Our two border collies often remind me of the connection between satisfying work and energizing joy. Although our pets are past their prime, they behave like pups when the opportunity arises to do their “work” of herding and running off would-be predators that could harm their “flock”—which in their minds is our family.
One day Sport, our male collie, wandered from our yard and was missing for a few hours. Just before dinner, he returned exhausted—panting and limping from bleeding pads on his paws. Yet he quickly forgot about resting and licking his wounds when his mate barked to go outside to rid the yard of pesky squirrels. Weary and wounded, Sport was nonetheless ready and eager to work.
In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul is clear: God made us to do good works, too.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
But these good works are more than just “spiritual” activities such as sharing the gospel, studying the Bible, or teaching three-year-olds at church. Paul means any work can be good—when it meets legitimate physical, emotional, social, or spiritual needs.
When God designed us, he did so with specific good work in mind that he “prepared in advance” for us to do. As a result, when we use the gifts he gave us to carry out this work, we feel his pleasure and are energized to do what it takes to accomplish our tasks, often losing track of time. Even when we’re bone-tired at the end of the day, we’re infused with renewed energy the next morning, ready to go again when we’re doing the good work for which we were designed.
God designed each of us to work in his kingdom, and there’s little in life that’s more fulfilling than doing the work he entrusted to us. Booker T. Washington commented on the power of giving people good work to do: “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.”
So, what’s the best way to confirm the good work God prepared for you to do? Moments of energizing joy are a clue. In the classic movie Chariots of Fire, Olympic runner Eric Liddell’s sister tried to discourage his athletic ambitions, to which he replied, “God made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.” Ask yourself the following questions when you feel God’s pleasure:
- What specifically am I doing that is satisfying?
- What are the circumstances that energize me?
- What kinds of people or things do I enjoy working with most?
- What is it about this work that I really love?
Following the scent of joy in your life will lead you to the work God designed and entrusted you to do. This is the path to your greatest satisfaction and effectiveness for the cause of Christ.
© 2001 - 2014 H. E. Butt Foundation. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Laity Lodge and TheHighCalling.org. Article by Bill Peel.