Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands! (NRSV)
There seems to be two important elements to the work we do. One is that it does some good for others and for the world at large. The other is that it does some good for us. We can’t always get this balance in our paid work: we often have to take what we can get. But where we have some individual freedom, it is good to keep these features in mind as we decide how to occupy our time.
I may, for example, do lots of good as a volunteer helping deliver food to the needy. But if I am utterly bored or frustrated with it, then it falls short of a good “vocation” or calling. I may, on the other hand, work as a political staffer whose job it is to dig up dirt on opponents. I may get great delight from that, but I can scarcely claim that it makes the world a better place. And so it fails to be a truly good vocation.
So it is good to pray to God that he show us where and when to serve him in a way that performs a useful duty and also gives us some joy and delight. Again, we can’t always have our way in our paid work, and we can’t always have our way in whatever other work we do. We don’t live in an ideal world.
But it is important that we neither assume God is calling us to boredom and frustration, or that just because we enjoy doing something then God must be behind it. God most likely calls us to both make our worlds better places and to find some joy in doing so.
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