David Pressgrove: Serving, not working, can cure our case of the ‘Mondays’
January 17, 2013
"Looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays."
— The annoying, nameless, secretary in the movie "Office Space."
The above quote changed my path in life.
"Office Space" is about three men who work for a computer software company and they hate their jobs so much they decide to rip off the company they work for.
I went to school to with the dream of writing scripts for commercials. When I saw how miserable the characters were in their cubical job, I decided I didn't want to be in a cubical the rest of my life and sought a different career path.
What comes to mind when you think of your Monday morning? A "case of the Mondays" in Office Space represented an attitude of hatred toward being at work after the weekend.
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Would that define your thoughts toward work?
If you profess to be a Christian, your "theology of work" should not conjure up pain and dread, but a call to honor and serve. Yet, it seems that "the world" is increasingly influencing our outlook on work.
By that I mean that we tend to live in a culture that removes spiritual aspects from everyday life. Separation of church and state seemingly grows more polarized all the time.
The 21st century understanding is "Church can have Sunday (or half of Sunday during the NFL season), but has no place the rest of the week."
I first took notice of this the summer after my junior year of college. That summer I applied to several newspapers for an internship, and in my resume I mentioned my faith.
The editor who hired me was a former priest and was still very involved in a faith community. At the end of the summer he told me: "Son, when you apply to your next job, you might not want to be so open about your faith. Don't tell them, just show them."
I was reminded of that conversation when I recently listened to a message delivered by Timothy Keller, Christian author and pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Keller's message was titled "Our Work and Our Character."
Keller built an argument that both Jesus and Paul encouraged Christ followers to carry their faith into their professions whether they were at the lowest position (Paul's encouragement to slaves to obey their masters) or at the top (Jesus' attitude of servanthood despite being the boss).
Martin Luther saw it this way: "The milkmaid has as honorable calling as the priest and the preacher." Luther would go on to say that all work is God's calling.
This isn't just a worker issue. In an essay Dorothy Sayers, a 20th century writer and Christian humorist, pointed out that part of the issue was with the church: "In nothing has the church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the so called secular vocation. The church has allowed work and religion to become separate departments… How can anyone remain interested in a religion or a faith which has no concern for 9/10ths of his or her life."
Both the church and its people can be guilty of compartmentalizing our faith. Have you ever listed your priorities in numerical order with something like: 1. God 2. Family 3. Work 4. Play?
It seems noble to put God first, but is that how you live your life? Is God separate from everything else?
Shouldn't it look more like this: 1. Family (and God). 2 Work (and God). 3. Play (and God)?
I changed career paths because I thought I would be bored and unfulfilled. Maybe. But God doesn't look at it that way.
Work is a calling to serve God and serve others, whether that be as a milkmaid, a cubicle dweller or a preacher.