Nick was born into a well-to-do family in Torún, Poland. His father was a very successful business man, but he passed away unexpectedly when Nick was just 10 years old. So Nick was sent to live with his uncle, an Episcopalian Bishop, who saw to his education and upbringing from that day forward.
Nick’s uncle made sure he attended college where he initially studied art, mathematics, religion, and humanities. But Nick also developed a side fascination – astronomy. He began collecting all kinds of books on the subject and consuming all the knowledge he could find about this new astronomical fascination.
While skipping his classes in cannon law (be honest, those sound like classes you would blow off too), Nick became fast friends with a master astronomer who began mentoring him. Nick worked as his assistant, and the two began using their mathematical calculations to challenge one of the most fundamental astronomical theories of the day…
…that the earth was the center of the universe.
The year was 1500.
Even though this “Heliocentric theory of the universe” was proposed as early as the 3rd Century B.C., Nick – historically known as Nicolaus Copernicus – felt he was finally able to prove it. And this discovery disrupted everything. Not only did it change astronomical theory, it actually changed the way human beings thought about themselves.
No longer could humanity see itself and its world as the center, the constant that everything else revolved around. On a foundational, scientific level, human beings had to face the fact that their entire existence is supported by a tiny, spinning, almost inconsequential, mass in an immeasurable, vast, unexplored universe. It was a humbling declaration to say the least.
Revisionist history has turned the story of Copernicus into a battle between science and religion. And while it’s true that the Catholic Church banned Copernicus’s works for nearly 200 years, the pushback was really universal because the “earth at the center” was really all that could be tangibly observed at the time.
The truth is, no one believed the earth revolved around the sun, let alone that the sun was just another star in a vast, expanding universe. It just wasn’t observable scientifically. It wasn’t logical. And let’s be honest, it probably just didn’t “feel right” either. The Copernican Revolution didn’t just change science, it changed how the human race saw itself in relationship to a much greater whole.
OUR PERSONAL COPERNICAN REVOLUTION
The truth is, we all need our own “Copernican Revolution.” One of the reasons we struggle to find meaning in our work is because we see ourselves as the center of our own story. And that’s understandable. I see the world through my lens, through my eyes, through my experiences. Every camera shot is from my perspective.
I am the center, the protagonist, the star of my “movie.” The rest of you are just my supporting cast. I’m thankful for you, but let’s be honest, if you come or go, if your part is written in or out of the script, it may impact the storyline a bit but it doesn’t change the fact that this story is propelled forward by me. I mean, I’m grateful for your help and all, but it’s my face on the movie poster. Sorry.
And you’re likely saying the same thing about me today, too. Maybe not overtly, but intuitively. Our sin nature puts the “self” at the center of everything. The rest of the world revolves around us.
FINDING OUR WORK IN GOD’S WORK
So we look at our job, our career, our every day work, and the question we’re inherently asking is: Does this work fit the story I am writing about myself? Does it fulfill me? Does it make me happy? Does it give me worth? Does it give me more power or autonomy? Does it fit my identity or the way I see or want to see myself?
And since nothing outside of God Himself can truly carry the ultimate weight of our identity, the answer is always no.
When it comes to our everyday work, we need a “Copernican Revolution.” We are not the main characters in a story we are writing about ourselves. We are beloved members of the supporting cast in a divine, cosmic narrative God has been unfolding since the beginning of time! That is pretty epic, but it requires a pretty major perspective shift.
We will never find fulfillment and meaning in our daily work until we place our own story inside of God’s story. The earth is really a tiny, little planet that revolves around the Sun in a solar system that is part of a massive and expanding universe. And our lives are beautiful, little stories that revolve around the meta-narrative of the Creator Himself. It’s His face on the movie poster, and we will only find the joy in our work when we place our work (and our entire lives) inside of Him.
Do yourself a favor and surrender the central role.