This week we begin our series called Happy Monday. Your work is incredibly important to your life.; you define yourself in part by the job you do, you fantasize about what job is next, and you engage with or avoid people based on their jobs. Work defines us. What’s more than that is that your work is incredibly important to God. Work is kingdom ordained and kingdom oriented, meaning that our work carries purpose not only for us but as we grow and engage with God. Yet our work can be challenging, leading us to resentment, joylessness, and burnout. So, what do we do with the problem and the potential for work?
This week we are diving into a series that helps us to uncover how our work life and our God life come into one. We will be exploring how we can find joy, purpose, and happiness in our work lives. By exploring the 10 Commandments for work, we will reshape our approach and understanding of the jobs we do. Join us as we learn how to find joy in our work.
I will thank God it’s Monday at the start of my workweek.
I will do my work with all my heart, as if I’m doing it for Jesus.
I will do my work with the awareness that Jesus is with me.
I will be humble and learn the truth about myself at work.
I will not compare my career advancement with others.
I will expect work to be challenging, where there are problems and difficulty.
I will do my job as Jesus would do my job.
I will give myself fully to my work.
I will view my work as a place where spiritual formation happens.
I will expand my network by asking the question, “How can I help?”
I will remember those who cannot find work.
I will join the work of God in my community, regardless of my age or place of life.
[SLIDE_01] I’m so excited about this series we’re calling Happy Monday — how to find joy in your work. And I want to start with a question — have you ever had a job you didn’t like? Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found the single most important factor in life satisfaction and overall well-being is job satisfaction. How you feel about your work turned out to be a bigger predictor of life satisfaction than how you feel about your family, your leisure time, your health, your finances, or your social life. What’s more is there was a Gallup study of about 250,000 people. They found that only 30 percent of employees are engaged and inspired in their work. Which means that 70 percent of us have just checked out mentally. What’s more is there has been a dramatic increase in stress-related illnesses for people who have high-speed jobs with tight deadlines, which seem to be the only kind of jobs left anymore. People who are happy in their work tend to be happy in their lives. People who are miserable in their work tend to be miserable in their lives. In fact, one study cited by John Maxwell found that outside of genetics, job satisfaction is the number-one predictor of how long you will live. Now that you know that, how long do you think you’ll live? Do you think you might die at any moment. Your work is incredibly important to your life. What’s more than that is your work is incredibly important to God. So we’re doing this series to help bring your work life and your God life into one life. And today we’re going to walk through The 10 Commandments of Work. If God were to give us 10 instructions about our work life, what would they be? I would say the first commandment of work would be this: [SLIDE_02] Thou shall thank God it’s Monday. Why should we thank God for Monday? Because God invented Monday. God invented work. This is from Genesis chapter two: [SLIDE_03] By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2 In other words, the first person to work in the Bible is God. When the writer of Genesis says, “In the beginning God created” — that means in the beginning, God worked. [SLIDE_04] This idea of a God who works was actually unique in the ancient world. Other religions in the ancient world actually taught that the gods, whoever they were, created human beings to work for the gods — to offer them food so the gods could sleep and party. * Zeus did not have a job. * Baal did not have a job. * Yahweh, the God of Israel, had a job. The God of Israel was the only God who worked. This had huge implications and still does. One scholar put it like this: [SLIDE_05] Israel was virtually the only ancient people who viewed work as dignifying rather than demeaning. In ancient Greece, people who practiced a trade were slaves. There were actually Greek cities that passed laws that prohibited citizens from working. Work was to be done by slaves, women, and non-citizens. By contrast, in Israel, in the Talmud, which is this group of Jewish writings, it said: [SLIDE_06] He who does not teach his son a trade is as if he teaches him robbery. In Israel, they loved trades. * Peter was a fisherman. * You may know that the apostle Paul was a tentmaker. * Jesus was a carpenter. That’s not an accident. They loved work. [SLIDE_07] What is work? Work is the expenditure of energy for the creation of value. I’ve heard it expressed this way — work is love made visible. Work, when it’s done right, is just love made visible. You can do this whether you’re a student, whether you’re unemployed, whatever. Everyone can do this. Everyone can make love visible. Everyone can expend energy to create value. So this Monday, whether you’re earning a CEO level salary or minimum wage, whether you’re a student or retired, whether you work for a great boss or Attila the Hun, whether you’re headed for Shark Tank or a think tank, this Monday, when you wake up, the first thing I’d like you to say when you get to work is this — “Thank God it’s Monday.” With incredible passion and conviction and joy, let’s just say — “Thank God it’s Monday.” Because God is a Monday God. Alright, I have to set up the second command with a video clip. Part of why I’m so excited about this series is we live in arguably the most thrilling time and the most creative place for work in human history. If any followers of Jesus have ever been fired up about work, it ought to be us. Maybe you know about a show called Silicon Valley. I want to set this second commandment up with a clip from it. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s a comedy about two nerdy entrepreneurs who are trying to find just the right kind of worker to join the team. You wonder in this moment, “What kind of attitude is this person going to bring?” Check this out. [SLIDE_08] Video: Silicon Valley [SLIDE_09] Alright, so commandment number two is: [SLIDE_10] 2. Thou shall crush it as if thy work is for the Lord. This is Paul writing to the church at Colossae. [SLIDE_11] Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23 Crush it. Give it all you have as if you’re working for Jesus. Now, I used to think about this as kind of a metaphor, working for God, but in Genesis, we’re told: [SLIDE_12] The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15 In other words, when God gave the human race dominion, that meant he was assigning to us the job, the work of culture-making and creation care. [SLIDE_13] God gave human beings work to do, space to work in, a mission to work on, resources to work with, and accountability to work under. Question — would you work a little differently this week if Jesus were literally your boss? Well, here’s the thing — Jesus is literally our boss. He is being blessed by and served by my work, by your work. He really is. Our aim is to do the best work we can do, to be my most (your most) diligent, creative, focused, initiative-taking, best self because we work for Jesus. So crush it. Crush it as if you’re working for the Lord. “How do I crush it?” That leads to commandment number three. [SLIDE_14] 3. Thou shall remember His yoke is easy. This is what Jesus said: [SLIDE_15] Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, (a lot of people in our day) and I will give you rest. [SLIDE_16] Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 Now Jesus, as he often does, uses a picture from the world of work, from the field of agriculture. [SLIDE_17] An ox was a working animal. Maybe you know this — if an ox was in a yoke, how many oxen were yoked together? It was two. So the idea here is never work alone. In other words, always work with Jesus. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me — do your work with me.” I love these words from Dallas Willard. He would get real practical about this stuff. This is what he said. [SLIDE_18] Let’s say I’m a plumber going to clean out someone’s sewer. You stay attentive to what you’re doing at the moment. [SLIDE_19] You ask, “How will I do this as Jesus would do this?” If you encounter difficulties with people you’re serving or with a pipe, you never fight that battle alone. You invoke the presence of God. [SLIDE_20] You expect to see something happen that is not the result of you. The crucial thing is to be attentive to God’s hand, not to get locked into thinking, “It’s me and this pipe.” Never do that. This is living in the kingdom of God. This is having the kingdom of God invade the kingdom of plumbing or the kingdom of Apple or the kingdom or Target or whatever. [SLIDE_21] * It’s never just you and the pipe. * It’s never just you and the computer. * It’s never just you and the angry customer. * It’s never just you and the bad cash flow. * It’s never just you and the broken-down car. * It’s never just you and the missed numbers last quarter. It’s always you and Jesus — “Jesus, how are WE going to handle this?” I invoke his presence, and then I thank him ahead of time, and then I look for what happens as a result of working with Jesus that would not have happened just through me. * I talk about my problem with him. * I ask for his help. * I thank him in advance for what he’s going to do… and I look for it. * And I put the heavy burden of stress and worry about my work life on him. See, it’s not work that crushes people; it’s the pressure and stress of work that crushes people. And the only antidote for that is the easy yoke. We need to be praying for that every day. Alright, that’s the third commandment. The fourth commandment is: [SLIDE_22] 4. Thou shall not be defensive. You know, work is one of the best places in the world to learn the truth about yourself. This is from the book of Proverbs. The writer says: [SLIDE_23] Too much pride causes trouble. Be sensible and take advice. Proverbs 13:10 Work is such a great place to be humble and learn the truth. [SLIDE_24] Between high school and college, I took the year off and worked for a friend who owned a maintenance company. I was not a great maintenance worker. One time I got sent to replace a broken window. I had never done that before. I had no idea what to do. I broke two more windows trying to replace the one already broken window. After that, my boss had me work in the finance department. He thought maybe I should sit at a desk and use my brain. I would do less damage that way. I learned what it feels like to work at a job you’re not good at. And I learned how to receive real honest feedback — that I was a window-breaking, math-challenged underachiever. And I learned to notice and admire people who, before then, in my arrogance, I honestly probably wouldn’t have appreciated. You see, as followers of Jesus, our worth is already a done deal with God. It’s not on the line in our work. Followers of Jesus ought to be the most coachable people in the corporate world. I’ll give you a baby step on this one. Invite someone at work who is not your biggest fan to meet with you — have coffee or lunch or something. Then tell them, “In the past, I’m not sure I’ve received feedback with the best spirit, so would you be willing to tell me what it’s like to work with me? What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” Then listen and take notes. Don’t explain, don’t defend, don’t solve. Just learn. Alright, commandment number five is: [SLIDE_25] 5. Thou shall not compare thy career advancement with others. The writer of Proverbs said: [SLIDE_26] A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 Work is just the place where all the ugly stuff comes to the surface. [SLIDE_27] I was talking to a business guy once. He was telling me, “I’ll read articles about other guys in my field, and I always look to see how old they are. If they’ve climbed higher than me but are older than me, I’m okay with that, but when I started seeing guys who have out-performed me and are younger than me, something started to get painful inside.” Have you ever envied someone else’s job or office? Have you ever envied someone else’s job, office, title, career path, salary, boss, or abilities? Envy is just not an optimal life-enhancement strategy. Now, of course you can’t stop envying by trying really hard to stop envying. It gets way down deep into us, into our bodies and our synapses. I’ll tell you something that has helped me in this area — it’s to start praying for the person I envy, praying that they succeed even more. It’s hard to just sincerely pray to God for someone to soar and to envy that person at the same time. For at least those couple moments when I’m praying, I find God is helping to liberate me. What’s good is not to try to beat someone I envy. Because there will always be someone above them. But to be liberated from envy is where the freedom is. Alright, commandment number six is: [SLIDE_28] 6. Thou shall expect problems. We have this strange tendency. We expect to go to work, but then we’re surprised when we have problems. We don’t expect work to be hard. Work is hard. That’s why they call it work. It’s always hard. Part of what happened at the fall when sin entered the picture is work got all messed up. See, sometimes, some people think work came because of the fall, and before the fall, there was no work. They believe that someday, when we go to heaven, we’re just going to sit around. It will be an eternal vacation, and the time for work will be done. That’s not true. God himself worked before the fall. God gave people work to do before the fall. What happened at the fall when sin entered the picture is work got messed up, and God said, “Now the ground will produce thorns and thistles.” Now we’re going to be at odds with our environment. “And you will eat by the sweat of your brow.” Before the fall, work was no sweat, but now, we’re disconnected. We’re at odds. One of the pictures of discipleship Jesus gives is from the world of work where he says: [SLIDE_29] No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62 This is about being a follower of Jesus, being a disciple of him. No one who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service. [SLIDE_30] Of course, this could be applied metaphorically to lots and lots of different areas of following Jesus, but it actually starts literally. If I’m plowing, the ground will be hard. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t need plowing. How would Jesus plow if he were a farmer? He wouldn’t take five steps and say, “Hey, this is hard. I think I’ll quit.” He would keep going. And he’ll help me keep going because it’s never just me and the plow. It’s never just me and the pipe. This Monday, whatever you do — volunteer, school, office, store, restaurant, wherever — expect cranky customers, difficult coworkers, slow computers, stubborn engines, restless students, challenging decisions. Expect it. This is what Jesus says to expect: [SLIDE_31] Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 Which days? Each day. How much trouble? Enough trouble. Trouble today, trouble tomorrow. Count on it. [SLIDE_32] If you want to know what you can count on tomorrow — count on trouble. Jesus said it. Work is full of problems. The idea that it ought to be just this great place where I experience self-fulfillment and nonstop easy creativity, and everyone just cheers me on. That’s why they call it work. Trouble today, trouble tomorrow. Count on it. Alright, commandment number seven: [SLIDE_33] 7. Thou shall embrace thy real workplace today over thy imaginary work tomorrow. Embrace your real work today, whatever it is, however humble, however difficult, over your imaginary, grandiose, marvelous, success-driven work tomorrow. The writer of Ecclesiastes says: [SLIDE_34] Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10 That’s a cheery thought, isn’t it? Do your job as Jesus would do your job. [SLIDE_35] “What if I dislike my job or hate my job?” That’s an increasing problem in our world. If you dislike your job or hate your job, do your job as Jesus would do your job. That’s actually the quickest way either into a new job or into joy in your current job, whatever the job is. A couple weeks ago I was working on a project in our shower that involved scraping out old caulk around the base of the shower and replacing it, as well as replacing a cartridge in our shower faucet to stop it from leaking. I told you earlier about my ability around maintenance. Well, I started on the caulk, which took me hours to scrape and then replace with new caulk. While the new caulk was drying, I decided to replace the cartridge in the faucet. How hard could that be right? I mean there are Youtube videos of moms walking me through how to replace a cartridge in a shower faucet. Well, after several attempts and a couple trips to Home Depot to get the right tools, I was able to remove the cartridge. And then there was a strange noise, a strange pop, and all of a sudden, gallons of water were gushing like Niagara Falls out of the pipe onto the floor of the shower where the caulk I just replaced was still drying. I said, “Kathy there’s something wrong with this pipe, and I don’t know what to do. I want to use bad words.” Kathy said, “Matt, it’s never just you and the pipe.” Okay, that’s not exactly how it happened. But I did want to used words. The real issue is never just, “Am I in the right job?” or, “Is my job going well?” The real issue is never just, “What job am I bringing myself to?” The deeper issue is, “Am I bringing my best self to the job?” It’s not, “What job do I bring myself to?” It’s, “What self do I bring to my job? Am I bringing my best self?” “Am I doing what’s best? Or am I doing what’s easy?” “Am I bringing the best that I can bring? Or am I doing just enough to get by?” There’s so much in the Bible about work. Paul said this to the Corinthians. [SLIDE_36] Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Now, the work of the Lord is the work God has for me to do. And of course, that’s all my work. It’s not just ministry work. It’s all my work. My work in the Lord or to labor in the Lord is how I work. How do I work? I work in God. I work with God. [SLIDE_37] People sometimes ask, “How can I bring Jesus into my workplace?” Well, you don’t because Jesus is already there. Jesus is every bit as present there as Jesus is here when we worship, and when we learn. God is present in my work, whatever it is, every bit as much as he right here right now, wherever you are. In fact, your job will be the primary place of your spiritual formation. Think about this for a moment. Your job will be the primary place where your spiritual formation happens. Spiritual formation is a really important phrase. We’ve talked about this before. It’s quite simple. It’s just the process of shaping your inner thoughts and desires and habits and choices. Everyone is being formed spiritually. Everyone is being formed spiritually all the time. It’s not just Christians. It’s not just an extra-credit deal. It’s the most important thing going on. Everyone is being formed spiritually, and your job is a really important part of that. How many hours a week does the average person in the Bay Area work? Let’s say 40, just as a joke. How many hours does the average person in the Bay Area go to church? Let’s say one, just for fun. Here’s the deal. Forty hours or plus at work and one hour (and for most people it’s less than that) at church. The goal is not to try to undo what happens in 40 hours by what happens in one hour. The goal is not primarily to keep making the amount of time people spend in church bigger and bigger. The goal is to learn to be with Jesus in the 40 hours a week that you work because he’s already there, because he cares about that place every bit as much as he cares about what happens in the church. You see, part of the reason we do this service is so you can learn and be encouraged and worship God and remember he’s in charge and then take all of that with you into your world at work. Alright, commandment number eight: [SLIDE_38] 8. Thou shall expand thy network. The writer of Ecclesiastes says: [SLIDE_39] Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Notice this actually has a work reference — “because they receive a good return on their work.” The idea of being “linked in” started long before our day, and the best way to build a network, the best way to be “linked in” is just to help people. Just be interested in people. [SLIDE_40] One of the people I’ve learned about this from now for the past ten years is Ruth McAninch. Ruth was one of our board members and served faithfully at Blue Oaks for 10 years. Ruth has had one of the greatest work lives I’ve known. And the main thing I see in Ruth is she is genuinely interested in everyone she meets. I will guarantee you if you know Ruth and ever ask her, “How are you?” She’ll say, “More important, how are you?” If there’s a question I’ve heard Ruth ask once, I’ve literally heard her ask it a hundred times. “How can I help?” You can tell if you get to know her it’s not like she’s thinking, “I have to try to be helpful.” She likes doing it, and she’ll almost always find a way. It doesn’t mean she’s a doormat. It doesn’t mean she never gets anything done herself. She was an air traffic controller. A lot of people don’t think of being an air traffic controller as being a helping profession, but with Ruth, it’s a helping profession. Last week, I was out for a run. I was listening to a leadership podcast, and a car slowed down in front of me. The driver rolled down the window, and asked me, “Could you help me with directions?” Honestly, my first thought was, “Don’t you know how to use Waze? I don’t want to stop and help you. I’m not even sure I know the right directions. Besides, I’m busy. I’m listening to this podcast about leading in Jesus’ name.” Then the thought occurred to me, “It’s never just me and the pipe. It’s never just me and the pipe.” I said to the person, “Just follow me. I’ll run ahead. I’ll get you on the street you want to be on.” It was such a tiny little thing, but it felt good to think, “I can help.” Literally, five minutes later, another car stopped, and another driver asked, “Could you help me?” This time I was like, “I would be thrilled to help you. Move over. I’ll drive there if you want. I would love to do that.” One of the most important assets you bring to your work is the network of people you learn from and connect with. The best way to build that is with one question — this Monday, after you say, “Thank God it’s Monday,” just practice saying, “How can I help?” After you say, “Thank God it’s Monday,” just practice saying, “How can I help?” Alright, commandment number nine: [SLIDE_41] 9. Thou shall remember those who cannot find work. One of the worst parts of unemployment (because God made us to work) is so often, there is this stigma attached to it. People can feel shame. People experience rejection or the sense of not being wanted. One of the great heroes in the faith and work department these days is a man in Southern California named Father Greg Boyle. You might know about him. He started what’s now called Homeboy Industries. He helps tons of young people get out of gangs. Father Boyle says nothing stops a bullet like a job. Most of these young guys face histories and battles and challenges I cannot even imagine. He was saying the largest service they offer to Homeboy Industries is tattoo removal. He told about one of the times he realized the need for that. One guy who had recently gotten out of prison came to him and had a tattoo on his forehead. This is a young guy recently out of prison. I won’t use the actual word he had, but on his forehead, it said, “Blank the world.” That’s the billboard message on his head. You can imagine where he came from. He came to Father Boyle, and he said, “Father Boyle, I’m having a hard time finding a job.” Father Boyle is like, “Well, let’s put our heads together and see if we can’t figure out something to do.” They went into the tattoo removal business, among other things. Father Boyle says the gang world is so hard to get out of, he has now buried 185 kids. It kills him every time, but he’s saved many more. You know, I can take my ability to work for granted so easily. If you’re working, it’s possible for you to forget your education, your mind, your IQ, your ability to persevere, your energy, your body, your opportunities, your timing are all gifts from God you did nothing to earn. If you’re looking for work, man, I’m so glad you’re here. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on God. As a church, we will help you find work. Maybe the greatest single need for people looking for work is support and encouragement and connection with others who are in the same situation… or have been there recently. One other word here. If you hire people, if you manage, if you develop, if you train, you have such a precious thing in your hands. Ask Jesus to help you do it like he would. Remember what’s at stake. It’s never just you and the pipe. Alright, last commandment: [SLIDE_42] 10. Thou shall not retire. Did you know the word retire is literally not in the Bible? God the Father did not retire in Genesis 2 after that week of work. One time, Jesus was criticized for working on the Sabbath. Look what he said. [SLIDE_43] My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. John 5:17 The Aberdeen study I mentioned earlier said, “People are increasingly expressing a strong desire to retire when they’re 60 or even 55.” [SLIDE_44] Now, of course, you may (someday, you likely will) stop doing your present paid job. Do you think I’m going to be doing this job when I’m 85 years old and drooling? No. Actually, I’ve started drooling already. * You can volunteer. * You can mentor. * You can encourage. * You can coach. * You can run errands. * You can pray. The point is whatever your age, life is never about the pursuit of pleasant manageability. God didn’t make you for that. It’s about joining in the work of God. There’s a reason we say, “Thank God it’s Monday.” What’s the day before Monday? That would be Sunday. By the way, a lot of people don’t know this. The reason the whole world now takes Sunday off is because 2,000 years ago, the work of a carpenter on a cross got finished, and our sins got paid for, and our guilt was atoned for, and on Sunday, death was defeated, and our hope was secured. And on Monday, we join God in his project of establishing his kingdom in schools and offices and stores and museums and factories. Imagine Blue Oaks, imagine our church being a workforce unleashed for good throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Imagine, every week, we’re making love visible. Imagine we’re managing like Jesus would manage and teaching like Jesus would teach and driving Uber cars the way Jesus would Uber and accounting the way Jesus would account and policing the way Jesus would police. There are problems. Sometimes you get discouraged or disappointed or it’s hard. So you come here for an hour to be encouraged and recalibrated and refreshed and refueled. Then we wake up again the next day and go out with so much spirit and power and love that the whole Bay Area says, “Thank God it’s Monday.” Everyone says when they know someone from our church, “I don’t believe everything that church believes, I don’t agree with everything that church teaches, but man, do they produce great workers there.” Alright, well those are The 10 Commandments of Work. I hope you go out and try them this week. Next week we’ll talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of Work. You’re not going to want to miss that one. Let me pray for you as Michaela and the team come to lead us in a closing song. Blue Oaks Church Pleasanton, CA