Helping Millennials Integrate Their Faith and Work
Advance August 21, 2017
Millennials want to make a tangible difference in the world. They are idealistic and ambitious and have grown up in a globalized world where technology and change have been constants. They also have high views of their own abilities, amplified by social media, the availability of “platform,” and an upbringing full of “participation trophies.” Because of all this, Christian Millennials (of which I am one!) often have grand, dramatic dreams for work. They wants jobs that are unique, world-impacting, and hopefully well-paying! They aim for significance.
But many of these expectations are met with disappointment. The job market is tough, and idealism is often crushed by the realities of pragmatism. Rent needs to be paid. School loans. Many Millennials are forced to take jobs that are less exciting than they had hoped. Work becomes a “necessary evil” to pay the bills, a burden we must carry because we live in a fallen world.
But though it sometimes feels like a curse, it would be wrong to see work as a byproduct of the fall. Millennials need to be encouraged to see work as God sees it. And to do that we must go all the way back to the beginning. As Tim Keller says in his book Every Good Endeavor, “The Book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth – that work was part of Paradise.”
In the beginning, God created. In the beginning, God worked. He brought form to formlessness and light to a dark void. He created an orderly world out of disorderly chaos. The first scene of the Bible is work, and it’s a beautiful thing. “Let there be light…”
But a few scenes later, God does something crazy: He creates humans in his image and gives them the ability to create, to cultivate, to work; to join Him in bringing order out of the chaos (Gen. 1:28, 2:15). Why? Because the story God is telling from the beginning until the end is an epic of good overcoming evil; illuminating light overcoming formless darkness; the “order” of Eden expanding outward into the chaos, gradually making the world a more orderly and “good” place, even as Satan does everything he can to breed chaos and disorder.
God enlists humans to help counter the chaos-breeding “work” of destruction and evil with the order-instituting “work” of creation and goodness. Work is not a humdrum necessary evil. Far from it. Work is our way of bearing God’s image in bringing order and light to an aggressively disordered and dark world.
Work is a sacred calling. And not just work that is mission or ministry-oriented. If we understand the God-ordained mandate of work to be essentially the idea of making the chaotic world a bit more ordered, think of all that that entails.
- Doctors and nurses bring order to the chaos of broken bodies and the disorder of disease.
- Architects and engineers bring order to the chaos of physics and raw building materials.
- Painters bring order to the chaos of blank canvases, colors and textures.
- Accountants bring order to the chaos of balance sheets and taxes.
- Programmers bring order to the chaos of code and web communications.
- Chefs bring order to the chaos of infinitely combinable ingredients and flavors.
- Referees bring order to the chaos of a sports match that could get unruly.
- Writers bring order to chaos of words, sentences and ideas that need communicating.
- Uber and Lyft drivers bring order to the chaos of maps, roads and weary travelers.
Every occupation can be seen through this lens. Christian Millennials who struggle to find meaning in their work should simply ask themselves these questions: What are you bringing order to? In what way, however small it may seem, are you making this chaotic world a bit more orderly? This is our calling as Christians in the working world.
Source: Advance Magazine