My theology of work use to have the depth of an Loverboy song (click it if you dare). Work was what I did to fund the time I was off the clock. It was simply a means to an end. This, of course, isn’t only shallow but it is also godless. Sadly, it took me well into my twenties to realize that I was wrong.
God gave Adam work to do before the fall. It isn’t a product of sin. It is part of God’s design for mankind. Work is a function of being human and, therefore, shouldn’t be thought as merely a means to an end (i.e. money). Work is a good in of itself. Work is worship.
There aren’t many good books on the theology of work… Bob Schultz wrote a little book for young men entitled, “Created for Work.” Its worth reading even though it is for a less mature audience. You’ll have to dig through the Puritans to find any sermon on the subject. One of the few helpful resources for adults is Dorothy Sayer’s article, “Why Work?” Here is my favorite passage from it:
“The habit of thinking about work as something one does to make money us so ingrained in us that we can scarcely imagine what a revolutionary change it would be to think about it instead in terms of the work done. To do so would mean taking the attitude of mind we reserve for unpaid work– our hobbies, our leisure interests, the things we make and do for pleasure– and making that the standard of all our judgments about things and people. We should ask of an enterprise, not “will it pay?” but “is it good?”; of a man, not “what does he make?” but what is his work worth?”; of goods, not “can we induce people to buy them?” but “are they useful things well made?”; of employment, not “how much a week?” but “will exercise my faculties to the utmost?”
Everyone should read Sayer’s article. It is a small step towards more biblical thinking.