By Chaplain (Maj.) Charles Banks
Special to GUIDON
Does my job matter to God? A dear friend of mine, retired Master Sgt. Russ Gehrlein, asked that question of the Holy Bible to discover what God has to say about our jobs. What he found so impressed him that he decided to compile his research and publish a book entitled “Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession.”
Perhaps you noticed the pun involved in the title: “Immanuel” means “God with us” and “manual labor”? Russ’ point is that God not only cares about our jobs, but he is involved with us as we do them.
Russ describes his journey to that conclusion: “When I was a new sergeant, I was stationed in Korea for a year. Before then, I thought God might want me to work in a religious vocation. By the time I was in Korea, that opportunity was no longer available. During that long year apart from my family, I began to wonder if I was wasting my life stuck in a secular job. But during that very year, I read a life-changing book that explained what the Bible says about the eternal value of everyday work. I learned that I was a coworker with God in the occupation I was in, even though it was not a ‘clergy’ job. To summarize: ‘God created people to be His coworkers in expanding His kingdom on earth. He is present in the work of His children in order to meet the needs of humankind and bring glory to Himself.’ God places us in the right place at the right time to live out our Christian faith through our jobs. My passion now is to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to understand that their work is significant and that it contributes to God’s work in the world. I want them to understand how to do their jobs in a Christ-honoring way, and be fully aware of God’s presence at work every day.”
So, on Labor Day this year, let us remember Russ’ words: “Immanuel Labor” – “God is with us” in our work. Then, let that remind us to “love God with….all our strength” (Mark 12:28-31) and “do all things to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) at work.
(Editor’s note: Banks is the Military Police regimental chaplain and ethics writer/instructor.)