Help! My Job is Boring! Jordan Raynor
My job is boring... Does this work have any real point? Instead of aimlessly searching LinkedIn, Jordan Raynor offers an alternative solution on how to work with purpose! Could God value your work if it's not "in ministry"?
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!
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Bored at work? Jordan Raynor explores bringing purpose to your job. Could God value your work if it’s not “in ministry”?
Help! My Job is Boring! Jordan Raynor
Dave: So, we’re talking about work today, and I thought of this—
Ann: —I like this topic.
Dave: —and I’ve got a question for you.
Dave: Who is the hardest worker you’ve ever seen? They just work. You think of them—
Ann: —my mom.
Dave: You think of your mom?
Ann: You are a really hard worker.
Dave: No, I wasn’t looking for a compliment. [Laughter]
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.
Shelby: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: You know what I thought?
Dave: There is no one—
Ann: —that’s nice.
Dave: In any area of your life. I remember even when we were dating, and I’m like, “This girl does everything with everything she’s got.” You maybe got it from your mom.
Ann: Do you think that’s important to God?
Dave: Well, we’re going to find out today. [Laughter] We’ve got another guy in the studio.
Ann: He’s a worker.
Dave: You talk about a worker! I don’t even know if I can keep up with you, Jordan. It’s like you’re running at a ten second —what is a hundred-yard dash clip? Jordan Raynor is with us, back at FamilyLife Today.
Jordan: Dave and Ann, I’ll come hang out with you guys whenever you want. Let’s go.
Dave: That’s because you know we’re workers.
Jordan: I know you’re workers, expending energy, as Paul says, “contending with all the energy I have.” [Colossians 1:29]
Dave: Look at that. Come on. He’s just going right away.
Jordan: Come on. Right? We’re going for it.
Dave: He’s just going!
Ann: I love it. Jordan’s book is The Sacredness of Secular Work.
Dave: Come on, tell us what you were going to call it. [Laughter] That wasn’t your first title, was it?
Jordan: No, we were going to call it the Unabridged Gospel—
Dave: —which we’ll going to get into—
Jordan: —which ended up being the title of Chapter One of the book, but The Sacredness of Secular Work says exactly what this book is about—
Dave: —it does.
Jordan: —helping you, believer, as a stay-at-home parent, as a barista, as an entrepreneur, as a student-athlete, see the sacredness of your seemingly secular work. You know, we throw around these words a lot but don’t really define them. That word “secular” literally means “without God.”
Jordan: We believe, as followers of Jesus, that we have the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go, amen?
Jordan: The only thing you need to do to make your seemingly secular workplace sacred is walk through the front door or log onto Zoom. That’s it.
Ann: Isn’t this good?
Dave: That’s it.
Ann: I’m telling you that people are like—[“minds blown” sound]. Their minds are blown because, wait a minute—
Dave: Wait, do you know what you just did? You just created a viral moment. That right there: “Boom!” That’s going to be clipped out.
Jordan: Charles Spurgeon can do even better than Jordan Raynor. Listen to what Spurgeon says; Spurgeon said, “But to the man who lives unto God, nothing is secular”—
Jordan: —"and everything is sacred.” I think the more interesting question is: how does my sacred work I do, as a marketer or a tech executive or a mechanic, matter beyond the present, right? Other than glorifying God and loving my neighbor as myself, how does it matter for eternity? And that’s what this book is about: how your work matters for eternity even when you're not “sharing the gospel.”
Dave: Yeah, that’s your subtitle: Four Ways Your Job Matters for Eternity (Even When You’re Not Sharing the Gospel). So, that catches you because you're like, “Wait, wait, wait, I thought that’s why I work, to share the gospel. And when I’m not sharing the gospel, I’m not really working.” Here’s the thing: we’re sitting on the campus that Bill Bright, the man who helped write the Four Spiritual Laws—you talk about an evangelist!
Ann: —who is all about the Great Commission—
Dave: Oh, yes. And so, for you to say, “Wait, wait, wait! The Great Commission may not be the only commission.” Explain that, because we’ve got to talk about this.
Jordan: I realize I’m probably not being invited back, okay?
Ann: Oh, come on. Let’s remind our listeners, what is the Great Commission?
Jordan: Okay, great. [In] Matthew 28, before His ascension, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you to do.” Okay? And before I get into the problems of making the Great Commission the only commission, let me state this as clearly as I can: the Great Commission is indeed great. It is a non-optional command for every single follower of Jesus. It’s just not the only commission God gave us, and there is great danger in treating it as such. And, by the way, this idea that pastors have been peddling for decades now—
Dave: —be careful, be careful.
Jordan: I know, I know, I know. Hey, we aren’t holding back punches here!
—is brand new in church history. Prior to 200-300 years ago, nobody interpreted Matthew 28:19-20 as the exclusive, or even primary, mission of followers of Jesus Christ. And that term “Great Commission” isn’t even a part of the biblical manuscripts.
Jordan: It’s a man-made heading that Hudson Taylor invented to recruit people to move to China as missionaries.
Ann: Wait. I didn’t know that.
Ann: Hudson Taylor?
Jordan: The first time the term “Great Commission” shows up in print is somewhere around the 1800s when Hudson Taylor invented this as a marketing slogan to recruit people to move to China. The term “Great Commission” is not a part of the inerrant word of God. It’s the catchiest marketing slogan of the modern missions movement. Now, the command itself, again—absolute non-optional command for every follower of Jesus.
Dave: And very important, because it’s His last words.
Jordan: That’s exactly right.
Dave: I mean, He’s saying it at a pretty important moment of His life. If you're dying—you know He’s coming back, but He hasn’t come back since; so, of course, He’s going to say something very, very critical.
Jordan: That’s exactly right. We’ve got to pay attention to this text, but His last words, contrary to how many people interpret this, is not “make disciples,” it’s “make disciples and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you to do.”
Ann: So, that’s the last.
Jordan: That’s the last. Not just the command to “win souls.” And ironically, when we treat the Great Commission as the only commission, we become less effective at the Great Commission because it makes Christians in the pews feel guilty about going into the very workplaces and schools and communities [where they’re] most likely to make disciples in our post-Christian context.
We are living at a time where people are less likely than ever before to darken the door of a church to learn about Jesus for the first time. Entire countries are closing their doors to Christian missionaries, so where in the world are they going to hear the good news of Jesus Christ? Through you, stay-at-home mom, hanging out with your kids at the playground. Through you, busy executive, working shoulder-to-shoulder with other non-believers Monday through Friday.
Dave: Tell me this: when you were at the White House (yes, folks, he worked at the White House), did you have this perspective as you walked in every day?
Jordan: No, no. I did not have this perspective when I was in politics. I did not have this perspective when I spent the first few years of my career as a tech entrepreneur. I remember going to church, on many Sundays, sitting in the pews feeling like a second-class Christian—
Dave and Ann: Hmmm.
Jordan: —because the Great Commission is the only commission. We’ve neglected the—I never heard anyone preach on the first commission of Genesis 1, to make culture, that God never once retracts. And so, when all I heard in the pulpit was the Great Commission. When the only people I saw on the platform of my church were pastors and religious professionals and full-time missionaries, it inevitably led me, as a mere Christian, to feel “less than,” to feel like I was on the junior varsity team—
Jordan: —of team Jesus. Here’s what happened when I discovered that God cared about all my work: I became fully alive for the first time in my life.
Understanding that God cares about 100 percent of my time at work and not just the one percent of my time that I spent on exclusively “spiritual tasks,” made me come fully alive. And guess what? Fully alive people attract the lost like honey attracts bees. [Laughter] We do not need half-hearted Christians running around this world; we need Christians who understand that God cares about everything you do at work—spiritual and material tasks—and because of that, we are awakened to this new life, we have more enthusiasm and energy for the work that we do, because we know that God is potentially smiling on every action, and that is what’s going to win a watching world to Jesus Christ.
Ann: Jordan, we’ve had you on before. You're a great communicator, you're an author; you speak around the country. When you said, “before I learned it” and “then when I learned it;” take us back to that, take us back to when you discovered that.
Jordan: Yes, I’ll never forget it. The origins of this happened after I was exiting my second company. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next professionally. And when you sell two companies, the natural thing is, you know, are you going to start a third? So, that was plan A: go start another business. But I didn’t feel the biblical freedom and permission to start another business. I felt like, if I were really serious about Jesus, I would move to a mud hut 5,000 miles away from home. I would go plant a church. And, so, for a hot minute there, my wife and I were very seriously praying about planting a church. We had these two paths: starting up the business, planting a church. What are we going to do?
Dave: Secular or—
Jordan: —secular or sacred. That’s exactly how I thought about it.
Dave: Not Great Commission, Great Commission.
Jordan: That’s exactly right. And by God’s grace alone, I had this very godly mentor pull me aside after church one Sunday. He said, “Hey, I hear you're thinking about planting a church.” And I’m thinking this guy is going to pat me on the back, maybe write me my first check to get this church started. He just looks at me square in the eyes, and he’s like, “Yeah, I’ve got to be honest. That sounds really dumb for you. That sounds really dumb.” [Laughter]
I was like, “Rick, what the heck are you talking about?” He said, “Jordan, you're a talented entrepreneur. You have served your customers and your investors and your team with excellence. You're fully alive as you do this work. Why do you think you have to plant a church in order to do ministry? Don’t you get that your work as an entrepreneur is ministry?”
And I looked at this guy like he had three heads. I was like, “I literally have no framework for what you are talking about right now.” So, he encouraged me and said, “Hey, listen. In light of this conversation, I want you to go back to your Bible. I want you to read Genesis 1 and 2.” I’m like, “Read Genesis 1 and 2? I’ve read Genesis 1 and 2 500 times.” He’s like, “Do it.”
And what I saw changed my life forever. I saw that, before God tells us that He is holy or loving or just or omnipotent, He tells us that He is a God who works. “Created” is the first verb in the Bible. “In the beginning God created,” and then, long before the Great Commission, God gives humankind the first commission in Genesis 1:26-28, that He never ever retracts: “to fill the earth, to subdue it and rule it” for His glory and the good of others; and that changed my life.
Christians today have a dual vocation: the Great Commission, to make disciples, and the first commission, to make culture and simply make this world more useful for other human beings' benefit and enjoyment, right? The big “aha” moment for readers, though, is [that] God cares about the spiritual and the material world. He cares about souls that we’re saving through the Holy Spirit and the Great Commission, but He also cares about us typing on these Macbooks and sitting at this table because He called all of His creation “good” in the beginning. Jesus’ blood paid to redeem every square inch of God’s good creation that Satan broke in Genesis 3.
And, if you want any evidence for the intrinsic value of our work to God, look ahead to eternity. Scripture makes it crystal clear that eternity is not some endless Hillsong worship service, right? [Laughter] We will be worshiping through song, but Isaiah 65 says we will also worship by long enjoying the work of our hands on the new earth. We will not labor in vain. So, if God Himself works, and created us to work in the beginning; if Jesus has redeemed us for good works [Ephesians 2:10], and if we are going to be working for eternity on the new earth, clearly my labor in the Lord must matter greatly to the Lord in the present.
Dave: I mean, that’s—part of me wants to jump off this chair and go work. I mean, we’re working right now but, as pastors, when I do sermons at my church every year on work—I never taught it as well as you’re teaching it. It is a revolutionary thought that sets people free.
Jordan: That’s exactly it. Free; it’s freedom.
Jordan: Publishers always like to ask, “What’s the core benefit to the reader?”
Jordan: Freedom. Permission to lean into the work you are doing right now, not in the future—as an artist, as a barista, as a maker, as a mechanic, as a landscaper, whatever—as the very thing that God created you to do and redeemed you to do, showing you the sacredness of that secular work. Paul writes about this. I think it’s in 1 Corinthians 7 where he’s addressing a group of new believers, and they’re like, “Hey, do we change jobs? Do we marry, unmarry? What do we do? Do we change everything?”
He [says], “Hey, stay in the position you were in when you were called.” Why? Because all good work can glorify God. All good work has the potential to matter for eternity. Embrace your seemingly secular work. Change your relationship to that work. It’s no longer about you. It’s no longer about your fame. It’s no longer about your fortune. But embrace it as a primary means of glorifying God and loving your neighbor in the present. And, oh, by the way, shaping the eternal kingdom of God.
Ann: Jordan, I think people are going to [think], “I need to listen to this every single day before I go to work to remind me.” But what about—I mean, there’s a majority of people that hate what they are doing?
Ann: Like, “I hate my job. I’m not doing what I want to do. How do I make that a spiritual time for me?”
Jordan: Oh, man. This is so good. So, number one, take encouragement that this is not what God intended. Work was not a punishment for sin. Work existed prior to the Fall. Work is cursed because of sin but is not itself the curse. So, that’s number one. This is not how God originally designed work to be; I should say it that way. Two, there’s a day coming when you will long enjoy the work of your hands. Nobody will spend eternity in heaven; nobody. Heaven is coming to earth. Jesus did not promise that we are going to—we sing this every Christmas, “fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” He promised heaven on earth and to dwell with us here. [Revelation 21]
Ann: And some people just thought, “Well, that’s depressing, because this place isn’t that great.”
Jordan: That’s right.
Jordan: —but on a new earth that is perfect and pure and free from all injustice and all ugliness and all smog and all natural disasters? That’s great. And work that you know in your bones you were made to do, but for whatever reason in this life (economic realities, caring for a sick loved one) you couldn’t do, it is perfectly within God’s character to give you that vocation, that thing you always dreamed about doing, for eternity on the new earth.
But let’s bring it down to today, right? “I don’t love my job. What do I do? How do I maximize it for eternal impact?” I’ll say two things: one, this is the context of Colossians 3:23-24. Paul’s talking to slaves—
Ann: —it’s one of my life’s verses.
Jordan: —it says, “work heartily as unto the Lord,” slaves and servants, knowing that there’s an eternal reward coming for you, right? So that’s number one. And number two, especially if you hate your job. but even if you love it, make sure you are doing your work with God and not just for Him, right?
We go to work, and we believe that God needs us. God doesn’t need you and I to do anything. He doesn’t need us. He wants us, and part of our response to that is just to welcome His presence as we go about our workday, to talk to Him in between meetings, to seek His Word as we’re at work, and to do that work with Him as a response of worship. And when we do that, we are bringing Him eternal pleasure. Especially if we’re in a job we don’t love because that is an act of sacrifice and worship.
Ann: Give us an example of what that could look like.
Jordan: Ok, great. I love this. One of my friends (who I write about in the book) had an internship at Hilton®. She’s at this big corporation. She’s like, “Man, I want to do my work with God. What does that look like?” So, she created an email address, and throughout her day, when she felt disconnected from the Lord, she would shoot an email, as if she were emailing God from the same platform that she’d be emailing her co-workers.
When she felt attacked or tempted to take shortcuts at work and disobey God’s commands, she would send an email and pray and ask God for His favor and presence in the present. So, that’s one way to do it. To practically do your work with God. There’s a bunch of others in the book. I’ll give you one for me: any time I pass through a doorway, I try to remember that God is with me wherever I go. I’ve just attached a reminder of His presence—
Dave: —it’s a visual.
Jordan: —with a threshold around a door. When I walked in here, it was a subtle reminder that God is with me here, right? I’m doing this, and I’m doing all of life, and I’m doing all of work for Him. He is very present with me in this moment. That brings me peace and also helps me remember how to do my work “as unto the Lord” and not for the ways of man.
Dave: Early in my tenure as a chaplain in the NFL with the Detroit Lions (that I’ve never mentioned here on FamilyLife Today)—[Laughter]
Dave: You’ve never heard this. –but it would have been mid-eighties. There was a belief among many coaches in the NFL that sort of got out there, and there was once an article in Seattle about it that “you don’t want Christian ball players in your locker room, because they care so much about God that they don’t care about football.”
So, “they're good people, but God’s their number one priority, so they don’t play as hard,” and when you lose and some player [makes] a comment after the game, “Well, it’s God’s will we lost.” And coach is like, “Get that guy out of there!” I remember I did a chapel, and I came up with three “I’s.” Tell me if this works.
Dave: This is how Christians should work: intensity should be, it’s Colossians 3 —
Dave: —with all your heart.
Dave: You don’t show up late. You bring everything you’ve got every day, because you’re not working for a boss or a GM, you’re working for God.
Secondly, integrity. Your word is your bond. You can be trusted. You’re not going to gossip. You’re not going to slander. You’ve got a problem, you're going to go to people. So, there’s this integrity part.
And then the third one—I’m sure there are 15, but I had three—intensity, integrity and the third one was intentionality. You're working with intentionality. I’m hoping that the way I work draws attention not to me, not just because I am a Christian, but because I am such a hard worker that people are noticing I do this with excellence. I study. I prepare. And when they ask me, “Why do you work that way?” I’m intentional and say, “Well, I’ll have to tell you, my boss is Jesus Christ, and this is how I think everyone should work.” What do you think of that?
Jordan: That’s exactly right.
Ann: I like it. You should be a pastor.
Jordan: I think you should. I spend 80% of this book, The Sacredness of Secular Work, talking about how our work matters beyond the Great Commission.
Jordan: But the last 20% is, by the way, “the Great Commission is also important, we’ve got to get good at it.” How do we get good at it in a post-Christian context without leaving tacky tracts in the bathroom. Number one, pray. Number two on my list of seven things: be so good they can’t ignore you.
Dave: Yes, I read that. That was awesome.
Ann: That was so good.
Jordan: Mastery is winsome, not mediocrity. When your employer only cares, largely, about your ability to make her money, mastery will preach every single day. It enables you to, as Paul says, “win the respect of outsiders.” [1 Thessalonians 4:12] But without that, it’s going to be really, really hard for people to take you, or the God you say you glorify and image, very seriously.
Shelby: Wow. That’s really great stuff. You’re going to hear more from Ann and Jordan here in just a second, but I, for one, am super convicted to be very intentional about how I do everything to the glory of God so others can see how great the God I serve is. Really good stuff.
I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jordan Raynor on FamilyLife Today. Jordan’s written a book called The Sacredness of Secular Work. It really challenges the common perception that people who are in full-time ministry are the ones that hold eternal value. And really, the everyday aspect of work, everything that you do from the main stuff to the “important” stuff is profoundly meaningful in the eyes of God. He talks about that in his book.
You can go online to pick up a copy at FamilyLIfeToday.com or click on the “Today’s Resources” link in the show notes. Or you could just give us a call. Our number is 800-358-6329; again, that is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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Alright, let’s hear just a little bit more about how to apply what we’ve learned today from Jordan Raynor.
Ann: Jordan, we’re out of time. Give us some homework for our day with you and then, we’ll continue this conversation tomorrow.
Jordan: Here’s what I would give you. Go back to Genesis 1:26-28. Read the first commission and find your place in your current job in that first commission. There are four commands to this. Number one, be fruitful and increase in number; essentially, procreate. Number two, fill the earth; essentially, create good things, not just good people, but good culture. Three is this command to rule; to partner with God in ruling this world for His glory. And then, number four: subdue, which Wayne Grudem says is simply to make this world more useful for other human beings' benefit and enjoyment.
Take out a pen and paper, and write down which of those four elements of the first commission best represents the job you do today; and then, number two, in response to that, write out what it means to you that that’s the very thing that God created for you to do from chapter one of this story. How does that shape your perspective where we sit today in this current scene of redemptive history?
Shelby: Do you know that 80% of conversions in early Christianity happened in the context of everyday work? Well tomorrow, Jordan Raynor is back with Dave and Ann Wilson to challenge your common perceptions about evangelism. 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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