vocation

Don’t Think Your Job Matters? Here’s Why It Does

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My toddler occasionally watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it, think animated Mr. Rogers with a preschool tiger.) One day I heard the characters singing this jingle:

Everyone’s job is important. We all help… in different ways.

My ears perked up, so I sat down to watch alongside my son. I learned that Daniel wanted to be the line leader. But when he received a different classroom job, he was disappointed. By the end of the episode, he learned that some classroom jobs are less glamorous, but all of them are important.

This lesson is simple enough. So simple, in fact, that the show’s creators put it to music. But believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.

Believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.

To wit: I once worked in a support role at a large church. Exciting ministry was going on all around me. But I wasn’t involved in the ministry itself; I was the one scrubbing toilets, mopping floors and moving tables when the crowds had dispersed.

Now I knew that this job was important. I knew that these tasks allowed ministry to occur at the church. I even knew that these tasks were ministry in and of themselves. But believing this truth was much more difficult.

Maybe you have a hard time believing your job is important, too.

Here’s what I mean: It’s easy to say that your job is important when you’re a manager, banker, business owner or CEO and your work is prestigious.

It’s even easy to say that your job is important when you’re a teacher, pastor, counselor or non-profit worker whose work has an immediate, visible impact for the common good.

But it’s much harder to believe your job is important when you’re flipping burgers, stocking shelves, paving roads, nailing pieces of wood together or even changing dirty diapers — and no one cares or notices.

It’s hard to believe your job is important when no one cares or notices.

So, Daniel Tiger, is everyone’s job really important? To put it another way, does all our work matter to God?

I don’t think we’re the first people to pose this question. In fact, the Corinthian church was wrestling with a similar one: Was everyone’s job in the church really important?

The Apostle Paul responded with a resounding yes. He wrote them these words:

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

Yes, Paul explained, everyone’s job in the church is important. Every church member is like a different part of the body. Some parts of the body are less glamorous than others (I’m looking at you, elbow), but all of them are important.

Paul went even further:

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
(1 Corinthians 12:21-25)

Did you catch that? Some people’s roles are less glamorous. But these less glamorous roles deserve the greatest honor — because they are indispensable.

To be clear, Paul is talking about our vocations within the church. But a similar principle is at play in our vocations in the workplace. Your job may be less glamorous, but your role is indispensable.

  • I wasn’t simply cleaning toilets. I was enabling gospel-centered ministry to happen.
  • You’re not simply flipping burgers. You’re providing food for everyone else.
  • You’re not simply stocking shelves. You’re supplying people with items they need in their homes and work.
  • You’re not simply paving roads. You’re enabling people to travel to work and commercial goods to be shipped cross-country.
  • You’re not simply nailing pieces of wood together. You’re crafting a shelter from the elements.
  • And you’re not simply changing dirty diapers. You’re investing in a young child’s life.
Your work is God’s means of providing for your family, community and the entire world.

Maybe you think your job doesn’t matter. But your work is God’s means of providing for your family, community and the entire world.

Yes, Daniel Tiger. Everyone’s job is important. And we all do help in different — but wonderful — ways.

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Nathaniel Williams

Editor and Content Manager for the CFC

Nathaniel Williams (M.Div, Southeastern Seminary) oversees the website, podcast and social media for the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and he serves as the pastor of Cedar Rock First Baptist Church. His work has appeared at Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Fathom Mag, the ERLC and BRNow.org. He and his family live in rural North Carolina.

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