm. The enemy knows that if we were to truly partner with God to build his purposes in the earth, the gospel would spread fast.
The false beliefs we have about work can be mended by coming to understand the meaning of vocation. Vocation and calling are both words that were posed by Christian reformers as a way to live a holistic life in total response to God. According to the Denver Institute of Faith and Work, the concept of a vocation slowly become divorced from the idea of God as culture became increasingly secularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over time, the term referred more commonly to manual labor and secular education.
We have to shift our thinking about work. Work, as God designed it, transcends a specific job or season of our life. It’s not a means to an end— it’s a way of living in daily submission to Him and stewarding whatever resources we have for the Kingdom. You can do this if you’re stuck as a day laborer with dreams to be the President. You can do this if you’re 90 and never want to work (in a traditional sense) again.
Ephesians 2:10 is profound. It says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (NIV).”
Purpose is not something to chase.
It’s in your DNA.
If you’re interested in learning more about the relationship between faith and work, as well as how to build wealth as a way to make a difference, I invite you to listen to my new podcast! Click HERE to explore.