#322 A Flourishing World: Work is purposeful

April 13, 2022

God created a flourishing world abounding with life and beauty. He created abundant plants and all kinds of animals and then added humans made in His own image. God assigned specific roles to the man and woman.

 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 1:28, 2:15, NIV)

God assigned Adam and Eve work that was purposeful. He told them to “fill the earth,” to “subdue” and “rule over” the creation, to “work it” and “take care of it.” God designed work with meaning and purpose as an ingredient for a flourishing world. The fall recorded in Genesis 3 distorted this design and added sweat and struggle to Adam’s work. Serving leaders work to restore God’s original design in the places they lead by helping those they lead find purpose in their work.

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God’s intent was for Adam and Eve to develop and shape the world He had created. They were to bring forth food from the earth. But they were also to imagine and dream of ways that the creation could be shaped to bring forth more beauty and productivity. God gave man the responsibility to investigate, invent, plan and develop the world. There was gold and minerals in the earth that needed to be discovered and shaped into useful products. And they were to do all this as God’s representatives. Their work was an extension of His work!

Serving leaders recognize that God put a desire for meaningful work deep in the DNA of every person. No one enjoys work simply to pay bills and survive. Every business idea, every invention, every discovery made by man is intended to add value to God’s world and to help people flourish. And because of this, the work of each individual should be filled with purpose.

 Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Many people see work as a necessary evil or just a means to make money but God’s design was far higher than this. People are not just money-making machines. They are created to contribute their gifts and passions to help create a world that flourishes.

Serving leaders imagine companies, communities and homes in which every person contributes their part to a meaningful whole. They imagine a workplace where people bring their whole selves to the task at hand, where people contribute ideas for improvements and where their opinions matter. They envision a company where even the person doing the lowest job understands that their work is making a difference in the world. In this flourishing world creativity is released, imaginations are inspired, and great value is added to the world.  

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders acknowledge that purposeful work is not the norm. They realize that they will need to work hard to make their world flourish. They begin by clearly defining the great purpose for which their organization exists. They shift the focus from the production of a product or service to the change they will bring to the world. Then, they work hard to communicate this purpose to everyone in the organization until each person understands how their work contributes to the purpose. They share stories of the impact the business or organization is making in the world. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by filling work with purpose.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of purposeful work been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means for work to be purposeful. Write at least three reflections.

Think about the organization you lead. What is its purpose? Do you have a clearly defined statement of why you exist? Do the people you lead understand why their work matters in the world? Do you talk as much about the purpose as you talk about finances?

What action steps will you take as a leader to bring purpose to the work in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Standards are Defined