Why Are We Working?

Have you looked around work lately and wondered, “what am I doing here?”

It’s a question we should all ask from time to time.

Understanding why you work is crucial for setting priorities and goals. It’s also a great motivator for those times when work feels especially, well, like work.

Here are a few truths I come back to whenever I’m struggling with how to approach my work.

God created us to work. Remember that feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment you get when you’ve worked hard at something and know that you’ve done well? That feeling is a reflection of God’s perfect design. Genesis 2:15 tells us that from the very beginning, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” And what’s more, we’re instructed not only to do the work before us, but to do it wholeheartedly and with joy:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might… (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24)

I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

The Purpose of Your Work Is to Serve God. Yes, most of us work for companies that were created to make money. And yes, you probably earn money at work. Obviously there are some practical financial realities at play; many people would say that they have to work in order to pay bills or support family. But while money might make work necessary, money alone cannot give you purpose, and it cannot motivate you to be your best.

The real reason we work is to serve God, and to honor God’s design for our lives. Things in your professional life will never work out perfectly, they just won’t. And if your sole focus is on earning more money or “getting to the top,” professional failures will leave you feeling empty and frustrated. But if your focus is on serving God, you have the freedom to go full out towards the goal, and to view the bumps in your professional life as opportunities. In Paul’s words, we are to “run” as if to win a divine prize, not an earthly one (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).


What keeps you motivated to work? Do you have a favorite “work verse” to reflect on when times get tough?