Dear Friend, Here’s What to Know About a Work-Driven Life

This post originally appeared on the blog at Denver Institute for Faith & Work and also at, an online forum designed to equip, inspire, and empower twenty-somethings to embrace their season and live wholehearted lives.

A young woman stares at us looking exhausted – and yet, exhilarated. She is fueled by coffee and (we can presume) little else.

Her cheeks are hollowed and her hair disheveled, implying that her body is worn out by speed and demand of her work. Her sleep-deprived state is compared to drug use.

She is praised as the modern portrait of a “doer.”

In January 2017, online freelance marketplace Fiverr released this advertisement in a larger ad campaign titled ‘In Doers We Trust.’

This striking poster appeared on New York subway cars and Facebook feeds. The public – and the media – responded with concern. What are we demanding of today’s freelancer? To what degree do we demand constant availability from employees and contractors?

And are we supposed to work ourselves to death to be successful?

Fiverr stated that the goal of these ads is to “seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less.” However, in a response piece in The New Yorker, writer Jia Tolentino comments that “there’s a painful distance between the chipper narratives surrounding labor and success in America and the lived experience of workers.”

Translation: American culture says your success comes through round-the-clock action; our bodies (and I would argue, our souls) are struggling to keep up. Refer back to our frazzled friend in the ad for just one example.

As followers of Christ, what is our response to the culture of the “doer”? How do we create patterns of healthy rest in a world of 24/7 connectivity?

Here are three questions to consider in your work this week.


In the 5280 Fellowship, we discuss how our daily work habits contribute to our wholeness as followers of Christ. Because whether or not we recognize it, our work is affecting our souls.

If our daily habits include multitasking, constantly checking our notifications and running on coffee alone, we are teaching our bodies and minds that worth comes from task completion. And this reveals what our hearts truly praise.

If we prioritize productivity to the point of neglecting relationships with coworkers and clients, and even disregarding our own health, we are not trusting God with the ultimate success of our work offering (Psalm 127:1-2).

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:1-2

God invites us to find fuel in our relationship with him, and to love and serve others with the work of our hands. Where does your own sense of fuel come from?


In my role in a communications agency, much of my work can be done from a coffee shop or the comfort of my kitchen table. Thus, it can be tempting to blur the boundaries between work and home life.

I was encouraged by a mentor to set hourly limits for myself to assert my boundaries with clients and coworkers in order to safeguard times for rest and relationship.

I was encouraged by a mentor to set hourly limits for myself to assert my boundaries with clients and coworkers in order to safeguard times for rest and relationship.

If you (like me) are prone to blur the boundaries between work and other life priorities, who in your community can hold you accountable to balance? Maybe it’s a spouse, trusted friend, or pastor. Who is going to call you out and invite you to slow down when your body is revealing that the speed and demand of work might be too much?


Curious about balancing our call to hard work with our call to Sabbath, I recently sat down with Stephen Redden, pastor at New Denver Church (NDC) and director of The Church Cooperative of Denver, NDC’s church planting initiative.

His diverse career path has challenged him to juggle the roles of husband, father, business owner and church leader simultaneously.In light of such deep and diverse responsibilities, I asked him how he maintained his own rhythms of Sabbath and rest.

I loved his response: “Resting is like a muscle. You have to work it to make it stronger.”

“Resting is like a muscle. You have to work it to make it stronger.”

He admitted that there have been seasons in his life when business responsibilities demanded much of his time, attention and energy. But for him, it was crucial to remember that those demands were only for a season. He learned to be fully present at work when working, and fully present to rest when resting, ultimately trusting God to honor the boundaries between those spheres of life. His wife helped him gauge and maintain his health and wholeness in times of busyness.

“I had to truly learn the rhythm of rest. It took practice, just like my work tasks did. Both required intention to learn to do them well.”

Let his words be our own guide this week. As the tasks and calendar invitations build, let us exercise the muscle of rest, even as we stretch our muscles in work.

I think we can still be “doers” by day. But when we sign off of email on Friday at 5:00 pm, let’s trust in a job well done and rest with peace.

Things That Work Teaches Me

I used to work in the hallway.

On the first day of my current job, I was ushered to a seat at a small desk in the hall of our corner office, adjacent to the rooms my colleagues occupied. Adjacent to the coat rack and the supply shelves. Adjacent to the office kitchen, where CNN was on TV all day, ringing the world’s news into my ears. I’ve never been so up-to-date on current events nor the sounds of the microwave humming.

This month, I will celebrate two years at the communications agency that I work for out of that same corner office in downtown Denver (although I have since moved out of the hall).

When I started, I was fresh onto the scene of agency marketing, and was coming from a nonprofit where I felt constantly connected to the larger purpose behind my work. In my new position, I struggled to see how my duties in the corporate sector were contributing to the greater good.

As I’ve felt my perspective shift, and learned about the inherent gift and value of hard work, my job has started to reveal new meaning and depth. Or rather, God has revealed new meaning and depth to me. I’m more and more aware of the ways that my daily tasks contribute to the economy, commerce and culture, and the ways that my work contributes to the cultivating, creative work that God is doing in our world.

The realization of this gift – and this opportunity – began at that hallway desk.

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I’m in an industry where we serve multiple companies at the same time, all the time. People are in and out, going to meetings with clients and vendors, attending events one day and working from home the next. Thus, every day has a different cast of characters and a different agenda.

I’m learning that variety keeps me sharp.

I always loved school, and I was often afraid that my post-school life would be somewhat lifeless because I would be tied to one thing. Not so. Work allows me to collect information and to constantly discover new things about the world.

Work is the new school. Honing and refining the good, weeding out the bad, and encouraging me forward through the cadence of daily tasks and routines.

Whether your work takes the form of a 9-5, volunteering, several part-time gigs, parenting or care-giving, the daily rhythms of work are important to keep us focused on things bigger than ourselves.

Some days, when I feel like all I did was field emails, and I wonder about the point of my work, I think I stewarded the body and mind God gave me. Or I learned something new. Or I communicated truth to someone.

Though simple, these things are productive and valuable.

Some days, when I feel like I’m failing in my responsibilities, I am gently reminded that failure isn’t fatal. The hallway job and the corner market job and the nannying job are not opportunities to show off our talents and perfections, but rather opportunities to learn from and accept our imperfections in the pursuit of growth.

Jobs are hard at times. I have messed up a lot of things and arrived late for meetings and had to be corrected an embarrassing number of times.

After writing a post last February about living free and fearless and loved, I found myself standing at a work cocktail party flooded with shame. It was one of the biggest projects I’d yet worked on – a big happy hour gathering for members of the media.

I really wanted to do a good job that night.

But when it came, the clock ticked slowly forward and only a few people showed up. Much less than I had promised. And all I could think, as I looked at the sparse room, was how I wrote about living loved and then proceeded to let a bunch of people down.

I returned to my hallway desk thinking, What’s the point of this? How do I accept this and move on? 

God teaches me – gently, persistently, over and over again – that failure can be a catalyst for good. That letdowns are just invitations (albeit painful ones) to take a hard look at reality and then figure out how to move forward with grace and endurance.

In dusting myself off and continuing to show up to our corner office each day, I have learned that showing up is half the battle.

But when you do, and you ask for help from God and friends and mentors, you find that you gain footing, gain confidence, gain a perseverance of spirit through the power of allowing yourself to be helped.

There’s always another day, and another chance. 

In writing, planning, organizing, designing and presenting, my work teaches me that there’s always another chance to get it right. There’s urgency with each project, but there’s also room to grow.

The biggest challenge for me has been to allow myself that grace. To refuse the voice that says I have to show up perfect every time.

I used to feel so disheartened that I couldn’t show up flawless to work each day.
The freedom came when I realized that I didn’t have to.

Work, for me, is an ongoing lesson in imperfection and grace.

The variety, the learning, the messy growth. It all contributes to this lesson God is teaching me over and over, gently reminding me that my lack is an invitation to hold tightly to his abundance. Work shows me the value of daily faithfulness, the discipline of commitment, and the hope of serving others through my skills.

And in a beautiful twist of perspective, after entering my corporate workplace so pessimistic about the potential for public-sector work to contribute to kingdom-level change, I’m developing a solid belief that my work is good. My work is good because it mirrors God’s work. 

I provide for others, make things better, create and re-create, because God is provider, makerCreator and redeemer.

Whether from the penthouse or the hallway, we are called to be vessels of connection, truth and faithfulness through our daily tasks.

And with God’s ever-present help, I believe that has eternal value.