Why Work?

If you won a hundred million dollar lottery tomorrow, would you quit your day job?

If you quit, what would you do with your time instead?

A volunteer who works with retirees once told me about a friend of his, a hard-driving executive who loved the Cubs. He always wished he had more time in between his work commitments to make it out to Wrigley. After decades of the corporate grind, he had saved enough to retire in style, with season tickets.

But it turns out you can only watch so many baseball games. Six weeks after retiring, he was back at the office.

Where Does My Work Make a Difference?

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, conversations about the tradeoffs between remote work and work in the office have intensified. These tradeoffs are usually framed in terms of power, preferences, and productivity. We talk about the power struggle when employee preferences and employer preferences conflict. We talk about how work arrangements affect the enterprise as a whole, and whether working from home works.

These ways of framing the conversation have their place, but they don’t show the whole picture. For one thing, workers whose jobs can’t be done remotely often get ignored. Whenever the topic of remote work comes up, my carpenter/general contractor uncle quips, “They haven’t figured out how to make my job remote yet.”

And for those of us who seek to follow Jesus, there’s another dimension to the conversation that we need to consider: How does where I work serve God’s purposes in the world? Does where I work make a difference in loving God and loving my neighbor? Or, to put the same question another way: Where does my work make a difference?