30 Dec #049 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Kingdom—Lessons from Creation—Work Is Necessary
ESSENCE: For a leader to lead an organization to faithfully “do right”, they must look to Creation to understand the necessity of work to God’s plan for His creation. The world was actually created to need our creativity and productivity in order to flourish. A BIGGER GOSPEL reveals that creation needs human work to unleash its potential (and keep it from becoming overgrown with “weeds”) and flourish, and humans need work to reveal their potential and flourish.
We are exploring the idea of a BIGGER GOSPEL (four parts instead of just two)–one that starts with Creation and goes all the way to God’s restoration plan for His Kingdom on earth (with the Fall and Redemption through Jesus sandwiched in the middle), and we started digging into Creation with the assertion that it is impossible to understand God’s purpose for work or business without looking at Genesis! Our last posts were about Why Are We Here (the Creation Mandate), Who Are We (Imago Dei) and Work is Good (created pre-Fall), but we also need Genesis to understand that WORK IS NECESSARY.
Lessons from Creation: Work Is Necessary
If you ask the average person, whether or not Biblically-literate, whether “work” is necessary, the answer is almost certainly going to be “YES”. But they probably mean “necessary” in the sense of:
- A “necessary” evil
- “Necessary” to pay the mortgage
- “Necessary” to put food on the table
- “Necessary” to avoid getting fired
- “Necessary” until I win Powerball
If you ask the average Biblically-literate person whether God created Eden to need our “work”, there is a good chance the answer will be “NO”. Some people will reach that conclusion because they mistakenly believe work is a curse that was imposed on humans because of the Fall (as we explained in Post #48). Others who understand that “work” is good may not realize the genius in God’s creation–it is perfect in its imperfection.
God’s Creation Was Designed To Need Our Work. Could God have created a world that didn’t need us to do anything but pick fruit and eat it? Of course. (If He did, he might have declared about His creation “it is perfect” rather than “it is very good”.) But Genesis shows us that God’s creation needs our work in order to flourish and we need our work in order to flourish as humans. Amazingly, Genesis 2:5 tells us:
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground.
Nothing was growing because God had not yet created humans to “work the ground”. The world was actually created to need our creativity and productivity in order to flourish. As we have in past posts, we can look to Tim Keller in his book Every Good Endeavor for theological insight. Keller ties this back to the Creation Mandate we explored in Post #046:
In Genesis chapter 1, verse 28 he tells human beings to “fill the earth and subdue it.” The word “subdue” indicates that, though all God had made was good, it was still to a great degree undeveloped. God left creation with deep untapped potential for cultivation that people were to unlock through their labor. 27 In Genesis chapter 2, verse 15 (ESV) he puts human beings into the garden to “work it and keep it.” The implication is that, while God works for us as our Provider, we also work for him. Indeed, he works through us.
In Post #048, we explained why work is good and why humans also need work to flourish. Again, Keller’s Every Good Endeavor offers theological insight:
Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul. Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness. People who are cut off from work because of physical or other reasons quickly discover how much they need work to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually. . . . The loss of work is deeply disturbing because we were designed for it. This realization injects a deeper and far more positive meaning into the common view that people work in order to survive. According to the Bible, we don’t merely need the money from work to survive; we need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground. (Genesis 2:5)
CREATION needs human work to unleash its potential (and keep it from becoming overgrown with “weeds”) and flourish, and WE need work to reveal our potential and flourish.
Work is where we spend most of our waking hours, and it has moved far from its original design in Genesis as something good and necessary–not just “to pay the bills”. At Integrous, we think that is “dehumanizing”. We believe it is time for “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®. But a leader can’t lead an organization to faithfully “do right” without understanding and embracing a BIGGER GOSPEL with a full understanding of the necessity of work in God’s design of His creation.
SPOILER ALERT: When we look at the Generosity Priority of Love, we will explain why “work” is not just what we were made to do, it is also the vehicle through which we live out our even BIGGER purpose.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I was astonished when I first understood the implications of Genesis 2:5, and it was certainly not when I was reading Genesis for the first time (or the second, or third . . .). The idea that God’s paradise was intentionally not perfected–that the Garden needed humans in order to grow–brought a deeper level of appreciation to the beauty of God’s design and His love for His children. He went from a father who hands a child a gift to a father who invites a child to work alongside him, carefully, ingeniously and lovingly creating opportunities for the child to contribute to the end product and find fulfillment and meaning in the process. That is a God I want to serve and glorify with my work. That is a God who inspires the Integrous mission to “humanize people, beautify the world and glorify God by encouraging and assisting leaders and organizations to do the same through Integriosity”.