Editor’s Note: This is the third article of a series about “What’s at Stake When Looking for Work?” We know job searching is hard and it is important you are equipped well because there is a lot at stake. If you are looking for a job or need career clarity, check out the Career Navigator, a career coaching program offered in individual or group settings.
Where you choose to work has a massive influence over your life. It shapes your reality as we said in post one. It is about finding and following God’s plan for your life, as we noted in post two. In post three, we reflect that it’s not all about you. It’s actually about God’s plan for the world.
The purpose of every vocation is to love and serve our neighbor. The 15th Century Reformer, Martin Luther said “God does not need our works but our neighbor does.” In other words, God assigned vocations are God’s way of providing for our neighbors.
So what I do for work, and where I do it, defines the boundary of my neighborhood. In years of working with professionals, I have found that many associate “neighborhood” with the place where they physically live. It’s an old conception, a hanger-on from the days when most people lived and worked in the same community. The modern commute changed that. The virtual commute is changing it again. Jesus says “love your neighbor.” But like the ancient skeptic, we ask “then, who is my neighbor?”
Many of us do not know our physical neighbors. We’ve lived in the same apartment in New York City for seven years and only know the names of a few fellow residences. Instead of thinking about physical address, what if you conceived your neighbors by a different kind of proximity?
Your neighbors are the people with whom you are connected. They are the individuals with whom you have contact and influence. Today, they can be found all over the world. These are the people God has placed you in the world to love and serve. The impact and influence you have through the web of connections found in your work is part of God’s plan for the world. God has planned for your work to provide for your specific neighbors.
All good work qualifies as a way to love our neighbors. It is work that benefits someone outside ourselves.
The product or service you deliver provides a benefit. It is a way to love those who are customers, clients, or beneficiaries of what you provide.
Your neighbors include your colleagues, everyone you work with. Appreciating their God-given talents, celebrating their contributions, forgiving their faults, and sharing their pains - this is what neighbors do at work.
The vendors who serve your organization are a third group of neighbors. From the lunch truck outside to high-level consultants, you interact with a web of stakeholders who in one way or another enable you to function well and add value.
Customers, colleagues, vendors – all neighbors. When you chose your job, you chose your neighborhood. God has a plan to “make his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Where he leads you to work is his way of getting in on his mission to provide for everyone. Your neighborhood and his plan come together in your work.