alabama shakes

Working from the Soul

By Kevin Howellalabama shakes

I was watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a couple of weeks ago, mainly because Charlie Sheen was a guest and I wanted to see if he was still loco. A blues-rock group called the Alabama Shakes was the musical guest and they closed the show with a great performance. Lead singer Brittany Howard’s performance was gripping. She poured her heart and soul into that song.

There’s something about watching an artist give it his/her all on stage. You not only see the passion they have for the music, but also the intimate connection their souls have with the lyrics. They sing, rap, or play like something deep inside them needs to get out. And when it does, the beauty of it is shared with the world.


Sometimes we feel like artists are the lucky ones. As though their craft is the only true labor of love.  We’re not as captivated watching an accountant do our taxes — it’s just not the same. But the truth is, there is beauty, love, passion, and excellence found in all work; it’s just not as overt as an on-stage performance. The Apostle Paul hinted at this in his letter to the Colossians. Addressing servants, he said: “Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily from the soul, as something done for the Lord and not for men…” (Col. 3:23, Amplified).

Your current profession or task — whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or an ER surgeon — is a gift from God. It may not be as sexy as playing guitar for The Roots, but it’s no less significant, and your work is no less beautiful. The key to making your work meaningful, to birthing something beautiful from your labor is the source of your inspiration.

For me, there are two keys to keeping the Lord in mind when I work:

1. Gratitude
We must be grateful we have a job, or even if you’re not employed, grateful for having physical ability to perform a task. Gratitude for what the Lord has gifted you to do inspires you to work diligently. I recall a friend telling me about a recovering drug addict who, after months of job searching, got a job at a retail store. That guy worked so hard sweeping the floors he’d be dripping with sweat. He was so grateful for employment, he gave his all in gratitude.

2. Work from the soul
To work from the soul, as Paul wrote, is not just to utilize our talents and abilities, but to dig deep within and give of ourselves. To throw all of whom you are into your work. The best artists do this, and that’s why they are inspiring. How inspiring can we be if we offer our very selves in our vocations?

Author Joseph Nassal put it best in this passage on St. Joseph:

“Joseph the Worker left his signature in the sawdust of his carpenter’s shop just as surely as farmers leave their signatures on the fields they plow, as potters leave their signatures on the vases they create, cooks on the meals they prepare, writers on their books… massage therapists on the bodies they touch, teachers on the students they teach, janitors on the floors they sweep… All work is sacred when the work is accomplished with great love.”

Your work is sacred. It can inspire and produce beauty no matter how technical or mundane it seems. As long as you work at it from your soul, doing it unto God, with great love.

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3 thoughts on “Working from the Soul”

  1. Good stuff, bro! It’s often challenging to remember that ALL work can be soul inspiring and uplifting when we remember to keep God at the center of it. There are a few editing tasks at work that I LOATHE with all my heart, but remembering to be grateful to have a job AND to see these tough tasks as building blocks for my path is the key to doing them well (and with a bit more humility!)

    Thanks for the reminder, Kev!

  2. I also started reading DeVon Franklin’s “Produced by Faith.” Great book about combining faith, passion, and your career.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article Leah. It’s still very much a challenge for me. I have my good periods, and bad periods. But thank God for grace! I’ll have to look into that book. Combining faith with career is something that’s been near to my heart lately.

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