Chuck Colson came to work excited. He’d show up at the office at the beginning of the workweek and proclaim to the staff, “Thank God it’s Monday!” And he meant it.
The source of his attitude toward work was his clear vision and certain knowledge that God had called him to his work. He knew that the talents God had given him, God could use. Those, along with his life experiences (including a law degree, a tenure in the White House, connection with Watergate, and time in prison) enabled him to minister in prisons, to work for criminal justice reform, and to teach Christian worldview. His hours and days had a purpose, because for Chuck, “work” was not defined down to merely his career. He understood work, as it has been since God first created His image-bearers to care for His world, to be an essential part of what it means to be human.
As Warren Cole Smith and I discussed in the conclusion of our book, “Restoring All Things,” the Judeo-Christian approach to work is distinct from other worldviews, and best summed up in the often used (and often misunderstood) term “vocation.”
Vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, meaning “to call.” Today, vocation is often confused with occupation, or what we do to make a living. The Protestant Reformers understood vocation differently. For them, anywhere and everywhere we go is our “station,” situations and relationships ordained by God.
Think about the places you go during any given week: the office or worksite, the grocery store, school, church, the PTA, the neighborhood cookout. Then think about the people you interact with in those places. Do we take advantage of our unique talents and experiences and figure out how we might use them to join in God’s work of drawing all people to Himself?
Our station in life — the situations and relationships we find ourselves in — is what Chuck’s longtime colleague and friend, theologian T.M. Moore, described as “the personal mission field.” And this personal mission field is God-ordained. As Paul told the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers during his famous “Mars Hill” sermon, “And (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
It is no accident if we are brothers, daughters, employees, neighbors and citizens. God is writing our stories into his Grand Narrative of the Story of All Things. And it being the grandest of all stories, God uses a cast of billions, all with individual, particular gifts, abilities and passions. And here I have to add that all Christians, not just clergy or those who work for nonprofit ministries, have a sacred vocation. Each and every one of us who bear the name of Christ — be we stockbrokers, soldiers, auto mechanics, nurses, whatever — are called to join in God’s work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).
So, how do we get ourselves into a “Thank God it’s Monday” frame of mind? Whether just out of college, nearing retirement, or even retired, we ought to ask ourselves, “What do I love doing?” Or better yet, “What makes me come alive?”
We might thrive on creativity or analytics. Maybe we love to see systems built that benefit others, or we are bent towards giving or cooking or painting? Our passions are good indicators of how God designed us.
Then how do we apply those passions in a way that give us purpose, and that shows our love for God and our neighbor? As Warren Smith and I wrote, we should ask ourselves, “What breaks my heart?” Or, “What are the cultural trends that are leading people away from truth?” Christians have a stunning track record of addressing evils like racism, slavery, poverty, corruption, and other forms of injustice in their time and place. We have a high calling, indeed!
To be Christian is to be called to God’s redeeming work in the world. And anyone who is in Christ can and should seek to glorify God wherever they are — even on a Monday.
• John Stonestreet is the president of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is co-author of “Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People,” and co-host of “BreakPoint” radio.