Pastor and former NFL player Derwin Gray told his congregation Sunday that even amid the “Great Resignation,” Christians should remember that “work is a gift from God.”
In a sermon delivered at the South Carolina-based Transformation Church, Gray spoke on the recent trend in the United States of many people quitting their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Work is a gift from God and hard work is a gift from God,” Gray stated. “Young people, hear me. This is so important. The reward of hard work is hard work. You might not accomplish your goal, but the goal of having your character formed will be.”
“Wherever you are, it’s holy ground. In your classroom, students, listen, teenagers, you’re not just in school just to waste time. That’s an act of worship. Your mind is a gift from God.”
The pastor told younger adults in the audience that achieving their dreams job will take hard work and dedication, just like the generation before them.
“Listen, young people, hear me, this is important; if you’re in your twenties and you’re just now getting your job, you can’t just jump over all the hurdles the 50-year-olds did to one day be where they are,” Gray said.
Before he became a pastor, Gray detailed that his first ministry role in 1999 was reading prayers and writing letters to congregants in a church basement.
“Why do we think all of a sudden, ‘I’m here, OK, God, I’m ready.’ It takes years to build character. In our day of information, often our knowledge supersedes our character. Be careful being an Instagram expert and a life failure,” he emphasized.
“God is not in a rush. God ain’t a microwave. He’s more like a crockpot. You got to marinate.”
Gray highlighted a list from a report he read on common reasons why people are quitting their jobs, among them “toxic” work environments.
Gray said Christians should be set apart in their work environments. He warned that some people will claim to be “Christian,” but their actions will not reflect this title.
“Just because you’re Christian don’t mean you act like a Christian,” he said.
“There are jacked-up people around you where you work. … This is why discipleship and spiritual formation is important, because as a follower of Jesus when you go into the office, you are a light in darkness, not darkness.”
Other reasons why many Americans are leaving jobs, Gray relayed, are job insecurity, reorganization, high levels of innovation that are difficult to keep up with, failure to be recognized for their high-performance levels and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, he said Christians should be patient and not be quick to become frustrated.
“If you’re a Christian, that should be the mark of us ... patience, grace and truth,” he said. “You can tell the truth and be gracious. Being a jerkasaurus is not a part of the fruit of the Spirit.”
Even though many work environments are secular, Gray said this does not mean a Christian should behave in a secular way because the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
“Within you is the operating system of the Father, Son and the Spirit. All that’s true of Jesus Christ is true of you and me. It’s not fair. That’s why it’s called ‘amazing grace,’” Gray said.
“The more we think about Jesus, the more we actually start becoming like Jesus. And the more you think about and the more I think about our failures, our regrets, the more we try to manage our sin, the more we do those things,” he continued. “God wants Christians to have the mind of Christ.”
“One of the big things that hurts Christians is, Sunday is their day for faith, but throughout the week, I’m just hustling and grinding, like everybody else. Sunday is actually to prepare us for the week that we’re walking in a sacred understanding of what it means to follow Christ.”
For the students in the audience, the pastor said, “learning how to study is a gift,” sharing that he wished he could have had a role model guiding him through his academic years.
“I always thought that I was dumb because I stuttered. My grandmother made it to sixth grade. Nobody else was really there to get involved with school. So, who was I going to ask for help in school?” Gray said. “So, I took very easy classes because I didn’t know that my mind was a gift and that studying is a gift.”
“Teenagers, this is your true worship,” he asserted. “When you’re studying your homework, that’s true worship. When you’re really wanting to learn, it’s true worship. You’re not dumb. You’ve just got to open up the access to what God has put inside of you.”
In the past several years, Gray has noticed that some have started to live their lives under the notion of, “You got haters? Prove your haters wrong and succeed.”
But when people allow those haters to be the reasoning behind their hard work, Gray fears they lose sight of why they should be working in the first place.
“That’s a lot of power to give other people, isn’t it?” Gray inquired. “How about instead of trying to prove them wrong, you prove God right? And that we are working for God’s glory.”
Gray noted that some people are hard workers, but it’s in their flesh. They often have a short fuse, and if things don’t go their way, they become angry at God.
“If things don’t go you’re way, you get mad at God. … I wonder if the Lord ever wants to say: ‘Since you want to talk about comparison, talk about Jesus; He had no sin. He was the King of kings. All He did was love, and what did He get? He got lied on. He got betrayed. He got nailed to a cross. But let me tell you this: Because He rose from dead, so can you. So, let’s not talk about how hard you’re working,’” he preached.
“We live in a broken world. The world is not what it should be. One day it will, but until that day, He’s present and He’s with us.”