November 11, 2015
The American workplace has changed. For the first time ever, five generations of Americans are working together, and it ain’t smooth. The workplace has become far more complex because when it comes to our views of work and money, each generation sees it very differently.
My parents who were Traditionalists (1901-1946), grew up on farms (75%), survived the Great War, the Great Depression, and WWII; after which came two decades of unparalleled American prosperity. The great middle class was born. They were thankful and patriotic, never forgetting how quickly it could all disappear. Their life’s goal was a stable, good paying, job-for-life that would give them a safe, secure retirement.
Their kids, the “Baby-Boomers” reaped the benefits of their parent’s prosperity. Never having experienced serious deprivation, we were obsessed with being successful. Upward mobility and doing better than you parents was the promise. We pursued every opportunity that promised higher pay and more prestige. Brand loyalty didn’t matter as much as personal advancement. We were willing to work extra hard to get ahead. We took credit debt to new, seen heights. Within Christianity, the prosperity gospel grew dramatically with its promise that God wants everyone to be wealthy and healthy.
Then 9/11 and the Great Recession brought a new reality. Savings evaporated as costs skyrocketed and the job market shrank. If you were lucky enough to find a job, pay was lower and advancement was slower. Today, Baby-Boomers aren’t ready to retire. Plus, the newest groups, the Gen X’ers and Millennial’s want more than a great income. They also want the sense that they are doing something important and significant; even great! They are willing to live with their parents until that right opportunity comes along.
But is any of this Biblical, or are we just imitating and reflecting the questionable values of our culture? As Christians are we arbitrarily separating our work from our worship, and in doing so missing both the divine design of our lives and the joy of serving God by working out our faith in the workplace?
The Bible tells us that work is not simply about money, prestige, career or security. As Max Lucado explains it, “With God, our work matters as much as our worship… work can be worship.” Tim Keller adds, work is “less about prosperity and finding personal fulfillment… and more about finding opportunities to serve God and other people through our work.”
Work is a place of opportunity to portray Christ in how we do our job and earn our money. Which probably means for most of us that we don’t need a new job with better pay and more fulfillment. Rather, we need a fresh attitude about the job we already have: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1Corinthians 10:31)
Give it a try. Make today, “Take Jesus to work day.” It will not only change your attitude but quite possibly your career. But more importantly, it will change the way those around you see Jesus in you!
Pastor Ken Ortize