For a long time, I have struggled with my work and calling at Quiet Graces Photography. I love my work. The only things that make me happier than waking up on the morning of photoshoot are Jesus and Saturday morning snuggles with my little family. It makes me come alive to capture pregnant mamas, new babies, and the miracle of a child’s first year.
But in the church world, secular work seems secondary. People are dying without knowing Christ and I’m a just a photographer. I’m not a preacher or a missionary or a teacher of His word. I have yet to feel called to write books about His glory in the day to day. I’m just a photographer.
When I struggle with this “less than” calling, Satan likes to slither up into a branch and whisper his lies to me. “Oh, Melissa. You just doing that petty work of taking pictures… what good does it do for the God you say you love? Oh, and did I mention that extra income you’re earning? You don’t need that. You know your husband provides enough. You’re selfish and materialistic. There’s no place for that in the His Kingdom.”
The doubt, fears, and these lies almost make me want to quit doing what I love.
Why, Lord, did you gift me with photography and call me to pursue that? How does that fit in your Kingdom? How do any of these dreams not relating to direct advance of Your Kingdom fit?
One Sunday I walked into church and Jesus stood there and answered those questions for me.
In the following sermon, you can see where God grabbed my attention with a short video from For the Life of the World: Letters to Exiles at 33:25 . The rest of the sermon is fantastic too so if you like podcasts click here. 😉
Let me give you a quick summary. In this video series, Evan is on a quest to find out what it means to live in this world as a exile- a citizen of heaven. He tackles a bunch of hard questions regarding life by interviewing some experts. At then end of this adventure, Evan writes a letter to the other “exiles”. This, coupled with the powerful visual representation of our work relationships in the video, is where I literally started holding back tears at the glory of His plan for economy (and I’m not a crier!).
‘Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not,neither do they spin; but I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ (Luke 12:27).
Jesus commands us not to be anxious about our needs, then why do we toil? Merely to tend our bodies? Or also to shape our souls?
In giving us work, God invites us to blend the creativity of our minds with the labor of our bodies. Then, God invites us to share this labor with one another in free exchange. To make real our communal nature, our gift nature through our personal callings.
We must never see our work as simply a way to gain. We must never see our labor as an impersonal force of efficiency. We must never see our work merely as mechanism we might control with levels and switches of power.
In all our work together, what we call the economy, that’s not a machine either. Work is always personal because work is always relational. Whether you’re a janitor or a CEO or a programmer, work is creative service.
So let us cherish our work as the glorious gift it is. The opportunity to join with others, literally millions of others, in a divine project of vast creativity, vast abundance for the meeting of needs. For the flourishing of cities. For the life of the world.
Let us see every product, every purchase, for what it is a touch point a nexus of millions of relationships. At every moment, you are surrounded with the fruit of a great and gracious collaboration. At every moment, you are being reminded that you are not alone, and that you are never meant to be.
(Seriously, stop and watch the film if you can. This letter just doesn’t do justice to the full weight of the film.)
So let me re-frame my secular calling for you in light of this letter.
I am just a photographer.
That means that a new mama hires me. I enter into relationship with her. I pour into her life through photographing her miracle baby just days after birth and encourage her through a new mama series sent to her via email while I process her images.
I’ve used props in my studio made by others using silk, or yarn, or wool from a sheep, or fabric which we all processed into those materials by other laborers and farmers. I’ve taken those images using a Sony camera whose parts were conceived by people collaborating all over the world. I process those images on a computer that my husband built from similar collaborations. I am using Adobe and Microsoft software created by thousands more people.
I place the images on a USB crafted by more people in a box hand crafted by a woodworker with a bracelet crafted by a friend with their child’s name on it. The box also contains a set of proofs printed by people at a lab who purchased paper from a forester and ink from inkmakers. If they order an album or a print in addition to their digital files even, more people are collaborating to create the products I provide to my customers.
Do you see that?
I’m just a photographer who God has used to serve and celebrate one client’s miracle baby while earning my living, but who also is responsible for helping millions of others use their creativity and labor to earn their living as I create my final products.
My work is about relationships. Your work is about relationships. Kingdom relationships. Relationships where God provides the needs of millions so that that they might know hear His story and come to know Him.
Our work, our dreams (even the secular ones) are bringing about His purposes and magnifying His glory. (<====Click To Tweet)
Shared By: Melissa Aldrich