“What Would You Say You Do Here . . . .”

The movie Office Space stands as one of the funniest movies ever made about work. (There isn’t much competition.) It’s a satire about a group of characters fed up and disillusioned with their work, most of whom work in cubes at a software company called Initech doing on the order of “15 minutes of real, actual work every day.” The primary storyline of the movie revolves around Peter Gibbons’ dream of quitting his job, never getting a new one, and doing nothing. He has this exchange with his co-worker:

“Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.”

Office Space is full of exaggeration and sarcasm. But most weeks I go to work, the toil sets in, and I find myself seriously struggling with the big question of that movie–is this what I am meant for?

In my work as a lawyer, I spend 9 to 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, at an office in meetings, writing briefs, analyzing evidence, researching the law, negotiating, advising clients, and billing my time in tenths of an hour (a miserable way to measure productivity). What is God’s view of the way I spend all of this time and energy – the majority of my waking life? This is a question that sits heavily in my gut.

But the answers I hear from the world – that I’m supposed to work for identity, money, and prestige – leave me wanting. And the answers of the Christian world – mostly, that I’m at work solely so I can awkwardly force Jesus into as many work conversations as possible – don’t fare much better. Dorothy Sayers, an English author, pointedly asked this of the Church: “How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?” (Check out her awesome essay called Why Work)

I think God is deeply concerned about the actual work we do, how and why we do it, and our co-workers with whom we work along side. God’s view of work is rich, and it adds up to far more than water-cooler evangelism.

It was God who worked first in creation. And it was God who put Adam in the garden to work it and keep it before sin entered the world. It was Jesus who came and started doing his ministry as a carpenter. From the beginning, God created us in his image to show Him off in all corners of the earth – in factories, farms, construction sites, courtrooms, paper mills, concert halls, skyscrapers, and classrooms. And in our work – in our building, investing, engineering, fixing, teaching, creating, cooking, coaching, and healing – we get to display God’s attributes, serve our communities, and work in a way that turns the power, prestige and profit values of the working world on their head.

The official tagline of Office Space is “Work Sucks.” But it is sin and all of its influence in this world that really sucks. Bad bosses suck. Toil and drudgery suck. Unemployment sucks. Injuries, anxiety, and stress suck. My work email never shutting off (and my sinful inability to totally unplug from my work) suck.

Work is good. And God designed us to do it for his glory. This is an awesome calling and one I’m excited to lead us in learning more about on February 8th at the Men of Hope workshop “Work, Worth, and Worship.”

Join us for the day as we talk practically about how we as men can work to the glory of God, tackle the thorns and idols in our work, and find true gospel rest when our work is finished! Registration is Up Now!

–Bryan Freeman

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2 thoughts on ““What Would You Say You Do Here . . . .”

  1. Nice essay Bryan! I agree. God made us to work and we should enjoy it and do a good job at it. Let us work for the glory of God. Eric Liddell said when he ran, he could feel God’s pleasure. In my best work moments, that’s how I feel too, and I hope you all do too.

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  2. Thanks Dave! Chariots of Fire is awesome. Love the contrast between Eric Liddell’s explanation for why he runs and that of his opponent, Harold Abrahams: “in one hour’s time, I will be out there again. I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my existence.” If I’m honest, I tend to live my life flitting back and forth between those two poles, often finding it really hard to enjoy my work, because in it I’m looking for a security, justification, and purpose that only God can give.

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