“This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.  These things I command you, that you love one another.”  John 15:12, 17

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done…and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.”  Ecclesiastes 2:33

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s own life for his friends.” John 15:13

Using the ever present internet I attempted to look up the author of the saying: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”.  Alas, I could not find anything authoritative concerning the person who first spoke this oft quoted mantra.  What I did find; however, was an amazing amount of articles extolling the wisdom of this comment and some who were dead set against that philosophy.

In my own experience as trainer/facilitator of adults in many different subjects over three decades, I can tell you I have seen a shift in the approach and philosophy toward work.  Decades ago,  I found there to be more a focus on work; whether it be a daily job or a life long career, toward the stability of employment, the ability from a financial standpoint to provide for one’s self and family and a modicum of time that one could spend away from work in the pursuit of other things.  The concept of “loving” work was not very prevalent.  Although, I will surely admit that there was a desire for a certain amount of “job satisfaction”; rarely did I find that to be the overriding measure of the success of “work”.

Yet over time, and partially amongst different generations, I experienced that concept shifting.  I started to hear and continue to increasingly hear more about the need  for most every aspect of effort that is being applied to “work” or vocation to be personally fulfilling and rewarding.  There needs to be a deep, sustainable joy encapsulated in virtually each day’s work shift or there is something wrong with the job or vocation chosen.  The unending quest, the “Holy Grail” if you will of work,  is the complete connection to, the earthly evaluation of the worth of effort being generated, being tied to evaluation of the worth of the self; where the ultimate goal of work is not defining what “we do” but rather “who we are”!

A reader might get the sense that I prefer the attitude of “the good old days where work was a bad four letter word” to today’s quest for the meaning of life in work.  I assure you that is not the case at all. For in that “old style” thinking of work it was far to easy to compartmentalize it.  Often people would see work as having nothing to do with God and therefore, He was never a part of it and thus I could act however I pleased while in the process of work.  God was in the church on Sunday; Monday through Friday, God never made it onto the plant floor or through the office door.  Solomon seems to have a fairly dark, depressed notion about life in general in his biblical book; Ecclesiastes, yet he several times mentioned that the proper outlook to have was to look at the work completed by one’s hands as a gift from God.

Yet when I look at how God described work to Adam as he was being driven from the garden, when I look at what Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out two-by-two to teach and heal in the towns in the country side of Judea, when I read what the risen Christ said in the “Great Commission”; never did I come across the word “love” being used as it applies to our work or even our vocation.

Why do I think this is so important?  Because of what and when Jesus Christ was talking about when He did decide to speak of love.  Understand Jesus spoke at great length about love.  Yet it seems that love was a very special way of being.  That love, being in love, the state of love was to be specially reserved for God first, then only one other aspect of creation; primarily each other.  Love was and is a gift from God to be cultivated for and returned to God and then shared with our fellow human beings.  True, those human beings may very well be our enemies; but they are still living, breathing human beings.  Jesus was also very clear; love should not be for inanimate things; money or lavish houses or costly perfumes.

When Jesus talked about an example of love; true love, He talked about the actual laying down of one’s life for the object of that love; in this case being, a friend.  Yet I believe I have seen people who love, truly love their work.  I have seen how they are willing to sacrifice virtually everything, their friends, their spouse, their children, even their health; sacrifice it all for the “work” that they do.  They so identify with what they do, that it becomes the only reason for their existence, with any and all other aspects of their life coming in second.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, none other than God, Himself warned us that He is jealous over us.  Time and time again, He showed His extreme displeasure when we put anything; built any idol which we placed in a higher priority, that we love more than Him. Can we enjoy our work? Can we see blessing and joy from our vocation? Most assuredly.  I very much enjoy writing.  I experience in writing a connection to God and a reason to love God all the more.  Yet should I ever find that I love writing more than the people that God has blessed me with by bringing into my life, should I find that I either sacrifice myself to or worse yet, sacrifice my family, friends to this process of, this work of writing; then I believe I am committing a grave sin.  Should that happen, I believe God will be swift and perhaps harsh in getting my attention to repent and change from that sacrifice to an idol.

Love God through your work.  Indeed, use your work to love others.  With that sort of outlook on work, that sort of setting of priorities; blessings will come to you through the work that you do.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; You have blessed us in that there is no aspect of human endeavor, except sin, that if we seek You we can not find You; even work.  Yet we confess that we are tempted to take an earthly view of work, elevating it to an equal status of love, an equivalent impact in our lives as You are.  Forgive us we pray, Most Merciful Father and pour out Your Spirit upon us allowing us to see that love is to be reserved in sharing first with You and then with our fellow human beings.  That all other things, earthly created should not share in our love, whether it be possessions or vocations.  Help us to seek you out, daily in the work that we do that we might find the true blessings You intend for us through the work You have appointed for us.  That in having the correct priorities; we would live lives of praise, not to us and our efforts, but to You and Your loving gifts to us.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen