Monday, January 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Our work is not our identity, though it is an important part of how God intends us to live. For too many of us, our sense of identity is more rooted in our performance than it is in God's grace. It is wonderful to be successful at what God has called you to do, but when you use your success to define who you are, you will always have a distorted perspective."

Paul Tripp & Tim Lane; How People Change, p. 5

15 comments:

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

but what if it is just a way to earn a living - is it still an important part of who we are? I know that we're to do all to the glory of God - that's not what I mean - I just wonder sometimes if work is like a garment that we can just take off at the end of the day or if it actually becomes part of who we are.

mark said...

when God requires of us to work 60-80hrs/wk jsut to scrape together money to pay a doctor to deliver another baby... perhaps He is teaching us that the living in the kingdom while here on earth is not meant to be comfortable but that He would comfort us to persevere, and in our perseverance through building the Kingdom through providing for our families we find our identity in the work that He does. peace

Every Square Inch said...

Susan

Certainly a God honoring view of work would mean that work is more than just a paycheck.

I'm thinking by your comment that you are advocating the view that perhaps the work we do is part of our identity and cannot simply be taken off at the end of the day? If so, I think there is some legitimacy to what you're saying for some people, especially when they are doing exactly what they're gifted and called to do. A doctor isn't a doctor just to earn a paycheck (or at least I hope not!). The best ones feel called to their work....Or am I reading more into your comment than you intended?

Every Square Inch said...

Mark

I think you're absolutely right - the prosperity gospel tells us that God's blessing means having your material needs and desires met.

Yet, the gospel promises that true rest, comfort and riches are only found in knowing Christ. Sometimes that means that God allows us hardship in this life to remind us so. He also shows himself to us in our hardship so your comment about perseverance is, I think, quite true.

Thanks for sharing

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

"Certainly a God honoring view of work would mean that work is more than just a paycheck." Elaborate, please.

I'm not sure what I'm saying really. Maybe I'm finding work frustrating right now due to lack of success, at least as my department chair and apparently the promotion committee define success. What I do seems to have so little to do with who I am; I think some days, maybe most days, I'd just be happy to be home and cook and clean and not go to the lab at all. I question whether what I do has any eternal significance at all.

Every Square Inch said...

Susan

"Elaboration" - I simply meant to say that the purpose of work for the Christian has a broader implication than just provision for our lives (which in itself a wonderful thing!) The Christian has the unique opportunity to worship God through her work...working as to the Lord, to please Him. That brings meaning to the most menial of tasks.

Yet, we're not to be defined by our work...our primary identity is not as workers/slaves but as redeemed children of God.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

you're right, of course. maybe my problem is that I have been defining myself by my success at work and now that it's threatened I'm not sure who I am?

In any event, it's hard for me to see at present that God is getting any glory from my day to day work - it seems quite futile.

mark said...

Something to share.

i read somewhere today that God's purpose is to deliver us not from the powers and pains of this world, but from our sin.

with this in mind i took inventory of how this freedom manifests itself in my living, even at work:
1. He is restless in me, that i would look at the lilies of the field...
2. He stirs my thoughts to want Him to be as true as He is
3. He is restless in me, that i would be able to receive Him as my Father who He is

Then i watched my 45 day old son contentedly breastfeed without any concern beyond what he was being given, yet crying out when hungry, and then i could see the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray and the heart to have.

Work, as of 9:51am EST, has been filled with the aroma of my daily bread from God, the words of life.
Work, as mostly defined by my employer, yet created and given to me by my Father, has been a minor aspect overshadowed by loving kindness, Him being glorified by His work in me, even if that means that i stand in solitude like a tree in Alaska that no-one has seen before yet is fully proclaiming the glory of God.

grace and peace

Every Square Inch said...

Mark

thanks for sharing your experience of how you are experiencing God's presence

Craver Vii said...

Can grace be a part of our identity? I guess I thought that we receive grace despite who we are.

L.L. Barkat said...

Interesting thought from Craver there.

I was thinking that some people choose to be defined by their failures. Others by their chaos and conflict. In other words, success is just one thing people use to define themselves. Probably the A personality people! :)

mark said...

craver iiv,

would one then ask, "how well did i love today?" as the compass-question for making sense of brick laying, dish washing, etc.

mark said...

craver iiv,

was meant to be

craver vii

apologies

Every Square Inch said...

Craver

Grace is the essence of our identity. I know someone who makes a regular practice of answering "better than I deserve" whenever he's asked how he's doing. While that can be rote, it's also a great way of reminding ourselves of the grace we've received.

LL

A type personality - guilty as charged! (not that you were charging)

I think you're so right - having received the grace of God as Christians means that we look redemptively at life - the "failures or even difficult trials of life like serious illnesses...refusing to be defined by them.

I think our dear blogging friend, Charity has been a shining, God glorifying example of this by refusing to be defined by her cancer.

Every Square Inch said...

Mark

"how well did I love today" in the midst of work is a very provoking view of how to engage work as Christians.

That's not to displace the need to give our best effort but to couple that with the mandate to love our neighbor is essentially Christ like