I’m a fan of all the Night at the Museum movies. Now I don’t like all of Ben Stiller’s work, but I do like many of his projects, the Museum trilogy being one of them. When you think of these films, what most often comes to mind is comedy, creativity, historical artifacts, and of course Robin William’s last performance in a movie. However, the main idea that jumps out to me is identity and purpose in your work/career. Larry (Stiller’s character) struggles to find and keep a job, but more than that he hasn’t found purpose in anything that he does. This is hard for him mainly because he wants his son to look up to him, and not having a ‘good’ job isn’t helping. The job at the Museum becomes his saving grace, in more ways than one. Larry discovers who he is while at the same time a job he can feel good about. But the struggle doesn’t stop; in the second movie, we find that Larry has moved on to the business world. He begins to be dissatisfied with his job and wants ‘more’. Jebediah, his small museum friend, reminds Larry that his place is in the Museum and that they need him there – that the museum needs him and he needs the museum
Why does Larry continue to struggle? Because our culture tells us that the better our job is, the better we are, the more money we make, the more significant we are.
If we’re not careful, we get stuck in the trap of defining who we are by what we do. It’s not bad to love your work or be proud of your job, it’s a good thing, however, defining yourself by your work (solely) would be a mistake. This would be like defining yourself by your stuff or your material possessions. Rather than finding significance from what we do, we should bring significance to what we do.
If we jump back to Genesis 1:26-31 we find God’s week of creation ending off on a high note – he creates man & woman. He creates us and then gives us something to do, work. As we read the closing part of that section we are reminded about where our identity really comes from.
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
We are made in HIS image and we are GOOD. Humanity has been trying to get back to that ever since. After the fall in Genesis 3 we have been longing for redemption, restoration, wholeness and IDENTITY. Jesus is the climax of this longing. fast forward to the gospels and we discover that Jesus is the only one who brings those things back to us.
John 15 says that we are no long servants, but we are his friends…chosen. Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love we have in Christ Jesus. Nothing. And 1 John 3:1 reminds us that God’s love is lavished on us, and because of Jesus we can be called God’s children. “That’s what we are”.
So because of that truth, because of that new reality, because of Jesus, we can view work in a different way, not a place to find ourselves, but a place to ‘bring’ ourselves, an activity where our identity in Jesus makes a difference, no matter what we do for a living.
Work now becomes…
your part…is a way to build up and build into society – to make the human
community better…sacred…not just church work, but all work is an avenue to
is God’s work
gifts and skills
the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything;
and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with
sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever
you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human
masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an
inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are
question, ‘what is it that you want me to do?’, it is equally important to ask,
‘please make whatever I am doing pleasing to you?’. Finding the balance between these two questions is
finding our meaning and purpose in our work
other way around” In other words, work doesn’t define us, we define
our work. We do that because of what Jesus has done to define us.