December 8, 2022
This thought floated into my consciousness on my morning run. I looked over and watched him mow the hillside in the park. I felt the Father's pleasure over it, He created this thing we call "work," and He loves it.
It seems like everywhere we turn someone is short staffed. "The Great Resignation" continues as so many seemed to have abandoned the workforce. There are a variety of factors for this recent phenomenon, some good, some bad. My point is not to get political on the causes of the issue, but to invite you to look at the beliefs you have about work, and to consider an alternate worldview.
As the Pandemic began to lighten up, many stores began to open up locally, but many of the staff weren’t returning. The Frisch's restaurant in our community permanently closed. The story goes that none of the employees wanted to return, because they were making more from unemployment than they were from working. Many of us have heard or experienced similar stories. Who knows how these stories get twisted, but the reality is that for many, work has become un-incentivized.
We will only choose the benefits of unemployment over actual work if we believe that we work in order to get what we need. We might reason, "unemployment benefits are providing what I need, so now, work has no value in my life." The underlying belief is that we work in order to provide. When this is what we believe, our work is based entirely on fear.
We believe we are all on our own, but if there's a loophole, we should take advantage to the fullest, because we're finally catching a break from this ruthless world of lack.
Jesus proposes a different way to view the world. In fully hippy fashion, he stands on a hillside and proclaims, "Just look at the birds and the flowers, man. They don't stress about their next meal, and your heavenly Father takes care of them. If the Father takes care of them, how much more will He address your needs? Seek Him out and He'll take care of you" (Matthew 6:25-34, Hippy Translation).
Jesus invites us from an orphan perspective to that of a son or daughter. You have a Father who loves you, and He happens to be the wealthiest person in existence. When you walk in awareness of and connection with your Pa, you never have to worry about provision. The issue of provision is taken out of the equation.
Awareness and connection with the Father takes the fear of provision off the table.
A couple years ago, someone asked me if I would be able to switch out his water heater. Having never done it before, I said, "Absolutely!" I had recently shifted from full time pastoral ministry to bi-vocational, because, well... because ministry is hard and I find handyman work to be therapeutic. I watched a few YouTube videos and called a friend with a truck.
We picked up a water heater, and he helped me carry it down the steps into the basement. We high-fived, and he left, having been assured that "I'll take it from here." As he pulled away, I realized my mistake. The water heater I bought was electric, and what I was replacing was gas.
My head hung in frustration at my mistake, my breathing shallowed and my internal temp rose 10 degrees as I considered the cost of my mistake. I kicked myself thinking about how my family's finances were too tight for such a costly mistake. I started to ask, "Will I even make any money on this job when all is said and done?" As if in direct response to my question, the Lord spoke to my heart. I could sense His laughter as He said, "You're not doing this to provide, that's my job. You're doing this because I made you like me, your work is an expression of who you are."
In a moment it was like the weight of a heavy water heater was lifted off of my chest. Provision was not dependent upon my ability to succeed, my Dad would take care of me. So I was freed up to solve the problem and finish the job not out of fear, but out of a heart and a mind like my Dad. If He believed in me, then I'd conquer this problem, and I wouldn't have to do it alone.
"Okay Pops, how are we going to solve this one?" I asked, as I climbed the basement steps for fresh air. Suddenly I heard 90's rock in the distance, and I pictured a young muscular guy available to give me a hand. I walked down the alley, and sure enough, all tatted up with his shirt off, young buck was detailing a truck. He helped me lift the water heater out of the basement with his pinky, and I was off for the right water heater. When I returned, he helped me carry it down, and we had a great conversation about recovery and some wicked good prayer time.
Did you know that in the story of the Creation in Genesis, work came BEFORE the Fall? Work is not a curse, it's a gift. Work is only a curse when we fall for the lie that we are abandoned and alone. Work is a space in our lives where we can meet with God, and we can learn to co-create with Him. The "Garden" was Adam and Eve's workplace, and God would meet them there.
It's not only a meeting place with God, but it's also a place where we Image God. God himself enjoys work, it's how He expresses Himself. He shows off His creativity, His genius, His beauty, His generosity, His power. Take note of anyone you see working today, they are showing you something of the nature of God. They were given that capacity, and we wouldn't see it if not for work.
There are situations and seasons where some of us legitimately benefit from unemployment benefits. But when you have an opportunity to work, take it. Even if the pay is less. You don't need to work to provide, but you were designed to find fulfillment in working, and ultimately you will get far more benefit from working than not.