“What do you do?”


“What do you do?” we sometimes find ourselves asking perfect strangers.

Immediately upon meeting someone new, this question is quite often the second one – after the also-standard inquiry about one’s name – to leap unthinkingly from our lips: “What do you do?”

Maybe there is a very good reason why we ask this question. What we do says something real about who we are. Sometimes it even speaks to what we value most, but it always at least says something about what we spend a lot of time doing. And when you spend that much time doing anything, it can’t help but shape your heart in certain ways. With good reason, we assume nurses care about and have some unspeakable acquaintance with health, accountants with numbers, farmers with the soil. “What do you do?”

That leads me to think there’s something else that lies beneath the surface here: we can leave the individual and her occupation behind for a moment and look to something deeper, something that all of us as human beings share. What are we supposed to do? What are we here for?

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
— Westminster Shorter Catechism

As Christians, I think our answer to the question of what we are supposed to do, is that we are supposed to worship. Our vocation as humans is praise. That is not just something that we are supposed to do, it is the main thing that we are supposed to do because it is who we are, or at least it is who we were created to be. Augustine, the fourth century church father, once prayed, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” To be a human being is first and foremost to be called to the activity of worship. Whether we answer that calling, whether we fulfill this our most fundamental vocation is up to us and our perennially restless hearts.

And just like any vocation, what really matters here is what you wake up and work at every day, how you organize your time and energy on any given Monday, how prayer and the Scriptures (especially the Psalms) work their way into your routines so that they can, over time, work their way more deeply into your heart. In this way, by God’s grace, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are being restored into the kind of creatures we were designed to be – namely, those who worship and praise, those who find their rest in God.

So, my friends: What do you do?