Don’t Waste Your Work: A Message to College Graduates

Congratulations on reaching this exciting milestone—you’ve graduated from college! Whether you are seeking a career in business, education, finance, healthcare, graphic design, law, computer services, or elsewhere this summer represents a new chapter of your life. You’re a full-fledged adult professional, untethered from your parents’ and professors’ oversight, and learning to make your way in life.

You will face various challenges and opportunities that will test your mettle and challenge your faith. You’ll test your value in the marketplace, learn to pull your weight in the workplace and navigate through office social dynamics. Regardless, if your heart is open to God and you put the right mindset and habits in place, you will experience a victorious year.

Therefore, I encourage you to view your workplace opportunity as a divine calling. That’s right—your workplace calling is just as significant to God as my calling as a pastor. In God’s world, there is no hierarchy of vocations. Businessmen, athletes, or creative types have just as honorable a workplace calling as pastors and missionaries.

Yet, you might wonder what I mean when I say your secular job is a divine calling. You know that it’s a way to pay the bills and a place where you will meet unbelievers who need Jesus. But perhaps you hadn’t considered the work you’d be doing as something God values. So, let’s take a few minutes to explore how you can approach your workplace in a way that honors God.

In God’s world, there is no hierarchy of vocations. Businessmen, athletes, or creative types have just as honorable a workplace calling as pastors and missionaries.

The Purpose of Work

For starters, you’ll need to understand the purpose of work in God’s world. Scripture and history reveal that God himself is a worker; in the past, he worked to create the world. In the present, he works to sustain the world. In the future, he—through his Son—will work to rid the world of sin and establish an everlasting reign of justice and peace.

The question of how to honor God in the workplace relates to all three truths—God’s past, present, and future work. Yet, it should be noted that God does most of his present (sustaining) work through human labor.

Consider that when God feeds people, he does so through farmers and grocers. When he takes care of their transportation needs, he does so through workers in the auto and service industries. When he guides people toward maturity, he does so not only through pastors but through teachers, counselors, and other workplace professionals.

So, our work matters—to God and to our neighbors. Unless our workplace activity is illegal or unethical, our work participation is part of the way God provides for the world. That is why Scripture warns against laziness: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

In other words, God and man are in a cooperative partnership. We are his junior partners. This is part of what the Psalmist means when he says, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Ps. 90:17). In this vein, John Stott writes, “This concept of divine-human collaboration applies to all honorable work. God has so ordered life on earth as to depend on us…. So whatever our work, we need to see it as being…cooperation with God….It is this that glorifies him.” Thus, our work is of great significance.

And if our workplace calling is so significant, another question arises: what type of work should we choose to do?


Finding our Workplace Calling

When we survey the world around us, we realize that God created it so that we can choose from a wide variety of work opportunities. Thus, when Christians face the question of which career or job to choose, they often have a buffet of options. In fact, many people change jobs and even careers several times in life.

The critical point to note is that God creates each of us uniquely in his image while we are still in the womb (Jer. 1:5; Isa. 49:1; Ps. 139:13). He provides each of us with personalities, talents, and desires. In other words, most people have options when it comes to choosing a job.

And, although we might find it challenging to choose the right career or job, God provides help in the form of other people. The people surrounding us—family members, bosses, colleagues, and others—can help us discern our calling. When we are young, our parents might point out certain aptitudes we have as a way of suggesting a particular line of work. When we are older, our bosses might provide guidance through our job performance reviews. Similarly, our friends and peers might offer leads to job openings that match our skills and interests. So, God works through people to confirm the details of our workplace calling.


Fulfilling our Workplace Calling

Once we find ourselves in a given workplace, we realize we can do the same work either with or without significance. In other words, God’s purposes in giving us jobs extend far beyond the benefits of receiving a paycheck. He calls us to do our work with purpose, to glorify him, and to help others while working.

Thus, a Christian will benefit from asking three questions about his or her given career or job: What is God’s design for this type of job? How has sin and idolatry corrupted or misdirected it? How can I approach my workplace in a way that conforms to God’s design, thus glorifying him, and avoids any sinful temptation that arises in the course of my work?

For example, a person in the restaurant business might conclude that God’s design is for her to offer nutritious and tasty food at a reasonable price and to treat her employees with respect and dignity. Recognizing the sometimes cutthroat nature of the restaurant industry, she is careful with scheduling so that workers can have essential days and times to be with their families. She sympathizes with the homeless people in her community, offering leftover dishes to those in need. In so doing, she answers the three questions in a faithfully Christian manner.


A Final Word

In conclusion, as Christian graduates embarking on a new chapter of professional life, remember that your work is not merely a means to an end but a divine calling that holds great significance in God’s plan. Your career, chosen with thoughtful consideration of your unique gifts and God’s guidance, is a field ripe for the demonstration of faith, diligence, and purpose.

Approach your work with the mindset that you are collaborating with God, contributing to his work in the world, and honoring him in every task, interaction, and decision. Let your work be a reflection of God’s love and excellence, serving others and glorifying him beyond the confines of traditional ministry.

And amidst the demands of professional life, don’t forget the holy rhythm of rest and leisure that God himself modeled. By integrating work, worship, and rest, you’ll not only achieve success in your career but will live out a deeply fulfilling, purpose-driven life that makes an eternal difference.


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