Work and Vocation

By Ps Ho Wei Liang

It is undeniable that work takes up a significant proportion of our time, whether we are students, workers or homemakers. With work being such a major part of our lives, there is an important and pressing need for us to adopt a healthy concept of work as part of our Christian vocation; it is not the whole. The other domains include the Christian call to our family, church and society. Some view rest as part of our divine vocation too, and I concur.

Work is explicitly mentioned countless times throughout the Christian Bible. It is present in the first chapters of Genesis and the last chapters of Revelation, and most of the books in between. The Bible portrays God first as Worker, not as Father or Lord, but as Creator. He made the world and everything in it, including us. There is a link between God’s work and ours. After all, we are made in His image (Gen. 1:26). 

Our creative desire and ability stems from Him, who has created and is still creating today. This creativity can take the form of music, painting, writing, design, floral arrangement and much more! Even routine organisation and maintenance like household chores is creative—constantly creating order to limit chaos that threatens to overwhelm us. God Himself has to do a lot of basic repetitive work in sustaining the world every moment.

While we sometimes complain about our work, especially when hours are long and the work is repetitive and tedious, we must understand that human work by itself is not a curse; it existed before the Fall, and will continue to exist in the new heaven and new earth. However, sin threatens to corrupt the right view of work. In our task-oriented and achievement-focused society, occupational status and work achievement are so highly-valued that many give work excessive homage, even basing his or her self-worth on it. Work in the local context has also been influenced greatly by the modern spirit of rugged individualism—perceived more as a means of personal advancement and quest for significance rather than our service of love to God and neighbour. 

The Word of God informs us that we are not created solely for work; it is a gift from God for us to enjoy and derive satisfaction and joy (Eccl. 5:9; Isa. 65:21-23). The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Answer 1). Work is only part of our Christian vocation. May we treat it as such.