Reflection on the Work Season

September 2, 2009 It was only a few short months ago in one of my blog submissions that I announced that summer had officially arrived.  I guess I was really looking forward to a more relaxed pace, some time away traveling, re-creating (recreation) body and soul.  And now with the summer quickly closing, I am fully aware that the work season is about to begin.  Sorry to deliver that news.  On the radio this week, it was reported that Canadians are more overwhelmed by their work lives than ever before, and that most of our waking hours (and a few of our sleepless nights) are concerned with work.  This past week, we had a discussion in our ministry staff about our relationship to work.  I thought I would pass on to you one thought I have about it.  The question is an important one for us who have committed ourselves to Christian faith.

The one thing I remember from high school Physics was the definition of work as that scientific discipline defined it. The basic measurable is the joule, defined as the work done by a force of one newton acting over a distance of one meter. This definition is based on Sadi Carnot's 1824 definition of work as "weight lifted through a height", which is based on the fact that early steam engines were principally used to lift buckets of water, through a gravitational height, out of flooded ore mines [this must be true, I read it on Wikipedia!].  In other words, work is an effect that can be quantified; from the standpoint of physics, it isn’t effort that qualifies as work, but effect.  One could, from this perspective, push all day against a heavy rock, but if it doesn’t budge, no work is produced.  One would feel like they worked hard, but by the hard quantification of physics, if nothing has been effected, no work had been done.  On the other hand, move a small feather one inch, and that is work.  Work is effect, not effort.

I find this measurable deeply challenging to my life as a Jesus follower.  I have a job – a ministry job to be sure, but it is a job – that carries with it responsibilities and duties.  I have a lot of things that I need to do, and other things I feel obligated to do.  Sometimes I look at the amount of things that are on my agenda, and I get anxious.  When that happens, there are times when I have to ask the hard question: what is being effected through my labors?  What am I making different?  I have to be careful how I measure my work, because the effort and the effect do not always line up.

So here is my question as we begin the work season: what is the effect of all your expended energy?  Better, and more to the point for us who follow Jesus: what is the spiritual effect of what you do?  Can you measure your contribution to life by how tired you are, or might there be a better and truer way to think about what you do?  I would suggest that the spiritual definition of our work is our effect on people, not our busyness.  And in this regard, I would suggest that the practice of prayer and worship are more deeply tied to the effect of our lives than meets the eye.

I am going to stop there but suggest that this is something I would like to talk more about over the course of this fall.  Meanwhile, we gather for worship this Sunday at 9:29 and 11:11.  The effect of our time together will indeed be significant.

An announcement:

KEVIN & HELEN JENKINS CELEBRATION

You are invited to celebrate Kevin’s recent appointment as the new Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International.  World Vision International is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.  Let’s surround Kevin and Helen with congratulations, prayer and best wishes as they accept this new challenge.

Date and Time: Thursday September 10th, 2009 - 7:30 pm

Place: Westside King’s Church - 3939 69 St SW, Calgary, AB

Dress: Casual

No RSVP necessary