In the last couple of years I’ve been brought repeatedly to Genesis 1:28 where the most fundamental of God’s intentions for human life on Earth is expressed. The first command given to humans is to be fruitful and multiply and to take dominion over all of Creation. As the Lord has been increasingly saying to the Church, we are to be bearing reproducible fruit and engaging in every sphere of creation as ambassadors for His Kingdom.
This truth has touched many in so-called “full-time” ministry with a new call to enter/return to the “secular” workforce. There is a realization that our penchant for staying within the 4 walls of the Church is much too strong and that in so doing, we’re not, in general, obeying this Creation Commandment. As a “full-time missionary”, I’ve been listening to these messages and posing the same question to myself. Is God calling me to return to the workforce? Here in France? Elsewhere? Why? Why not? Certainly financial challenges add to the desire to reflect on this possibility!
As I’ve blogged about before, this school year came, for me, with much uncertainty as to what God wanted me to be doing. Our engagements here have been fairly varied so that there were any number of things that I could be involved in and certainly not lack for things to keep myself busy. Keeping busy is not my highest aim though and so I was definitely “knockin’, seekin’, askin'” about God’s will. Well, the Lord has been faithful not just in answering that prayer but also, in my opinion, my questioning prayer about a return to “professional” life.
This year at school it became obvious that the computing environment had evolved to a point where it needed to be managed by someone and not just left to evolve haphazardly. I’ve now taken that responsibility and it has been enlightening.
In this role in a Christian school, currently not paid and fairly full-time, I am really marrying two calls on my life:
- Information Technology professional
That to me is exciting as I’ve never doubted our call to the mission field, nor that I was doing what I was made to do during my 16 years in IT before the mission field. I can’t say that I’ll be doing it forever, but I see a real convergence of God’s plan and timing in all of this. Many more details than I could possibly get into now.
Well what does all that have to do with Gen 1:28?
During my career years I developed a sense of how I work best and what are my strengths and what are my weaknesses. When I look back, though I was an “engaged Christian” at the time, I believe that my weaknesses kept me from really taking dominion for the Kingdom of God in my workplace. I’ve been saddened by this for some time as I’ve realized that in some ways those were years that the locusts nibbled on a bit.
My strengths got me to a position as a Database Administrator for a medium-sized IT shop. At one point, I was the lead on a small team of DBAs. I had a fair amount of Independence and I really enjoy working that way. However, I have a weakness with task and time prioritization such that I’m prone to spend lots of time on technological bunny trails and in the end, while I may gain greater understanding of something, I end up scrambling to get the work done! Not good and definitely not a case of “taking dominion”.
In this new role as IT coordinator at our school, I’m even more independent. At the moment I’m pretty much a “one-man-show”.
As I’ve been diving into IT work again, I’m faced again with my weaknesses and the memory of the “years the locusts have eaten”. I have a deep desire in my heart to redeem those years and to bring Kingdom dominion into the IT world. I’ve advanced enough to lean more on the Lord and less on my own understanding…already important progress. But, I’m finding that there is “sneaky time-creep” in my task prioritization. In a situation where priorities are not rigid and I set my own course, I do find that I choose more often the interesting technological challenges than spending time on what needs to be done the most.
In reflecting on this and the work mandate in general that Adam was given, I think I noticed something.
In the Garden, Adam was given the job of naming the animals and cultivating the garden. When you name something, you are exercising ultimate authority over it. You are giving it its identity; deciding its destiny. We’ve lost much of the significance of this in Western culture (though that doesn’t make it less true). When you think about the fact that Adam was given the task of taking authority over the garden by cultivating it and taking authority over the animals by giving them names, and that then it was an animal that slithered through the weeds that tricked Adam into giving away his authority, it makes you wonder…
Did Adam forget to name the snake?
Did Adam see the big ferocious lion and decide that it was more exciting and necessary to name this lion? Did he neglect his duty in weeding to admire the beautiful tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
Did the unappealing parts of Adam’s career in animal husbandry and agriculture cause him to ignore his responsibilities in them such that they created an opening for the Fall? Did the lack of stewardship and integrity in responsibility in Adam’s career create the environment for Original Sin?
Personally, I think that this battle that I’m in my work life has deep significance…both for me individually and as a human called to take dominion in creation.
I intend to not let the same mistake (Adam’s and mine) happen again. I, of course, can’t do it myself and I’m thrilled that the “leaning” on the Lord is becoming more of my M.O. than trying to solve all problems myself. I’m looking forward to seeing how God will redeem this part of His Creation and how He’ll use me in it.
Here’s to taking dominion for the Kingdom of God in the workforce! May Jesus be glorified in all we set our hand to.