29If you do your job well,
you will work for a ruler
and never be a slave.
The world of work is a meritocracy. Wise people know that and act accordingly. In our youth we spend countless hours developing skills. Practice, practice, practice is required for proficiency. There are many small pay-offs along the way of course, but that is not the goal.
In the degree program I lead we require students to complete an internship. This practical experience ties the big academic ideas they are learning to the “real world” of work. Now they can focus on how their talents and strengths can be put to practical use. The boss and their peers give them the final marks. Reading their journals you see the joy and satisfaction rising. “I’m learning new skills every week.” “This is the toughest job I’ve ever had, but I love it!” Or occasionally, “I am paired with a co-worker who is very difficult.”
Work is not all smooth sailing. Difficulties and dilemmas will arise in any complex profession. In fact, as my old boss used to say with a smile, that’s why we pay you! The challenge is to find the wisdom to navigate these daily ups and downs. And having a clear goal in mind helps us.
Some people think that Christian faith has little to do with work, except that we should simply be nice to everyone. But the how in doing my work is not just a neutral practice. The wisdom of Proverbs points this out. Our success rests on a foundation of excellence in professional practice. We are distinguished among our peers by a high level of skill and professional practice. Competency is its own reward. And people will trust you, and be willing to risk collaboration with you if they see you as a diligent and skillful worker.
Father God, giver of all good things, we praise you. Take these small gifts and multiply our skills and talents for your good work. We seek your guidance in meeting the challenges of the moment. May we follow Jesus example in work and play. In His name we pray. Amen.
Dr. Wood is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at The King's University and Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty. His research is on urban ecology, campus sustainability and food insects. John was born in Japan, grew up on a clear-cut in western Washington State and attended North Park University in Chicago. He has written and spoken widely on caring for creation to church and campus groups. His recent publications include: How Then Shall We Eat? Insect-Eating Attitudes and Sustainable Foodways; Stewarding the gift of land: Christian campuses as land management models; and Sustainable Missions: Ethical Principles for Holistic Practice in a Broken World.