The work God gives you

Rule number two of my guardian’s rules (or the fish sandwich, as was pointed out to me) was “Do the work God gives you.” Of course, defining what work God gives you isn’t as easy as, say, doing the work your boss gives you. If you’re a pizza delivery guy, they give you an address and tell you to drop off two pies, and you know exactly what to do.

The work God gives us doesn’t come with a job description, and if we get a special assignment we can’t pass the buck. The Virgin Mary got a visit from the Archangel Gabriel, and Samuel got called in the middle of the night, and Jeremiah got told to preach. Abraham was ordered to leave his homeland and go to the land God told him. But what about the rest of us?

I have a problem with taking on too much work. We had some fun here a while ago with “overfunctioners anonymous,” but it’s a serious problem because if you’re doing things you shouldn’t be doing, then you’re not doing the work God gave you to do. Even if the other things are good things.

At the very base of matters, I need to be a wife and mother. This is where God put me, and the family God gave me. In general, if you aren’t actively engaged in something evil, you’re in the place God wanted you to be. That means, do the work God put in front of you.

But either due to human nature or due to Satan, we take on more work than we should. Even when that work is good, sometimes it needs to be passed up.

I stumbled across a post from a woman who turned down a foster child placement in her family. She wanted the child; she loved the child; she felt urged by God not to take the child. I read it cold inside, wondering what would become of the child if no one took her, and what if it wasn’t God speaking to her? But because the post was old, I was able to read ahead in her blog to find out what happened: because she didn’t accept that foster placement, she was assigned an emergency foster child who needed her more. And God knew that, because, you know, God is smart. And due to the way the system works, she couldn’t have had both.

I’ve known someone who didn’t listen to that “No, don’t.” It was good work, but it drained her and left her shaken, and afterward, she admitted she’d been ignoring the voice of God.

I wonder this a lot: my weblog is good, but if it interferes with my family, do I drop it? Writing is good, but is it really something God wants me to do? These are good things: but sometimes we have to say no to a good thing because God wants us to do something else.

It’s like that pizza delivery guy. Maybe he would love to cook pizza. A pizza place certainly needs cooks. But his job is delivery. 

I keep feeling directed to do the work that’s right in front of me. Wife to my husband, mother to my children. That’s the work that needs to be done most of all right now. I’m not sure how much “writer” fits into that, and what I’d do if God told me to set it aside.


  1. cricketB

    God did tell you to set writing aside a few times, then He told you to pick it up again. Just like any other boss, He has more than one thing that needs doing, with different levels of importance and urgency.

    I’d love to hear your reaction to McMasters’s Curse of Chalion and sequels. One of the main themes is doing the work the Gods give you, how the Gods assign it, and to whom. Also, their method of on-the-job-training, so you will eventually be able to do the big job.

  2. philangelus

    There are times I’ve been unable to write, like the years after Emily died, because my brain was taken up with too many other things. But I do feel much closer to God when I’m also being a writer.

    There have been other reasons too: I prayed that God would remove any spiritual roadblocks from my heart, and that day my literary agent closed his agency and the next day I got a burning desire to write a secular novel.

    In 2006, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, I asked that God would grant me “the blessings of my vocation” and I really meant “motherhood” and instead that day my novel HAFT got sent to committee with that one publisher (who then hung onto it forever and ever…)

    But at times I wonder if I”m maybe stacking them the wrong way, writer first and then mother. But writing helps me mother them better because I’m more centered. All very strange stuff.

    And that’s beside the other smaller things God gives us to do: “Help this person.” “The food pantry needs shampoo.” “Call your uncle.” “Pray and spend time with me.” Etc.

    I haven’t read Curse of Chalion but I need to — too many people have recommended it. 🙂

    1. Pam

      And God also chose Moses, who was slow of tongue, to do God’s work. I marvel at that, because someone recently told me that God chooses those of with some sort of challenge or obstacle to do the most challenging work.

      I can’t help but feel in my own life that the universe is conspiring to tell me that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now in my life too, though it is confusing and I often feel I need more hours in the day.

      But at the end of the day, I think all I can really do is the best that I can, and if its truly my best, than it is right.


      1. philangelus

        God chooses the weakest people to do the greatest things because then it’s obvious that it’s God who was acting behind the scenes. It’s no big deal if someone strong brings down a giant, right? But when a scrawny kid does it, everyone notices. 🙂

        It does sound from your weblog that you’ve found your heart’s work, and that you’re doing a lot of good with it.

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