(Note: This article is a repost from the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University.)
Do you ever ask yourself, Am I wasting time on temporal pursuits? Should I spend more time on what really matters to God?
In Genesis 1, God gave mankind a commission that has come to be known as the Cultural Mandate.
Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. —Genesis 1:28
The Hebrew term translated “fill the earth” in Genesis 1:28 means “bring to full flower,” to develop the potential of earth’s resources to the fullest.
As Creator, God could have placed Adam and Eve in the midst of a highly developed world with roads, bridges, buildings, technology, and everything needed for modern life as we know it. Instead, He gave us the earth and all its resources, and appointed us stewards, developers, and co-creators with Himself.
When we work to meet legitimate human needs, we are working for God and God is working through us, whether we realize it or not. We have a God-given purpose to steward His creation and contribute to human flourishing. Think of it like this:
- An administrative assistant is not simply a schedule manager and meeting arranger. This individual is a reflector of God’s orderly character and contributor to the smooth functioning of business.
- A loan processor is not simply a paper pusher. This person is a shelter provider and dream fulfiller, creating places where families can blossom.
- A sanitation worker is not simply a trash collector. This person is a vital contributor to the community’s physical welfare and ability to flourish.
The apostle Paul reminded Christians in Colossae that all work is God’s work: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23, italics added).
Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or his mind, in the world of art, and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be,constantly standing before the face of his God, he is employed in the service of his God, he has strictly to obey his God, and above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God. —Abraham Kuyper
Whatever includes an expansive spectrum of activities. To help us understand, Martin Luther suggested we consider just how many types of workers God uses to provide the breakfast we thank Him for each morning.
In the twenty-first century, we have to include a host of workers: farmers, farm workers, truck drivers, bakers, dairy workers, supermarket owners, stockers, shoppers, and cooks. However, we must not forget the engineers and construction workers who built the roads, and the bankers who provided capital to the farmers, bakers, and truckers. Also, what about the attorneys, politicians, and public servants who protect our ability to do business and make it possible for us cooperate with each other?
When we meet legitimate human needs, we are working for God as much as a pastor, missionary, or evangelist.
Bill Peel is the Founding Executive Director of The Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University created to help Christians understand their work’s importance to God and experience Christ’s transforming presence and power in every workplace in every nation. For more than 25 years, Bill has coached thousands of men and women to discover their calling, grasp their significance to God’s kingdom, and become a spiritual influence in their workplace.