Is Your Work Meaningless?

Have you ever been to the beach on vacation? One popular activity with children is to build sand castles down near the water. You will sometimes find the parents helping them, but more often the parents are sitting back watching or reading a book. I believe it is a subconscious dislike of meaningless work that causes this. Have you considered that?

Meaningless Work

Building Sand Castles

What usually happens is that the kids get started in the smooth, hard-packed sand when the tide is out. I guess this offers a better foundation and is easier to build upon.

They have their buckets and shovels and make frequent trips back and forth to the water. As they form walls and parapets and moats, they seem like they are in another world. In fact, the kids can stay like this for hours if allowed. Sometimes they will even try to miss a meal to keep going!

The problem comes later when the tide starts coming in. Initially, the water starts attacking the base of the castle, eroding the walls. Eventually, the waves overrun the walls and fill the moats with such force that the whole castle is destroyed. Within hours, there is no sign a castle ever existed there.

Not As Exciting For Parents?

My question – why is this not as exciting for parents as it is for the kids? Sure, there is an element of excitement for a parent as they see their kids having fun. But why don’t parents do this without their kids? Why aren’t the kids begging to go back to the room while the parents continue to work on the sand castle?

I am convinced that parents understand how meaningless it is to work hard to create something that will certainly be destroyed within hours. I believe, whether they consciously consider it or not, they know it is meaningless because they will have nothing to show for their work the next day.

Does this make sense? Do you think this same idea may also apply to our work in the marketplace? Have you ever stopped to think about it?

Work Is Meaningless

The author of Ecclesiastes (likely Solomon) certainly thought about this. In fact, he sought all there was in life – all pleasures, wealth, work, etc., and found that all of it was meaningless.

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.”
Ecclesiastes 12:8

Many of us have found the same to be true about our work at first. For some, revelation that there was more to it came at an early age. For others, this revelation came later. For many, they cannot see it.

The truth is that (according to Scripture) your work, in and of itself, is meaningless. All that you work for and achieve in this world will burn one day and there will be no reward for it in eternity. Whether you like it or not, this is what the Bible says. Check out 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 to see the basis for this.

There Is Hope!

Fortunately, there is another verse in Ecclesiastes that gives us hope. If this is true, then we can hope to bring more people to the realization that all work is not meaningless.

He has also set eternity in the human heart;
Ecclesiastes 3:11

God put eternity in our hearts. The way I understand this, there is an eternal hole or void in our hearts. We have it from birth and nothing can fill it but Him. No work, wealth, pleasure or achievement can fill that void, no matter how hard we try.

Eternal Perspective

However, once we fill that void through a salvation experience with Jesus, all sorts of opportunities open up to us. Suddenly, our work CAN matter! It is no longer meaningless if we approach it from an eternal perspective!

We first need to realize that our work, to the extent that it points others to God and a relationship with His Son, can have eternal meaning AND create eternal reward! Once we realize this, we can begin working through our jobs and businesses to have impact on people for eternity.

Share With Others!

Then, as we gain more clarity on how this works, we need to begin sharing this realization with others. Can you imagine what it could look like if all the Christians you know in the business world began doing their jobs and running their businesses with an eternal purpose?

I can tell you that this very idea is what drives me to keep writing this blog. It is the hope that others can come to the realization that their work does not have to be meaningless. It can have a dramatic eternal impact if they will simply turn it over to God and follow His lead!

Have you come to this realization regarding meaningless work?

If so, who have you shared it with?

If not, I encourage you to pray about it! Will you?


Photo by Vladimir_Timofeev / iStock

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  • The passage from Paul to the Corinthians pointed to one reality, which we all should understand, there can be but one foundation of truth and understanding. Our lives cannot be built upon any other foundation. There is but one foundation that allows us to survive the testing of eternity. That foundation is the author of our faith, Jesus Christ. I know there have been times I have tried to alter the foundation or try to build outside of the architect’s foundation, but only discovered how unstable the structure we build becomes. Christ is the cornerstone which secures our lives to His foundation of truth and understanding. Anything else is absolutely meaningless! Good message Chris. It pointed me to Matthew 7:24-29, “Two Foundations” – sand versus rock.

  • I struggle doing anything that isn’t dripping with depth of meaning. I’ve learned that to a great extent, that’s part of my personality. Balancing that depth of meaning with the idea that it’s not always what we do but how we do it that matters is important to realize too.

  • A really powerful post. Sometimes with our tasks we don’t see the end result and it can seem meaningless. Our bosses don’t always connect us to the broader vision. And sometimes work is just work cuz stuff just has to be done

  • Bob Sherbondy

    The only way that one’s work can have any significant “meaning” or eternal value is to have it anointed by God. I’m a retired minister, but my current ministry is to publish and to manage a website about “Christianity and what is good forever”. The only way that anything that I write and publish on that website can have any value is for it to be anointed by God, not for it to be implemented by technical SEO rules of code, although they can be helpful to get them read.