Simplest work on earth

By Shelly Melroe, Bethel Seminary St. Paul

Have you been wondering about your life purpose or your work purpose?  I’ve been pondering this for many years as I’ve dealt with unrest and difficult transitions.  It struck me during Fall Colloquy how simple it is to Work with Purpose.  Let me highlight the simplicity –

  1. God has the plan. No need for Microsoft® Project, a Gantt chart, or objective statements.  He knows how we are wired and interconnected to deliver His work.  He has the plan.
  2. God manages the timing. We are free of milestones, deadlines, and a critical path.  Recycle and rework expected.  Each step is revealed in His time.
  3. God determines the place. Whether you love your work or are finding it toxic, God is with you and will use it to bring you good.  He has you where you are to be.
  4. God provides the resources. No reason to stress about budget, age of the assets, and change protocols.  All of our experiences have prepared us.  He has provided us talents; He has prepared the way.
  5. God brings the people. He knows who we need and how we are to work together.  He is completing His work through them, too.  He speaks through many people when and how He needs us to hear Him.
  6. God teaches us how to be. He sent Jesus to walk amongst us and be the perfect model, to teach us how to live in His name.  He is a model for daily behavior.
  7. God expects imperfection. No performance evaluations, ratings, or report cards.  He knows the reality of living in a fallen world.  He expects us to be human.
  8. God lights our fire. He has placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts to be with us and guide our thoughts, words, and actions.  He is our personal motivational coach.

I have yet to see my work on this earth to be so simply defined with my fellowman!  That said, we find endless ways to make it so difficult – mostly linked to our human-ness.  (see point 6 above).  Overcoming them and embracing the journey of God’s purpose for our work and life boils down to three things: contentment, compassion, and conviction.

Contentment.  This was summed up by Tom Nelson in Work Matters (2011) as accepting that vocational contentment is spiritual development detached from job or situation.  This requires that we attune to God more than the noise around us.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)

Compassion.  Compassion allows us to see ourselves and others as God sees us.  It validates and normalizes our humanity, humbling us to a higher power.  Through compassion, we can appreciate that those around us are working towards their unique work for His purpose.  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

Conviction.  It is on us to accept the Spirit within us and have the discipline to move closer to Him.  God is a worker, just as he calls us to join in his work.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

God has prepared the way.  We have the opportunity to work with ultimate purpose for the greatest leader ever.


Nelson, T. (2011). Work matters : Connecting Sunday worship to Monday work. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway.

Image © davidhervassanz |

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