One of the greatest lies our culture tells us is that certain types of work are more valuable than others. In the kingdom of God, this couldn’t be further from the truth. All work, done with integrity, is meaningful.
I heard a story from a pastor once about a father talking to his son as they passed a construction site. “Stay in school and work hard, son,” the father said, “or you’ll end up like that man laying bricks.” Oh, how this story breaks my heart.
It points to the faulty assumption that a meaningful life can’t be found in certain employment positions. It turns people into a ladder meant to be climbed, not humans contributing value to the functioning of a society. The Bible talks about how Christians all have unique giftings coming together to make the church function. We all are a different part of one body, fulfilling our specific callings to create a thriving entity.
In a similar way, each job description is a small contribution to the larger narrative of our society. What would we do if we had no way to get rid of waste? How would the economy function without knowledgeable people able to wire electricity?
No matter janitor or CEO, gardener or salesman, we are all one in Christ Jesus. Dignity is not found in the accolades or acclaim–it’s found in our identities as God’s children. As his children, we’re able to pour all of our energy into whatever task is in front of us. As the book of Colossians instructs, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
Is it possible to love people with the love of Christ if we’re belittling the work they do? No, it’s not. And to view all work as valuable means more than a “thank you” to the person working the register, although that’s important. It means also, “What is your name?”
It isn’t just holding the door for the CEO. It’s also, “Tell me more about yourself.”
We don’t simply need more gratitude, we need more latitude in seeing the soul within each person.
It’s our responsibility to take on the cause of Christ–the radical equality found within his jurisdiction. When we get to heaven, the investment banker and the bank janitor will be worshiping together at the feet of Jesus. Why not start building that relationship now?