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Living Out Your Purpose in a Secular Job




Little boys and girls don’t dream about Zoom meetings.

They don’t imagine they will change the world one “All Hands” at a time. They certainly don’t anticipate client disappointment or bottlenecks around production. 

Then, one day, something switches, and our “One day when I grow up” dreams trade in for the occupational field of our choice. It can feel difficult to bridge our inner intuition of purpose with our outward reality of work, but whether you are at the height of your career or simply trying to pay the bills, this reality holds true: it’s never just a job.

It’s easy for us to slip down one of two faulty paths when thinking about our work. The first idea is that secular work is somehow just outside God’s radar of interest. It’s the sentiment that we catch up with God on Sundays, except for the occasional moment when we remember to invite our co-workers to church. The other path is a line of thinking that believes God is only concerned with the people who choose vocational ministry for their lives, inevitably making the first true. Both of these are false, and we can go to the very first book of the Bible to see it.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male

and female he created them. 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.’

Genesis 1:27-28

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care

of it.

Genesis 2:15

From the moment God made man, God made man for something. From the ordering of land and sky and the planting of the Garden of Eden, man was assigned with purpose.

And so began their ritual. Can you picture it? A morning routine starting with the new sun bidding farewell to the new stars and morning walks with God in the cool of the day, just before heading off to tend the garden. The flow of communion between God and man, followed by man’s assignment, is a rhythm seen from the beginning.

From this example, we can rest assured that God is more than interested in you and that your workplace may be the very garden He has assigned you to tend.

You might be thinking, “Well, my workplace doesn’t really feel like a garden,” to that, I would say you’re right—it’s more like a field ready for harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). God has called His followers to be His advocates and to tend to the harvest of souls who do not know Him yet. Through intention, we can begin to see that believers planted in workplaces all over the globe are for a greater purpose.

Here are four ways we can live purposefully in our secular workspaces.

1.Work excellently

If the creator of all things beautiful, all things orderly, and all things perfect made you, then you were made with the ability to hone excellence. It’s not uncommon throughout Scripture that the people whom God uses powerfully are those who pursue excellence in their craft. Think of Nehemiah, a cupbearer to the king of Persia, who made the journey to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall so that they would no longer be in disgrace (Nehemiah 2:17). He and his men worked tirelessly through the night. When asked why he would do such a thing, he responded that “the God of heaven will give us success” (Nehemiah 2:20). Look at David, who learned what it was to fight well, to protect, and to lead since he was a boy (1 Samuel 17). One of your greatest tools of influence is the testimony of God’s gifts in you, so sharpen them and use them to point back to the great gift giver.

2.Work peacefully

When asked to think about your workplace, “peaceful” may not be the word that comes to mind. Yet, that’s precisely what you have been called to create. Matthew 5:9 reminds us, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God,” and from Jesus’ caution, we should seek to platform peace in workplaces that quickly become grounds for competition, pride, and casual gossip, remembering that people are God’s bottom line.

3.Work purposefully

Believe that you are on mission in your workplace. While your first task is your job itself, the ever-present undercurrent of your work is to shine the light of Christ in a dark and dying world. Through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to discern when it is a moment for quiet kindness and when it is a moment to share who Jesus has been to you with someone else. It’s this kind of discernment we see from Esther when she is appointed queen but knows that her true purpose is to advocate for the people of God. Her actions and words are measured and tactful, and it’s through this tact that she’s able to support, bring God glory, and live as queen. (Esther 7-10)

4.Live generously

There is no more counter-cultural decision than to work for God instead of oneself. A benefit of secular work that some in vocational ministry don’t experience is the resources that come with it. In Acts 16, we see Lydia’s conversion to Christianity, where we learn she was likely a successful businesswoman. Almost immediately upon her conversion, she invites missionaries Paul and Silas to stay with her before they move on to their next stop. Later, when they are in prison, her home becomes a gathering place for the early church. Lydia is a stunning example of what it is to leverage the work and resources God has given you for His glory.

Wherever you clock in tomorrow, God can use you to reflect Himself. He is the God of miracles, but He is also the God of the mundane “garden-tending” tasks. The God who found John casting his nets on the water, the God who called Matthew from behind his abacas, the God who summoned the heart of David as a boy and as a king, the God who led Esther as she was displaced and instated as resident queen, and the God who inspired Lydia to offer her grand room as the first sanctuary, calls, summons, leads, and inspires you in your workplace every day.

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Emily Buchanan Emily Buchanan lives in Atlanta with her husband and pup and is a Senior Copywriter for Accenture Song. Emily sharpened her editorial teeth first in the newsroom and has since written for a spectrum of clients, including international non-profits, worldwide ministries, and household hospitality brands. She spends most of her time writing encouragement in her weekly #GoodDayNewsletter, copywriting for her branding + advertising clients, and serving the young adults and college students of Atlanta, Georgia, at Passion City Church.