Theologian John Piper responds to a question asked by a longtime listener of his podcast, whether a believer could ever be called by God to a lifelong career for which they do not enjoy.
"God does not like begrudging, joyless service," Piper says, quoting Psalms 100:2 and Romans 12:8. in his podcast.
"But I think the implication in the Bible is not mainly that we should refuse to work until we find the work that we think we can enjoy, but that we should take the work that we can for the good of the family, the good of the community, the glory of God, and then pray our way into the enjoyment of it and shape it in whatever way we can so that it becomes more fruitful and more enjoyable," argues the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
In 1 Corinthians 7:21 Paul says that if a slave can obtain his freedom he should do so, which shows that Paul did not consider it ideal that we labor in a role that is miserable, explains Piper, who served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for 33 years. "Nevertheless, the main counsel that Paul and Peter gave to slaves and to the rest of us … is this: 'So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, let him there remain with God.' And the key words are 'with God.'"
Piper remarks that the question the listener asked is applicable mostly in the "prosperous West."
"One of the most surprising features of our culture which visitors from the two-thirds world are amazed at when they come is the stunning number of choices we have — choices in hundreds of kinds of cereals and fruits and vegetables and cars and houses and theaters and every manner of appliance and device," Piper says. "And we tend to take all these choices for granted. Most places in the world, people do not have 100 possibilities in front of them for how to make a living. They may have one or two or three options given their village and the family they are in and the society they are in and, therefore, the question that was asked represents a very western question."
Piper, author of more than 50 books, concludes by saying that God intends to give His people joy and thankfulness and a sense of usefulness in whatever He calls them to, just as Paul knew how to be content in every circumstance, as written in Philippians 4:11. "This is the essence of the Christian life: finding contentment in Christ and turning every circumstance and all of our work into living worship."