Does God Care about My Job? Jordan Raynor
Can your regular job impact eternity? If you're uncertain about whether your job aligns with your spiritual values and God's plan for your life, Jordan Raynor shares ways to make your work meaningful in everyday tasks and explores if God truly cares about what you do from an eternal perspective.
About the Guest
- Connect with Jordan Raynor and catch more of their thoughts at jordanraynor.com or to his podcasts Mere Christian and the Word Before Work .
- And grab Jordan Raynor's book, The Sacredness of Secular Work: 4 Ways Your Job Matters for Eternity (Even When You're Not Sharing the Gospel) in our shop!
- Intrigued by today's episode? Think deeper about Faith in the Workplace in our FamilyLife Today episode, Faith in the workplace?
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Can your job impact eternity? Jordan Raynor explores making work meaningful. Does God truly care?
Does God Care about My Job? Jordan Raynor
Jordan: We have got to value the things that God values as judged by what Christ’s blood redeemed on the cross. He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. All of it is spiritual and material. It matters to God; it matters for eternity.
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Ann: This is FamilyLife—
Dave and Ann: —Today!
Dave: I’ve got a verse from the Bible that almost everybody I know quotes often.
Ann: There are a lot of them that could be.
Dave: Jeremiah 29—
Ann: “For I know the plans [I have for you], declares the Lord, plans to prosper—"
Dave: “—to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11] What most people don’t know is the context. You know, I’m a big context guy.
Ann: I know this is one of your pet peeves.
Dave: You can’t just take something and preach it without—you go back to verse five, actually verse four, [and] it says, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says to all those that I carried from into exile from Jerusalem into Babylon.” [Jeremiah 29:4]
Listen to this:
“Build houses [and] settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” [Jeremiah 29:5-7a]
Ann: Why are you bringing this up?
Dave: Think about it. You think it’s just about God want[ing] to prosper us in the spiritual? He says, “No.” This is in the context of work. “Just do your work well and impact the city wherever I have placed you. Increase your family; have a legacy that changes a city.”
It’s all about what a lot of [people] would call secular work that doesn’t matter to God. He says, “No, this really matters, and in that, I’m going to prosper you.”
I’m saying this because we’ve got Jordan Raynor sitting over there. His head is nodding up and down because this is his life passion, to help us understand—how about this—The Sacredness of Our Secular Work. That could be a title.
Jordan: It sounds like a great title.
Dave: That is the title. [Laughter]
Jordan: Wait! What?
Dave: That’s the title of your last book, which is number what? How many books?
Jordan: I don’t know. We’ve lost track—five, six; something like that.
Dave: You’ve got five or six in your mind right now.
Jordan: I know. It’s crazy.
Dave: That’s awesome.
Ann: You have children’s books, as well, on this topic. I feel like if you want to disciple your kids and give them a dream of what their lives can be, get Jordan’s books because they’re beautifully done, and I’ve read them so many times to our grandkids.
Jordan: —picture books for kids and parents.
Ann: Yes, that’s it, Jordan. You’re right. Your subtitle is Four Ways Your Job Matters for Eternity (Even When You're Not Sharing the Gospel), which is very compelling.
Yesterday, how many ways did we talk?
Jordan: I think we hit on one: “Bringing God Pleasure.” I think that was about it.
Ann: I do, too.
Dave: But even as you hear Jeremiah 29:11, which is quoted all the time and often out of context, it really wasn’t even written to you and me.
Jordan: Correct. That’s exactly right. [Laughter]
Dave: I can see how people can make implications, but it really wasn’t written to us about, “He’s just going to bless you because you’re a Christ follower.”
Ann: That’s kind of sad.
Dave: It was written in the context of work.
Ann: I really like that verse, and now it’s a bummer.
Dave: I’m not saying it’s a bummer. [Laughter]
Jordan: But to your point, Dave—and I love that you read verses five through seven, because—Jesus prayed a very similar prayer for His followers in the Garden of Gethsemane right before His crucifixion. He said, “My prayer is not that You would take them out of the world, but that you would protect them from the evil one.” [John 17:15]
In other words, Christ followers are not called to isolate and retreat from the world and only work for Christian employers and only watch Christian films. We are called to insulate through God’s Word and the local church so we can go out into the world like Christ did in “secular” workplaces, in “secular” corners of culture, to seek and save the lost and redeem all of creation.
We were talking about this yesterday. There’s this myth—this lie—running around the church that Jesus came just to save the spiritual world. He came to make all things new. He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. What that means practically for us day to day is, because Jesus’s blood paid the price for the spiritual world and the material world, the sacred world and the secular world, our work with the material world, our work with the secular world, as people indwelled with the Holy Spirit must matter greatly to God.
So, settle down and build cities, build houses, plant vineyards for the flourishing of the world that Christ has called us to reach.
Dave: In some ways (like you said yesterday), in doing that, you’re fulfilling the Great Commission.
Jordan: You’re fulfilling the Great Commission and the first commission of Genesis 1, to make culture. That’s exactly right.
Dave: We didn’t talk about this yesterday, but talk to us about the word, “Go”—
Dave: —“Go make disciples.”
Jordan: “Let’s go.”
Dave: Because it’s actually a participle; it’s an -ing word. What are the implications of that?
Jordan: Most translations we hear of Matthey 28:19 are, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” “Go” sounds like the command, but in the original Greek, that word, “go” is not the command. It’s called, to get really nerdy for a second, an aorist tense passive participle.
Dave: There you go.
Jordan: A much more accurate translation of this text is “As you are going, make disciples.” The going was assumed.
By the way, Jesus didn’t go more than 200 miles away from His hometown, and He’s the greatest disciple maker of all time. The same will be true for you and me if we understand this call to make disciples as we’re going about what. The first commission, the thing God created us to do in the beginning: to simply make this world more useful for other human beings benefit and enjoyment.
The Great Commission is not something just to be obeyed on a short-term mission trip; it’s not just something for the missionary on your refrigerator to obey. The Great Commission is a non-optional command for every single follower of Jesus Christ. In this post-Christian moment, we’re going to be most effective at that Great Commission as we go about the first commission of creating culture.
We touched on this yesterday; but listen to this statistic from Tim Keller. Keller found that 80 percent or more of evangelism—in the first few centuries of Christianity, when Christianity exploded around the world—80 percent of conversions happened, not from pastors and religious professionals, but mere Christians going to work every single day as shepherds and homemakers and working in market stalls.
The same is going to be true in this cultural moment where people are less likely than ever to darken the door of a church.
Dave: That is such a big-time identity shift.
Ann: And motivation.
Dave: When you hear the Great Commission and the word is just “go,” you get the idea, “I’ve got to stop what I’m doing, and I’ve got to go.”
Jordan: This is what pastors are telling their congregations explicitly.
Dave: “I’ve got to go to a hut in Africa. I’ve got to go as a missionary.”
Jordan: “You pray, go, give.” No option of a fourth commandment to stay and do the Great Commission right where you are today.
Ann: Jordan, this is—I feel like, as I read your book and all of your books, my mind is always blown, because there are new thoughts that I’ve never had as we’re talking about ways to honor God through our work. Here’s another one: you said, “Your work matters for eternity because it is largely through your work that you earn eternal rewards.”
Jordan: We’re going to open up this can of worms?
Ann: When I read that the first time I [thought], “Wait, wait, wait, wait! What? ‘…through our work,’ just our secular work we can gain—"
Dave: —don’t call it secular. [Laughter]
Jordan: Just seemingly secular, quote/unquote.
Ann: —seemingly secular work, we can earn eternal rewards?
Ann: People are thinking, “I need this motivation.”
Jordan: It’s absurd that God would give us anything other than His Son. It’s absurd that He would give us His Son, that He would give us eternal life. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus is motivating His followers: “I’ve redeemed you and, by the way, I’m going to give you all this other stuff: treasures in heaven, increased job responsibilities on the New Earth—” That’s the application of the Parable of the Minas, right? “—crowns, treasures,” whatever.
But there’s a false piety in the church today that says that it’s wrong to be motivated by these eternal rewards. We shouldn’t be motivated to give to our church so that we’ll have eternal rewards. That’s bringing a very serious accusation against Jesus Christ, because over and over and over and over and over and over again, He said, “I want you to be motivated by these eternal rewards.”
I think the rub is, we don’t understand that these rewards are almost always tied to sacrifice in the present. We are giving up something now to get something infinitely better for eternity. Jesus wants us to be motivated by those rewards because they spur us on to do the good works that God gave us to do and give God greater glory as we spend this life rather than save it.
Ann: Isn’t that exciting? I think most people think, “I go to work. God doesn’t notice. It has no benefit now or for eternity because I’m just grinding it out.” You’re saying the opposite of that. “God does notice; He notices everything, and you will benefit because of eternal rewards.”
Jordan: He will repay everyone for whatever good [they] do; Ephesians 6:8.
Ann: That’s what I was going to say. Back that up with Scripture.
Jordan: Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:23-24. I think I cite 25 passages of Scripture, in the book, of Jesus or the New Testament writers motivating Christ followers by these eternal rewards.
There are lots of them. We talked about treasures; we talked about crowns. There are increased job responsibilities on the New Earth based on how we steward this life. Isaiah 60 points to this mind-boggling eternal reward of our work today literally and physically lasting onto the New Earth; see also 1 Corinthians 3 and Revelation 21:26.
Ann: Dude knows his Scripture.
Jordan: These are mind-boggling promises. These are mind-boggling rewards; but for some reason, Christians today feel guilty about obeying Jesus’s commands to chase after them. This is insane to me. This is one of the primary, one of the most concrete, ways our work matters for eternity. It is a primary vehicle through which God will judge and reward our work.
I’ve got to say this crystal clearly: if you are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sin, your entrance (my entrance) into the kingdom of Heaven is perfectly secure through Christ’s work alone [see Ephesians 2:8-9]. Nothing we do in this life determines anything about where we’re going to spend eternity.
But while we will all show up in the same place because of Christ’s grace, we will not all show up there equally. We will not all experience the same level of eternal rewards because Scripture makes it clear that those rewards vary greatly based on how we steward and live this life right now.
Ann: I remember being a young mom cleaning the bathrooms with three young boys.
Dave: —really four boys.
Ann: Okay, kind of. But I can remember thinking, “This is drudgery.” But then I’d have this little thought: “But this matters to God.” I was just trying to motivate myself. I don’t think I really believed it. There was a part of me saying, “This is a kind of a worship experience to God because of what I’m doing.” You’re saying it really does matter. The most menial tasks matter to God.
Jordan: First John—I’m going to forget the exact reference that says we bring God pleasure when we obey His commands. One of those commands is to work heartily as unto the Lord [see Colossians 3]. Other commands: to pray while in secret. Can you do that when you’re cleaning a toilet? [Laughter]
Ann: That’s some of my best prayer time.
Jordan: Exactly. Can you do that when you’re leading a meeting? Of course, you can. When we do those things in accordance with His commands, He sees those things, He takes delight in us doing whatever it is, spiritual or material, at work. All of those things are ingredients to His eternal pleasure, and all of those things have the potential of accumulating, for ourselves and for Christ’s greater glory, these eternal rewards.
But we have fallen for this lie that spiritual tasks matter to God; material tasks do not. If that’s true [then], “Yes, most of your time at work doesn’t matter.” But the story arch of Scripture is that God created the entire world, spiritual and material, and called it very good.
Satan broke every square inch of that good creation in Genesis 3, spiritual and material. It’s not just our souls that need to be redeemed, but the entire material world. At the resurrection, Jesus crushed Satan’s head in total and indisputable victory, winning back everything that was broken in Genesis 3, spiritual and material.
So, I can be confident that God cares about my work with the spiritual—sharing the gospel, praising Him in song—and the material of cleaning a toilet, because Christ’s blood paid to redeem it all. We have got to value the things that God values as judged by what Christ’s blood redeemed on the cross. He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. All of it, spiritual and material, and our work with the spiritual and material, matters to God; it matters for eternity.
Ann: As we were talking about how our work honors God, here’s another one: this is—you’re getting into this right now.
Dave: She’s reciting back what you already heard.
Ann: I know, but I’d like to hear what he says about it. You’re saying your work matters for eternity because through it, you can scratch off the veil between heaven and earth, revealing glimpses of the kingdom of God in the present. You’re saying that here on the earth now we are, and we do have, glimpses of God—
Jordan: I think we do—
Ann: —right now.
Jordan: —100 percent.
Ann: What do you mean by “scratching off the veil”?
Jordan: [In] Second Kings, Elisha is hunkered down. It’s him and his servant. They think they’re going to be obliterated. Elisha prays, “Open up his eyes.” [2 Kings 6:17, Paraphrased]
Ann: Is this one of your favorites? It’s one of my favorites.
Jordan: I love this scene. We think of heaven as this distant place, way off in the future. Heaven is right next to us right now. It’s God’s dimension that intersects our own dimension of earth. The scratch off picture—I actually got it from my kids. Did your boys ever have these black scratch offs that left residue all over the house.
Ann: We had them.
Jordan: I’m not talking about gambling scratch offs. Please don’t send me your angry emails. But at first glance, these scratch offs look like a dull black piece of paper. But when you take a stylus and you rub it over this black surface, the surface fades away and it reveals a beautiful picture on the other side.
That is a picture of what I believe our lives and our work can do. When we work in line with the core values of the Kingdom of God; when we work to make this world more beautiful, more just, more loving—all these attributes that Scripture makes clear are part of the eternal Kingdome of God, we are scratching off glimpses, giving people a little taste, if you will, of what will one day be all in all.
That work is intrinsically valuable in and of itself, but it also leads others to want to meet our King of this Kingdom that we are revealing as we go about this work of scratching off glimpses of the kingdom. [Laughter]
Ann: I like that. That’s a good word picture.
Dave: I think—one of the things you just said; I think—a follower of Christ walking into a workplace, whatever that is, should always be mindful that all eyes are on you. That motivation and perspective shaped me so much that I believed that in everything I did.
I’ll never forget my first year in Detroit; I didn’t know anybody. Somehow, I met a guy, and he said, “We play pick up basketball on Tuesday nights.” I go play, and I felt like even as a guy playing pick-up basketball, you honor Christ [by] how you play. You’re not arguing about fouls; you’re not being a jerk; or all the stuff that you do to honor Christ.
I remember I sat down to take off my shoes to put on my street shoes. This guy sits down beside me and said, “Hey man, what’s different about you?” I’ll never forget this. I said, “What?” He said, “What’s different about you?”
I said, “By the way, my name’s Dave. Who are you?” [Laughter] He said, “I’m Paul. I’ve been watching you all night. You’re different.”
I said, “Is it my jump shot? What are you talking about?”
He said, “No, your attitude.” He said, “There’s something different about you.”
I said, “Come over to my house.” He ended up coming to our house. I led him to Christ on the couch in our family room.
Jordan: That’s awesome.
Dave: It all started watching somebody honor Christ in an athletic pick-up game that meant nothing. “Who cares?” But it did matter.
Ann: I was just thinking, Dave; you said people are watching. Jordan, as you’re talking, I’m thinking, “No, in the spiritual realm people are watching.” If the veil is so thin—
Dave: “Great crowd of witnesses—” [Hebrews 12:1, Paraphrased]
Ann: —that we’re in the midst of and is only this veil separating us from the spiritual realm, then all eyes are on us and what we do, and it really does matter. All of it matters.
Jordan: Once I understand that there is no ground that I step on with the Holy Spirit that is secular [and] that all of it is sacred, now I’m thinking about what I’m doing in those spaces totally differently, because I understand that God cares about what I do in all of those spaces, right? Because if God just cares about saving souls, then that basketball court doesn’t matter, unless of course it leads to a chance of to talk to Paul. But if He also cares about how I obey Him and how I dribble a basketball and shoot and engage with my teammates, if He cares about all that—
Dave: —my tongue—
Jordan: —exactly. Now all of it matters. All of it matters, and my only logical response is to submit all of my work—not just spiritual things, all of it—to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and do that with joy for His glory and the good of others.
Ann: Here’s a simple, practical question—you have three daughters, you’re married: how do we motivate our kids with this? Because if this matters, then school also matters—
Ann: —and learning and education matter. How do you do that? You’ve written [children’s] books. As parents, how can we begin teaching this to our kids?
Jordan: I think we’ve got to be telling them God’s good story about work because the stories they hear from the world are that work is bad, work is a meaningless means to an end, [and] you should try to work as little as possible so that you can live a life of leisure as much as possible.
Dave: “Take this job and shove it.”
Jordan: That’s right. That is not the biblical narrative. Practically, what does that look like? Go read Genesis 1 to your kids. Go read Ephesians 2.
Ann: Or get Jordan’s book.
Jordan: There you go. Get The Creator in You. [In] Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul says, “We have been saved by grace through faith, and this is not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, so that nobody can boast.” We usually stop, at our churches, at verse nine. Verse ten is critical. He says, “You haven’t been saved by works, but you have been saved for the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I’m pointing to passages like Revelation 22:5, where it says that we will reign forever and ever with Christ just as we were meant to do in the first chapter of Genesis, and helping them see God’s very, very good story for their work, their lives, and, yes, the homework they do Monday through Friday, right now in the present.
Dave: As a parent, when you’re looking at the gifts that God has given your kids, you start celebrating and casting vision for them saying, “You’re really good with numbers.” Or our oldest, “You’re technically minded. I can’t even understand this stuff. I wonder what God’s going to do with that someday in a work environment?” rather than, “I wonder what God’s going to do with that on the mission field?” You say, “The mission field is your work environment.” It may be that He calls you to the mission field. That’s a vocational—
Jordan: —we need that.
Dave: But it may be giving them a vision for, “God has made you to do this in a work environment that’s going to be your evangelism.”
Jordan: That’s exactly right.
Shelby: We’ll hear more practical encouragement from Jordan Raynor in just a second, but it’s important to remember exactly what Jordan and Dave were just talking about: that wherever God has placed you is the environment where He wants to use you. Evangelism doesn’t have to be this burden. It’s a privilege of being used by God.
I’ve asked this question before: “Who am I that the God of the universe would choose to use me to bring others to Himself?” Maybe we should ask that: “Who are we that God would use us?” It’s amazing.
I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jordan Raynor on FamilyLife Today. Jordan has written a book called The Sacredness of Secular Work. It really helps to challenge the common misperceptions that a lot of people have when it comes to their work. They think, “Sharing the gospel is just for the quote/unquote professional Christians.” That’s not true, and this book talks about how you can be used by God, practically, where He’s placed you in your working environment.
You can go online to pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can click on the “Today’s Resources” link in the show notes. Or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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I’m an application kind of guy, so here’s some practical application on what we’ve heard today from Jordan Raynor:
Jordan: Really practically, what does this look like? Put them in touch with other Christ followers in your local body of believers (and I pray you’re in a local body of believers, my friend). Point them to other Christ followers who are following Jesus seriously in quote/unquote secular workplaces.
Show them a vision—a three-dimensional model—of, “What does it look like for Miss Bethany to be a killer CEO of a company and do her work distinctly as unto the Lord? What does it look like for Mr. Justin who plays professional football to do that and glorify God on the football field? What does it look like for Miss Katie and Mr. Josh to glorify God as missionary pilots in Papua, New Guinea?” Because all of that—they need to see the full menu of options of how God can use how He’s uniquely wired them—your specific child—for His glory and the good of others.
Shelby: What are some ways to help your kids catch a vision for meaningful work? Ever wonder about that? Jordan Raynor is here again tomorrow with Dave and Ann to talk about that and being a purposeful parent. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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