Updated: Feb 7, 2019
By Josh Buttram —
During our senior year at Wheaton College, Carolyn and I were soon to be married. We were planning our future and wondering what kind of career I might have. I remember saying something like, “The Lord has something in mind for me that’s so special, so unique, that I couldn’t possibly know what it is right now.” In reality, I had no idea which vocation to choose. I was stuck, about to graduate, and I couldn’t think of any good options!
At the time, I believed that all Christians were called to serve the Lord full-time by working for a church or other Christian organization. I considered these jobs sacred and any other work secular. I believed that God commanded all Christians to be pastors, missionaries, or employees of Christian organizations. In my view, Christians who did “secular” work were resisting God’s will. I pictured God wringing His hands and wishing he could just get more people to do the sort of work He really cared about. Surely God wanted me to do something “sacred,” but I couldn’t find any job leads in that arena.
I asked my dad about my conundrum and he completely shocked me by gently telling me that my viewpoint was wrong. Even though he had been a pastor, missionary, and full-time Christian worker, he believed that all work done by Christians is sacred. He gave me a book called Your Work Matters to God, which argues that God cares deeply about all types of work. He calls his children into a huge variety of fields. I agreed with the book and thought it was biblical, so I decided to open up my career search to any field of work.
As I read the job postings, I started in the “A” section and found that there were loads of openings for accountants. I thought, “Boy, if I knew how to do accounting, I could apply for all these jobs.” Also, my father-in-law was an accountant and he told lots of fun stories about the interesting characters he had served over the years. Being a music major, I had no business background.
I took the one accounting course at Wheaton College and was surprised to find that it made sense and was fascinating. Both the professor and my father-in-law were very encouraging to me as I considered accounting. My professor told me that accounting is much like music – it’s just a way of communicating. “Accountants tell the story of a business,” he said. I loved telling stories. I decided to go back to school and was surprised to learn that I enjoy accounting.
Through the years, I have really struggled to believe that my work is valuable to the Lord. One scripture that has really helped is Paul’s command to servants in Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When we go about our daily work, no matter what it is, we are serving Christ. Whether we are washing dishes, changing diapers, delivering packages, crunching numbers, mowing grass, preaching the Word, repairing lawnmowers, caring for the sick, cleaning buildings, translating Bibles, serving food, playing music, building databases, selling things – whatever we are doing, Jesus sees it as service to Him, and He’s delighted when we offer our work as a love gift to Him. Jesus values all work very highly – He is a fellow worker and He loves to talk shop about any and every vocation. I often ask Him for help when I feel stuck or afraid, and He is always with me.
I now believe that all work that Christians do is sacred. When we work “as for the Lord,” we are serving the Lord, and He is delighted. This includes any task. I hope that you are encouraged as you read this. As a servant of God, your work matters greatly to Him. He loves us and aims to meet us in our work. As we serve Him through our work, we will know the joy of His smile.