The Word Before Work: A Monday-Through-Friday Devotional to Help You Find Eternal Purpose in Your Daily Work

The Word Before Work: A Monday-Through-Friday Devotional to Help You Find Eternal Purpose in Your Daily Work

by Jordan Raynor
The Word Before Work: A Monday-Through-Friday Devotional to Help You Find Eternal Purpose in Your Daily Work

The Word Before Work: A Monday-Through-Friday Devotional to Help You Find Eternal Purpose in Your Daily Work

by Jordan Raynor

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Overview

A weekday devotional to help Christians connect the gospel to their vocation and appreciate the eternal significance of their work—no matter what it is—from the entrepreneur, thought leader, and bestselling author of Redeeming Your Time.

Perhaps you feel as if the work you do carries less eternal impact than the work of a pastor or missionary. But that’s not how God sees it. Whatever it looks like day to day, your work is ministry and central to God’s plans to restore fallen creation. 

As the days of creation reveal, God is quite familiar with work himself. He created humans with unique giftings and interests, specifically so we can pursue his redemptive work in partnership with him. 

The Word Before Work features 260 readings—one for every workday of the year—to help you see how your work connects to God’s work in the world. The first four weeks set the foundation by exploring:

what work means in light of the biblical narrative
why our work matters
five ways these truths inform how we should work today

The rest of this devotional takes you on a journey through Scripture to explore God’s perspective on the work he has called you to do.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, barista, stay-at-home parent, CEO, or coach, The Word Before Work affirms how God created you for work, why it matters, and the ways it holds significance both now and for eternity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593193112
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/15/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 521,228
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Bestselling author Jordan Raynor helps Christians respond to the radical, biblical truth that their work matters for eternity. He does this through his books (The Creator in You, Redeeming Your Time, Master of One, and Called to Create), podcast (Mere Christians), and weekly devotional (The Word Before Work)—content that has served millions of Christ-followers in every country on earth. In addition to his writing, Jordan serves as the executive chairman of Threshold 360, a venture-backed tech startup which he previously ran as CEO following a string of successful ventures of his own. Jordan has twice been selected as a Google Fellow and served in the White House under President George W. Bush. A sixth-generation Floridian, Jordan lives in Tampa with his wife and their three young daughters.

Read an Excerpt

Week 1

Monday

Looking for a God at Work


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. —Genesis 1:1–­3

In the church today, we talk a lot about how God is loving, holy, omnipresent, all-­powerful, faithful, just, and true. But we rarely, if ever, talk about the fact that we worship a God who works. Yet that is the very first thing God revealed about himself in Scripture. In the beginning, God created. In the beginning, God was productive. In the beginning, God worked.

In the first pages of Genesis, we see God working with his words (see chapter 1) and his hands (see 2:7–­9). We see him joyfully engaged in “the work of creating” (2:3). It’s significant to note that the Hebrew word mlkh, which we translate “work” in this verse, is also used to describe human work throughout the Old Testament.

Every other religion says that the gods created human beings to work and serve the gods. Only the Bible says that God himself worked to serve us. This radical truth is foundational to how we—God’s image bearers—should think about our work today. Work isn’t a necessary evil or a meaningless means to an end. Work is dignified, meaningful, and good in and of itself. More than that, work is Godlike and a way that we reflect his character to those around us. With that in mind, go and lean into your God-­ordained work with love and excellence today!

Week 1

Tuesday

What God Did Not Create in the Beginning


God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” —Genesis 1:27–­28

What God created in the first six days is remarkable. But what’s equally remarkable is what he did not create. After working for six days, God left the earth largely undeveloped and uncultivated. He created a blank canvas and then invited us to join him in filling it. Before God rested on the seventh day, he put a succession plan in place, calling us to create in his image—to “fill the earth and subdue it.” As one pastor pointed out, this is a call for “civilization, not just procreation.”1 It is a call to cultural creation.

We often treat the sixth day as the end of the creation account. But day six is just the beginning! It’s when God passed the baton to us and in essence said, “Go work and create like me. Show me what you can do with this blank canvas I’ve created for you. Fill this world with good things just as I did in the beginning!”

As you go to work today, you will be filling the earth with widgets, processes, and culture. This work isn’t “secular,” as so many have come to believe. It’s sacred because it’s ordained by the Creator God. So go and fill the earth, confident in the belief that you are obeying God’s call to create!

Week 1

Wednesday

Thorns and Thistles


To Adam [God] said . . . “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” —Genesis 3:17–­19

After a particularly frustrating day at the office, it can be tempting to believe that work itself is a curse—a necessary evil and consequence of living in a fallen world. But that’s not at all what Scripture teaches. God himself worked, giving great dignity to our work today. Then he passed the baton of creation to us to work as his image bearers. Genesis 1 and 2 show us that work is inherently dignified and good. Work existed prior to the Fall, and thus, work was designed to be worship.

But—and this is a big but—sin messed everything up. As today’s passage reminds us, sin doesn’t just affect our souls and individual standing before God. It affects the whole of creation, including the world of work. Because of sin, our work has become “painful toil” as the “thorns and thistles” of fallen creation make our work frustrating and arduous.

If you have a difficult day at the office today, remember this: Work isn’t hard because it is inherently evil. Work is hard because we still live in a fallen world. But sin didn’t just make work difficult. As we’ll see tomorrow, the Fall also ensured that we’ll be tempted to foolishly look to our work as a means of salvation.

Week 1

Thursday

Work as a Fig Leaf


They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” —Genesis 11:4

The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan who turns to her considerable skills as a chess player to prove to the world that she is worthy of love and attention. In one poignant scene, we hear Beth’s rival tell a friend, “[Beth’s] an orphan. A survivor. . . . Losing is not an option for her. Otherwise, what would her life be?”

That scene powerfully illustrates a central feature of the human condition we’ve seen since the Tower of Babel—namely, our temptation to use our work as a means of making a name for ourselves. Ever since the Fall, we’ve been trying to cover up our sin and inadequacies not with fig leaves but with our accomplishments. We think that if we land that promotion, write a bestselling book, retire early, win the next chess match, or build the world’s tallest tower, then we’ll be all right. But this, of course, is a fool’s errand.

Wherever you are today, take a moment to meditate on this truth: While Scripture teaches that work is very good (see Genesis 1–­2), it also makes clear that nothing, including our work, can ever be an ultimate good that justifies us. Which is precisely why God sent his Son to earth some two thousand years ago. Tomorrow, we turn to the coming of that Redeemer, as we continue to unpack the biblical narrative of work.

Week 1

Friday

Fishermen and Religious Professionals


Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? —Mark 6:3

For approximately 80 percent of his adult life, Jesus wasn’t preaching. He was working as a carpenter. Given Jesus’s ultimate purpose, this truth should stop us in our tracks. God could have placed Jesus in a priestly household like that of John the Baptist or in the home of a Pharisee like Paul. Instead, Jesus grew up in the household of a carpenter, doing work that looked very similar to the work you and I do today.

I think Jesus’s vocation is meant to remind us that, even after the Fall, work is still inherently good. I think God is pointing us back to Genesis to remind us that he is a God who creates things for others—just like a carpenter. I think he’s saying, “Your work that others call ‘secular’ is crucial to my kingdom-­building project.”

Jesus reaffirmed this when he called his disciples. Given that his ministry was about preaching “[the] gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14), you might expect Jesus to enlist the help of Pharisees and other religious professionals. But instead, he called fishermen and tax collectors.

If you work outside the four walls of a church, be encouraged by Jesus’s frequent reminder that your current work can be part of cultivating the kingdom. How? I’ll answer that question directly in the third week of this devotional, but first we need to get to the Cross and the rest of the biblical narrative about work.

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