Holy Work

From Br. Joseph (Aug. 20, 2007) —

Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.

— Saint Theophan the Recluse

What an honor and privilege it is to be a teacher! (It is an even greater honor to be one who works behind the scenes to support teachers! You are the wind beneath their wings.) Although our society does not always reflect this, you know this. It is one of the reasons why God chose you to be a teacher (or the one behind the scenes supporting the teachers). In answering His call, God has given you a unique opportunity to love and give to others, which ultimately returns the gift of love given to you, through others, back to Him.

But, are you working for God, or doing God’s work?

This is a subtle play on words that points vaguely at attitude (and humility). To “work for God” refers to doing something in order to obtain some kind of reward. It is a bit like trying to impress your boss in hopes of receiving something in return. To “do God’s work” is simply doing what needs to be done in any given situation—to do the right thing—for that is what God wants you to do. (Knowing and doing the right thing are different things that will are best left for another time.)

To “work for God” is like being a consultant or contract worker. You are your own boss, and you decide what you are going to do for God. To “do God’s work” is like a salaried employee for *the* Company. You do what needs to be done because you are in the Company—you are part of the Company—and it is best for all.

To “work for God” means that you are doing it all yourself. You goal is noble and worthy, but your energy and motivation comes from within you, from your ego. To “do God’s work” means that you still use your energy and motivation, but its source is humble and comes from deep within, from the part of you connected to God as a branch is connected to the Vine. Working for God leads to fatigue, and in many cases, burnout. You exhaust your reserves and dry up. Doing God’s work is also fatiguing, probably more so than working for God, but God always gives you what you need when you need it.

To “work for God” sets God up as an idol, an it, an object to be used, cajoled, and manipulated. To “do God’s work” keeps you and others and God in proper relationship (kinda like a little mini-Trinity), as subject-to-subject, person-to-person.

Working for God is good and noble. Doing God’s work is also. But which one let’s God be in control? Which one requires the humility that so many saints talk about? Which one comes from the first Beatitude, blessed are the poor in spirit?

It is only as God works in me, that I can do His work.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.’” (Mark )4:24)

Surrender to grace. Don’t forget to pray. Everything belongs.

Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us…

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