281) Good Work

By Dorothy Sayers, British writer (1893-1957), Creation or Chaos, 1949, pages 56-57.

     The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.  What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.  By all means he should go to church, and he should certainly find for himself decent forms of amusement– but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry?  No crooked table-legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare say, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth.  Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth.  No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.


Mark 6:3a  —  “Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son…?” 

Colossians 3:23-24  —  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I Peter 4:10–11  —  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen. 


A MORNING PRAYER FOR LABORERS:  O God, we thank you for the sweet refreshment of sleep and for the glory and vigor of the new day.  As we set our faces once more toward our daily work, we pray for strength sufficient for our tasks.  May Christ’s spirit of duty and service ennoble all we do.  Uphold us by the consciousness that our work is useful work and a blessing to others.  If there has been anything in our work harmful to others and dishonorable to ourselves, reveal it to our inner eye with such clearness that we shall hate it and put it away, even though it be at a loss to ourselves.  When we work with others, help us to regard them not as servants to do our will, but as brothers and sisters, equal to us in human dignity, and equally worthy of their full reward.  May there be nothing in this day’s work of which we shall be ashamed when the sun has set, nor in the evening of our life when our task is done and we to go our long awaited home to see your face.  We pray this in the name of Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.

–Walter Rauschenbusch (alt.), For God and the People: Prayers of the Social Awakening, 1909


O Lord, give your blessing, we pray, to our daily work, that we may do it in faith and heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.  All our powers of body and mind are yours, and we devote them to your service.  Sanctify them, and the work in which we are engaged; and, Lord, so bless our efforts that they may bring forth in us the fruits of true wisdom.  Teach us to seek after truth and enable us to gain it; and grant that while we know earthly things, we may know you, and be known by you, through and in your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.  

–Thomas Arnold (1795-1842)