Why Your Dirty Job Matters to God
Mike Rowe likes to get dirty.
Maybe that is understating things a bit. Mike Rowe loves to get dirty. As the host of the TV show, Dirty Jobs on The Discovery Channel, Mike’s job is to go to every corner of our great country looking for some of the dirtiest, stinkiest jobs you can imagine. If it is muddy, wet, sweaty, dusty, cramped, cold, or just plain gross, Mike has been there doing it, often poorly but always with entertaining results.
Beyond the sheer entertainment value of the show, I think one of the reasons I like Dirty Jobs is because I have had more than a few dirty jobs of my own. Some jobs were literally dirty. In college, I worked as a glorified janitor more than a few times. Other jobs were dirty in the figurative sense, caused by frustrations with the job, poor pay, difficult clients, mean bosses, and with the occasional general dose of relational messiness. I’m guessing that more than a few of you have had your share of dirty jobs, too.
In the book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul gives some advice to the church in Colossae:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” - Colossians 3:1-2
Later in the chapter, he goes on to give this advice, which has spoken to me directly many times as I stood chest deep in the muck of a dirty job:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you’re serving.” -Colossians 3:23-24
If you feel trapped in a dirty job, it can feel like you are living in a tiny, dark room. If that describes how you feel, Paul’s words should give you great hope. Paul meets us in the darkness of our tiny room and flings open the window shades to let the penetrating sunlight of eternal reality come streaming through. He takes our perspective straight out of our temporary circumstances and encourages us to focus on the eternal. He reminds us of the beautiful promise that whether our job is a dirty one or not, simply put, we work for Jesus.
Is your boss mean? Jesus is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Is your job too hard to bear? Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Do you feel surrounded by darkness when you walk into work? Jesus is the light of all mankind (John 1:4). Are you overworked and underpaid? Paul reminds us here that our reward for working for Jesus is an eternal one, which is infinitely better and lasts infinitely longer than money.
Sure, this truth won’t change the fact that your job may be a dirty one, but if we really get what Paul is saying here, it makes the dirt tolerable. If I asked you to clean a toilet and you knew a million dollar paycheck was yours for doing it faithfully, I’m guessing you’d clean that toilet well and with joy in your heart, dirty though it may be. Why? Because you understand that a great reward is on the other side of a (dirty) job well done. That’s what Paul is saying here.
So if your job is a dirty one, pray that God would change your circumstances. Definitely. Beg him for it. Be relentless with your prayers for that. But at the same time, as you dream of better jobs to come, ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to be faithful to the job he has called you to work today. In doing so, you will glorify the Lord with your Christ-likeness and earn a reward that can never be spent. In doing so, you will turn dirt into something better than gold!