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God, your co-worker

Posted: 23/09/16

“The task God has given us as His co-workers is to see and connect what has not been connected and made before”.

Andrew Laird (Dean, Marketplace Institute) reflects on one of the key ways we are to understand the relationship between God and our daily labour. 

This article was first published on the Life@Work website.

It’s often said that one of the biggest challenges of the workplace is not so much the tasks we have to do, but the people we have to work with. As one author puts it, “To be happier, more successful, more stress-free at work, you only have to do two things well. You have to get the job done, and you have to handle the relationships with the people around you. Getting the job done tends to be easy part”. [1]

Of course our co-workers can also be some of the best people in our lives. They, more than any other, know the pressures, challenges and joys of our work because they’re in it with us.

But what if it was possible to always have the perfect co-worker? One who never let you down. One who provided you with all the resources you needed for the job. Well there is a co-worker like that; God.

The first thing the Bible tells us about God is that He is a worker; “In the beginning God made” (Genesis 1:1). Scripture then proceeds to describe Him using a variety of worker terms. He’s a gardener and a metalworker, a potter and a builder.

But as a worker, God doesn’t do all the work for us. As creatures made in His image we are workers too (Genesis 1:26-28). And He invites us to work the world that He has created. He plants the garden (Genesis 2:8) but it is our task to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). It is a co-working relationship. The late English preacher John Stott put it like this: “God is the Creator, humanity is the cultivator. Each needs the other”. [2]

God could have provided us with ready-made chairs, or already harvested crops, or excavated gold. He could have given us orange juice in a bottle. But in His great wisdom God instead says to humanity you take the oranges and just see what you might create with them. God plants, but we’re to work the garden.

God in His great wisdom limits Himself. Instead of doing all the work for us, He enters into this co-working arrangement. Giving Adam the job of naming the animals is a perfect example of this (Genesis 2:19). God could have named the animals Himself. We know He’s capable of it because earlier in Genesis He named the light day and the darkness night (Genesis 1:5). But in His great wisdom God limits Himself. God plants, and we work. He invites you to do the work of developing His creation.

Ayn Rand, who in her lifetime was often critical of religion and Christianity, nevertheless in her well-known novel Atlas Shrugged described our role like this: “Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source…the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before”. [3] The task God has given us as His co-workers is to see and connect what has not been connected and made before.

Recently I was reading a book where a child asked their dad, “If God made the world, why can’t he make my bed?”. The dad didn’t know how to respond, instead thinking to himself, “It’s not a bad question. I wish I knew the answer”. [4] Well the answer is that God in His infinite wisdom has designed the world that we might be co-workers with Him. That we might work the garden and so fashion, build, design and construct things that are useful, helpful and beneficial to people. Things that assist others. Things that bring greater understanding to them. Things that lead them toward greater wholeness. We seek to see and connect what hasn’t been connected and made before. And that makes all work exciting, as we co-work with God.


[1] Patricia Addesso, The boss from outer space and other aliens at work, 1.
[2] John Stott, Issues facing Christians today, 223. The word “need” might be overstating it, for God is not dependant on His creation for anything (Acts 17:25). However the point remains, that in our work it is a partnership with God.
[3] Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 782.
[4] Michael McGirr, The lost art of sleep.

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