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November 11, 2017

The Necessity of a Theology of Work

By James Pavlic

Software Development and Ministry

As a bivocational minister and software developer, I hope to bring a unique perspective to encourage church planters and pastors in their relationship and dealings with the unique personalities and perspectives of software developers. Over the next several months, I will deal with five different topics, which I pray will be an encouragement and help to you. These topics include the necessity of a theology of work; the mind of a developer; the heart of a developer; reaching developers with the gospel; and a theology of software development.

Why work?

Well, most of us don’t want to starve, so we drag ourselves to work 5-6 days a week, ranging anywhere from 40-80 total hours. Some people fight their way through the week living for the weekend (“TGIF”); others simply accept it as part of life; and others won’t stop working. Why the broad range of views? I believe the difference is because of each individual’s theology of work, which is why we must have a balanced view.

Some believe work is post-fall, part of God’s curse for humanity’s rebellion. Is this true? Others believe that work should be delightful all the time. Is this realistic?

A balanced view

Genesis 1-3 paints a different picture. First, in Genesis 2:2 it says two times that God finished the “work that He had done.” If God works, then work isn’t sinful or bad. Second, in Genesis 1:26-30 we see that humanity was made in the image of God and given the task of multiplying, having dominion, tending the garden, and harvesting food from the plants. But more explicitly, in Genesis 2:5 and 2:15 we see that humanity was to work and keep the ground. This wasn’t a curse but represented one way humanity was to image God, as earth keepers and beautifiers. Thus, work is a pre-fall ordinance.

Some big implications

In Genesis 1-2 we see a happy picture of life and work. But in Genesis 3:1-19, not so much. Wanting to do their own thing, humanity brought down God’s curse upon everyone and everything. One major curse was that getting food (work) would be hard (Gen. 3:17-19).

But how does this translate to today? Most of us don’t till the ground. We work in various “fields.” I am sure you could easily enumerate how your own work is cursed. For instance, in IT there are hardware failures, software bugs, malicious hackers, data loss, poor programming and design, tough people to work with, and many other things. Thus, all of us know that work is not always wonderful.

A ray of hope

However, there is hope. Work can be redeemed. We don’t have to live with “a case of the Mondays,” nor does Wednesday have to be “hump day.” Work can be used to make the world a better place, and it can be a good thing for us too.

Jesus Christ came to redeem not only our souls, but our interactions and attitudes toward the world too. He wasn’t afraid of work, and it wasn’t bad to Him. He showed us that work was to be done to the best of our ability and to the glory of God.

When He regenerates us, we are given purpose and meaning not only in our minds and hearts but also in our hands. He blessed us with redemption so that we might glorify Him and be a blessing to the world.

“I don’t work for you”

One day after a season of very long hours and difficult projects, my boss asked me why I worked so hard. I told him, “I don’t work for you. I work for God first and foremost, and He tells me to work hard for you.” I was able in that brief moment, without being too preachy, to share a little of the reason for the hope I have (1 Pet. 3:13-17).

A vision for every profession

Work is not primarily to make money; it is something we do because it is in our DNA. God made us to image Him, to work hard and to do our work well. We are to be craftsmen/women who create excellent products and do excellent work. We should delight in being able to do this because we are a new humanity in Christ Jesus. We are created for good works, not just loving others, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and stopping oppression. We must do these things. This is part of the good works Christ has called us to, but it is more than this. It is doing all our work with a full heart and to the Lord (Col. 3:23-24). Doing all we do and doing it well! This is what the result of being given a new humanity produces.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Pavlic

James Pavlic (@jtpavlic) is a bivocational pastor who has worked in software development for almost 20 years and currently lives in Mesopotamia, Ohio where he is on the journey of rural church planting.

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