in which my son wears the mask of God in his work
What else is all our work to God–whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government–but just such a . . . [way] by which He wants to give His gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things. ~Martin Luther as quoted on p. 70 of Every Good Endeavor
My son helps to educate children. He helps heal the sick. He helps run major companies. He helps ease transitions and changes.
Yet he’s not a teacher, a doctor, a CEO, or a counselor.
He’s a mover and a driver for a local moving company. He calls in every night for his schedule, shows up early every day, and often works overtime.
He helps schools and doctor’s offices and businesses relocate. He works with families in the midst of stress and anxiety from unrooting an elderly parent to divorce, to job changes.
He works compassionately, competently, and creatively to protect a family’s history in the way he wraps and stacks and shoulders large objects around tight corners and navigates steep stairs.
He works efficiently to save his clients time and money–and yes, sometimes he even runs.
He wears down his body and risks injury while he builds up community and rearranges resources.
And he follows the company’s core values, which include The Grandma Rule®: to treat everyone the way you would want your grandma to be treated.
Even his OCD tendencies, as frustrating as they can be for him sometimes, uniquely gift him for excellence in his day-to-day work as he chooses and directs his team, works side by side with them.
My son wears the mask of God in his work.
How he does his work in serving others is one way he helps cultivate God’s creation and a way he helps shape culture. It’s a way to love his neighbor “through the ministry of competence.” And it’s a way through which God cares for the rest of us, how He unmasks Himself.
Not only are the most modest jobs–like plowing a field or digging a ditch–the “masks” through which God cares for us, but so are the most basic social roles and tasks, such as voting, participating in public institutions, and being a father or mother. These are all God’s callings, all ways of doing God’s work in the world, all ways through which God distributes his gifts to us. Even the humblest farm girl is fulfilling God’s calling. As Luther preached, “God milks the cows through the vocation of the milk maids” ~p 71
Through our work we bring order out of chaos, create new entities, exploit the patterns of creation, and interweave the human community. So whether splicing a gene or doing brain surgery or collecting the rubbish or painting a picture, our work further develops, maintains, or repairs the fabric of the world. In this way, we connect our work to God’s work. ~p. 61
Note: There’s a lot of chaos in the moving process. My son helps bring order out of that.
And so it is, my son’s work is just as important as the teacher’s, the doctor’s, the CEO’s, or the counselor’s.
This week The High Calling book club is discussing Part One (“God’s Plan for Work”) of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf. Chapters 1-4 address the design of work, the dignity of work, work as cultivation, and work as service. Glynn Young is leading today’s discussion here.