I’ve enjoyed the show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe for many reasons. It provides perspective on how much work goes into the seemingly little things in life. I find it marvelous to see how passionate people are about their jobs, even if they are “dirty.” Many of the episodes answer crazy questions like how Porta Potties get cleaned, how roadkill along highways gets picked up, or what happens to used needles and medical waste from hospitals.
The fact is, work is more significant than the dirt that surrounds it. (Watch Mike Rowe’s TED talk about the subject.) The show isn’t really about dirt and jobs; it’s about work and people. It is not a theologically explicit show, but if you come at it with a another lens, you can see the dignity associated with work. We are beings created in the image of God, and our work has meaning, even the kind of jobs that we might think of as undignified.
The show made me excogitate the fact that all jobs have a bit of “dirtiness” to them. Whether it is in the home, in a classroom, in the office, on a delivery truck, or in the hospital, we all have “dirty jobs.” For example:
- Facing an urgent deadline and having a computer crash
- Dealing with difficult customers or working under a difficult boss
- Having to let an employee go or downsize a labor force
- Working on the weekends and holidays – overworking in general
- Struggle with finding a job
- Struggling with dissatisfaction with the current job and always looking for the next one
- Struggling with “turning off” work, which seemingly never ends and follows you even in your own pocket.
- Struggles in keeping up with the seemingly mundane “chores” – bills, dishes, cleaning
Work often makes us want to curse! But why? Why is it that the work that was designed to be fulfilling, often becomes frustrating – instead of purposeful, it feels pointless? Why is it that we often find ourselves overvaluing our work to the neglect of our families, our physical and spiritual health, our church and communities? Why is it that we also at times undervalue work by complaining about our jobs, being lazy in them and looking forward to the next opportunity or even an unhealthy view of the land of retirement?
If you work forty hours a week for forty years of your life that means you’ll put in more than eighty thousand hours at a job. These hours don’t include the thousands spent in school and the countless others spent commuting. Consequently, one of our greatest needs as men is to understand how daily work, including the above mentioned struggles with work, tie into God’s ultimate purpose in the world.
We need to desperately see how God himself delights in work and he designed our work for our good and for his glory. At the same time, we need to see how work has been marred by our “dirt.” The gospel is the key that brings significant meaning to our dirty jobs and helps us overcome many of the hurdles in the workplace.
Come to the Gospel Work Intensive and be a part of the conversation including a panel discussion on hurdles in the workplace.