The Significance of Work
At ABBA we want to connect people with purpose. First off I would like to put this talk into the context of purpose specifically as it relates to work. “Purpose” is a very broad topic, and this is merely one facet of what we mean when we describe what it looks like to connect people with purpose. That said, let’s jump in to four different parts to the journey of finding purpose in and through our work.
- General purpose originates from our identity in Christ. We find in Genesis that we are created in the image of God. That means that our identity is going to be tied up in His identity. And, when God steps on to the pages of history, he does so as someone who works. This work can be categorized in two main ways. The first is bringing order and structure to chaos. The other is bringing life to emptiness. These two basic ideas help us understand what good work is, the kind of work that displays the image of God.
- Specific purpose is found in our design. At this point perhaps an illustration can provide clarity. Let us say we each are a piece of silverware. The fact that we are not simply chunks of metal, but instead we are crafted in some way insinuates that we have a purpose greater than simply existing. And, we can also quickly see that the shape of our design offers insight into our specific Whereas each of us are called to do work that brings order and life to those around us, we are also shaped in a unique way that will influence how we do that work. This emphasizes the need for self-awareness through things like spiritual gift tests, Strengths Finder, enneagram and other tools. In our example one might discover that they are a knife in a set of silverware.
- Purpose finds its function in work. When I understand my design it begins to inform the work that I do; for our example to cut things. Even then I may find that I am not shaped exactly the same as the other knives in the kitchen. I have a knife block in my kitchen that has chopping knives, steak knives, and a filet knife. Though you could use all of those for the same basic “work” of cutting, what we quickly find is some knives are better at certain work than others. It is through work that I gain even greater understanding about my specific shape and the way that I can best impact the world around me.
- Purpose is often expressed in a job. Most people I meet identify themselves in some way by the job they do. Yet, our job is the most fluid expression of our purpose. Even in our small example a filet knife could do its work in a fish market or in my home. This is often true of us as well, that we can fulfill the specific purpose that God gave us in a myriad of jobs. It also means that changing jobs does not change my purpose, as it does not change my identity, design, or work. Our job is a tool that allows us to express our purpose in this world.
One of the main shifts that we encourage is to evaluate the value of your current job based on its ability to allow you to carry out your purpose using your unique design, rather than simply evaluate your value as an employee by your ability to fulfill the purpose of your organization. A good question to ask is this: “Does my job allow me to do the work I was designed to do in a way that brings order and life to the world around me?”