By Jeremy Robertson
June 27, 2024

Is work an obligation or opportunity?

Is your work just a duty, or do you find purpose in it? Discover how to integrate faith and vocation.

I do the dishes because I must. I feel no sense of joy or fulfillment. It’s a task that must be done. I do the laundry because I must—knowing full well that the hamper will quickly return to an overflowing state, necessitating a return to the laundering process. I clean the bathroom because…well, you get the picture. We do some things because they must be done, not because we receive joy or fulfillment from them.

Is that your relationship with work? Do you punch the clock to make the money to continue living – fulfilling your obligation without experiencing purpose or meaning?

Followers of Jesus are invited into a larger sense of purpose when it comes to vocation. A deeper dive into recovering a sense of vocation can be found in 2024’s January article. Scripture begins with a depiction of God as a worker. He crafts and creates. He gets His hands dirty. Then God invites His image-bearing creation, humans, to share in His work. They are in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). God’s perfect creation, undistorted by sin, has humans as workers and caretakers. It makes one wonder if there will also be work to do in heaven.

“Work is the natural exercise and function of (humans) – the creature who is made in the image of his Creator.” – Dorothy Sayers

Because God works, we work. It’s part of His design for His people. When we work and care for God’s creation through our vocation, God is honored. Our work, our vocation, cannot be solely an obligation. It mustn’t be divorced from our God-given task of caring for His creation.

“How do I know if my faith and work are integrated?”

Barna Research recently conducted a study on vocation. They asked Christian employees to respond to the following statements:

  1. “I can clearly see how the work that I am doing is serving God or a higher purpose.”
  2. “I am looking to make a difference in the world.”
  3. “I find purpose and meaning in the work I do.”
  4. “As a Christian, I believe it is important to help mold the culture of my workplace.”

Pause a moment. Reread these questions and answer them for yourself. The responses from the study yielded three distinct groups: Integrators, Onlookers, and Compartmentalizers.

Integrators are Christians who strongly agree with the previous statements. They are enthusiastic employees who are deeply connected to their faith and work. 28% of the Christian workforce can be identified as Integrators.

Onlookers moderately resonated with the previous statements. They have a passive mindset as it pertains to connecting faith and work. They are positioned to grow in their integration of faith and work, but they have not taken steps to do so. Onlookers make up 38% of the Christian workforce.

Compartmentalizers expressed a low level of agreement with the previous statements. These employees are pragmatic and lack strong connections to their faith or work. 34% of Christian workers are classified as Compartmentalizers.

Which profile best describes you? Are you satisfied with your answer?

The obvious preference is that all Christians be classified as Integrators, exhibiting a deep connection between their faith and their work. Next month, we’ll profile the Integrator to better understand how an employee can connect their faith and work.  

God’s original design for His image-bearing creations, humans, is for them to work. Work is not to be resented or tolerated. Work is not punching the clock. Work is not a duty completed out of obligation. For the Christian, work is an opportunity to live as God designed us – caretakers of His good creation.

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About Jeremy Robertson

Jeremy Robertson has served as a Minister at the Edmond Church of Christ since 2010. After 13 years of Youth Ministry, he transitioned to Family Life Ministry in 2013. He graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in Ministry/Bible and later earned a master’s degree in Family Life Ministry from OC. In his role, Jeremy leads ministry and outreach efforts for marriage enrichment, young adults, men’s and women’s ministry, and other family life contexts. He and his wife Ashley have two sons.