For the Life of the World Week 3: Creative Service

This week we learned about the essence of work and creativity. What is work? It’s tempting for us to view work as an impersonal machine. After all, work can be inflexible: maybe we punch in 9 to 5, or we’re stuck in a position where there is no upward mobility. The lesson this week shifted our focus towards work as a gift from God.

In the video, Dwight read a story called “The Ungiving Tree” to some children. In the story, the Tree had many gifts. The Tree was unwilling to share his gifts. He drove people away and put up a fence around himself. Pretty soon the Tree became forgotten, and no one benefitted from his gifts. The story reminded us that it is the nature of a tree to give, just as it is in our nature to make and create. We’re created in God’s image, and therefore we are makers. Work was supposed to have purpose and be fulfilling, but after the Fall that work became toil.

A better way to look at work is as an opportunity to discover our callings and exercise our creativity. It is also a chance for us to collaborate with other people. It is through our calling that we create the goods and services that meet people’s needs and desires. Through our work we establish relationships with other people and find value in the communities that these relationships build. Since the fruit of our labor is relationships, we should allow people to share their gifts freely so we can build new communities.

The idea that work fosters relationships was one that really resonated with me. Building a church is work, just as building a business is work. Without work and creativity, a lot of us might not be connected at all. After our meeting we noted that the fact that we can call our friends from our cell phones is the direct result of someone’s work.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours with our co-workers, bosses, and clients. Work opens doors and gives us a chance to be friends with people we would otherwise never meet. Even in situations where we’re not in contact with clients or co-workers, I feel that our work and creativity reveals a lot about who we are. In those cases, our work plants seeds from which new relationships can grow.

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