Joy in Our Work
Monday is likely the most dreaded day of the week. And we all know why. It’s the day that crushes the anticipation of Friday, the joy of Saturday, and the restfulness of Sunday. It’s Monday when most of us return to work, or, at the very least, return to normal, regularly scheduled busyness. Monday is dreaded by most because most seem to dread their work. But does it have to be that way? Is there a way instead to find true and lasting joy in our labors, particularly in vocations that often include mundane demands and repetitive labor? Motherhood certainly fits that description, and although motherhood is not a job as we’ve come to define jobs (because it isn’t paid in dollars), it is work.
When my children were babies and infants, my everyday work looked the same every single day. But during the state of mothering that I’m currently in, my everyday work looks quite different each day. Yet, the basic tasks of keeping the home haven’t changed since my kids were younger. Laundry still needs to be done, dishes still need to be washed, food still needs to be served. Day after day after day—it’s all the same. If we aren’t watchful, it’s easy to begin longing for something different—and maybe new and exciting. Work, especially repetitive and mundane work, can be quite difficult. Those repetitive and mundane tasks can reinforce the feeling of dread that we so often have about our work.
The Bible has much to say about work, but I want to focus on two areas that can help motivate us specifically in the mundane and everyday labors of love that we mothers perform.
Work Is for the Lord
One of the first ways to fight our temptation to dread our work is to remember that work is ultimately for and about our creator God. We are told by the world that we must pursue work that is fulfilling and satisfying. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with loving your job or pursuing something that you are passionate about. But if that is all we are focused on, we can easily become disillusioned because work is difficult and affected by the fall. Instead, if we know that every dish washed and every load of laundry done and every diaper changed is for the Lord, isn’t that a much greater, more significant focus?
If we have children and a home, God has called us to shepherd our kids and care for our homes. When I’m focused on this work, it’s easy to think that I’m mostly serving my children and my husband, but as Paul has reminded us in Colossians: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23–24). This work of caring for children and home isn’t set apart from other work. Whatever we do, we are to do heartily, not primarily for our children, not primarily for our spouses, but for the Lord. And God graciously rewards us for our labors. We may not get paid in dollars and cents, but I imagine we won’t be concerned about that as we worship our Savior for eternity. What joy there will be on that day! Let this truth motivate you to find joy in your everyday work, knowing that God sees it and is pleased as you work for His glory. It is not worthless—there is great value and joy to be found in it.
If we are struggling to find joy or are disillusioned in our work, it’s likely that discontentment is lurking right under the surface.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” I’m grateful for all of the verses surrounding this one. Paul knew how to be brought low, and he also knew abundance. In all of Paul’s circumstances, comfort and strength came from the Lord (v. 13). So it must be with us. Paul never said he went through various trials and temptations and was naturally and always content. No, Paul learned to be content. God gives us a glimpse of progressive sanctification in the life of Paul. We can be encouraged that if we struggle with discontentment in the mundane, we can repent of this and begin to thank God for the work He has given to us. Contentment in what we do has to be learned; no one is naturally gifted to be content.
Work is hard. There is no doubt about it. So let us ask the Lord to give us eyes to see our work as work being done unto Him. As Christians, our lives are to be given away following the example of Christ. Let us ask our Lord to help us serve, work, and labor, knowing that Jesus, our perfect model, came to serve and not to be served (Matt. 20:28). As we reflect on what Christ has done, we find deep joy and purpose and value in modeling our lives after His. Work, even the most mundane work, has a purpose—to glorify God. That’s something to work for.