God does everything he does with excellence, and Jesus surely never engaged in shoddy work in his time of working as a carpenter before his public ministry. Therefore, we should not settle for shoddy work in our occupations, either.
Yet, because much Christian teaching on work is still thin and compartmentalized, this often happens. We need to correct this by affirming that we are not to compartmentalize our work and our faith, as though God’s call on us applies only in the area of church and our personal lives. Further, if we were able to recapture the compelling biblical vision of work in the church, it would do wonders for the effectiveness of our testimony to the gospel before the world.
I love how Dorothy Sayers makes these points in Why Work:
How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of life?
The church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.
What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.
Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly — but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? [Great point! Shoddy and careless workmanship is an insult to God because it misrepresents his nature and pervasive concern for all areas of life.]
No crooked table-legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could any one believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.
Yet in her own buildings, in her own ecclesiastical art and music, in her hymns and prayers, in her sermons and in her little books of devotion, the church will tolerate, or permit a pious intention to excuse, work so ugly, so pretentious, so tawdry and twaddling, so insincere and insipid, so bad as to shock and horrify any decent craftsman.
And why? Simply because she has lost all sense of the fact that the living and eternal truth is expressed in work only so far as the work is true in itself, to itself, to the standards of its own technique. She has forgotten that the secular vocation is sacred.