03 Apr Special #001 – Let’s Free Work From the “Money Box”
We were designed to work–to use our gifts of creativity and productivity–it is part of being fully human. If we are not working and earning an income, we can feel empty and insecure (this is a special post prompted by the Covid-19 crisis tagging 10,000,000 people with the label “unemployed“, which often brings with it feelings of emptiness and insecurity). Sadly, that emptiness and insecurity can be exacerbated by our culture’s very narrow view of work that conflates work with provision–something is work only if we are getting paid. We have been deceived into keeping God’s gift of work in a “money box“, and it is unnecessarily robbing us of our humanity. At Integrous, we believe that was never God’s design–it is not GOD’s box, it is OUR box!
We believe the reason that the conflation of work and provision heightens emptiness and insecurity at times of unemployment is because:
- It wrongly leads us to think we are unable to fill the emptiness void (from not working) until we find another money-paying “job”.
- It wrongly leads us to believe that a money-paying job and a worldly employer are the sources (rather than merely distribution mechanisms) of our provision.
But God did NOT define work by the receipt of monetary compensation or tie a job to his promise of provision–we did.
While most of the time God’s provision does come through monetary compensation for work (and we do not mean to downplay the anxiety or hardship felt following the loss of an income source), we believe it is time to (1) free work from the money box we created, (2) begin to re-imagine “unemployment” as “ready for redeployment“, (3) particularly at times of “ready for redeployment”, seek opportunities to remain creative and productive–to work–whether or not compensated, (4) to view God as the source of provision and a money-paying job as merely one of His distribution mechanisms and (5) in the process, recapture the joy and flourishing God intended for work and the peace that comes from trusting in His promise to provide.
When God created work in Genesis, it was a good thing designed before the Fall. It was part of our creation in the image of a creative and productive creator. The earth was actually designed to need our creative and productive work in order for it to flourish. When Adam was given the task of stewarding the Garden and all of creation, there was no mention of a W-2, a 1099 or a 401(K). There wasn’t even a conditional tie to God’s promise of provision. God commands us to work and He separately promises to provide.
As we mentioned in a prior post, the Hebrew word for work is avodah, which means work, worship and service. The Bible tells us that we were designed to glorify God in all we do–our work is a form of worship. At Integrous, we believe that we glorify God through work by humanizing people and beautifying the world and that this is the ancient path recipe and purpose for work and organizations (which are nothing more than people associating together in their work).
Let us reclaim work as any activity that involves our God-given gifts of creativity or productivity to glorify God, whether or not we get a paycheck. To be fully human and flourish as human beings, we must be using those gifts. Losing a particular job does not make us “unemployed“–it makes us “ready for redeployment“. To have a mindset of unemployed–ceasing to engage in creative and productive activity—is a choice. To have a mindset of ready to redeploy–to be intentional about using our time creatively and productively–is also a choice.
As a culture, we have finally begun to recognize that a parent who stays home to care for and nurture children is working–using their creative and productive gifts. If we think of a way to help or encourage a neighbor, a friend or our community (creativity) and then do it (productivity), we are working. If we think of ways to care for and protect our family (creativity) and then do it (productivity), we are working. If we volunteer our talent (creativity) and time (productivity) to a non-profit, we are working. (Creatively selecting a Netflix movie and then productively hitting “play” does not count!)
Redeployment and work in any creative or productive activity that humanizes another person (loving or serving does that), adds a little beauty to the world (acts of kindness, service, creativity and productivity that help others to flourish bring the world a little closer to God’s intended beauty) or otherwise glorifies God, restores our humanity and opens the door to joy and flourishing for ourselves and others.
When humans engage in creative, meaningful work that grows out of relationships and gives back to the community they become more deeply human. (Jeff Van Duzer)
RECLAIMING GOD AS OUR PROVIDER
When we conflate work and provision by keeping work in a money box, we are confusing a faucet with a reservoir–a distribution mechanism with a source. A particular job that provides compensation is a faucet–a distribution mechanism God uses to fulfill His promise of provision. He is the source, drawing from a vast reservoir. When we view a job as the source of our provision and put on ourselves the burden of provision for our family, we have substituted ourselves and our employer for God. Our responsibility is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and pursue whole-heartedly the opportunities for provision God opens up and puts in our path.
By taking work out of the money box, trusting God with provision and pursuing without fear the opportunities He creates for using our gifts of creativity and productivity, we open up the possibility to re-imagine “unemployment” as “ready for redeployment” and to experience work as the blessing it was created to be.