There are so many things that are wrong with our culture. Some are overt, while others are quite subtle. One of those subtle problems is the attitude that is often displayed toward work. We are told to just “half do” our jobs, and to try to get away with as little as we can and still hold on to our jobs. It’s even become considered acceptable to pilfer “small” things from work and still be considered honest.
The Bible sets a much higher standard, though. In a world that teaches us to compartmentalize our lives, the Bible makes it clear that all of our life is to be lived to God’s glory.
That includes our work. In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”
In context, Paul is writing about various earthly relationships, and these words are found in the midst of a discussion to slaves who are Christians. That small insight adds even greater depth to this passage. Some of us may have bosses who are mean, but few of us have leaders who could honestly be compared to slave-drivers (though we sometimes jokingly use that terminology).
But what does it mean to work “for the Lord?” How does that stand in contrast to the world in which we live? Consider these 5 important practices when working for the Lord:
1. Be totally honest.
Yes, totally honest! When you are turning in an expense report, Christians must be totally honest about what was personal and what was business-related. When we are in an interview, we are not to embellish the truth or lie about our past accomplishments and/or failures. When we make a mistake on the job, we must be honest enough to own up to our part of that mistake and live with the possible consequences. A Christian would not dare to “fudge” his time card, mileage, or research sources.
2. Find joy in your labors.
I am not saying that every day on the job is going to be a walk in the park. Work isn’t always fun! But as a teacher, banker, garbage man, preacher, or in any other position we can show Christ in our work – and joy will follow. Christians should find joy because they are living with purpose and have an opportunity to shine the light of Christ wherever they may be.
3. Build close relationships.
We need to work while on the job, but on breaks or trips we need to be people who are trying to build relationships with our coworkers, vendors and customers. Jesus was the greatest relationship-builder of all time, and He expects us to try to build into the lives of others. We should not mix social and business (unless such is allowed), but we can be the kindest, most honest, and most caring worker that our bosses, subordinates and customers have ever seen. That will cause them to want to get to know us – and hopefully Christ – better.
4. Serve others – even those below you.
Jesus worked very hard while He was here on the earth, but His primary work was serving. He made a difference because He put the needs of others first. A good worker is one who sees a problem and tries to be part of the solution. God has called His people to always be serving, and that includes on the job. Do not pass up an opportunity to do good to anyone (cf. Galatians 6:10).
5. Be a good steward of God’s resources.
Often, when we think about stewardship, we think only in terms of money. God has blessed us with other things, too, that He expects us to manage well. That includes our time and abilities, both of which are on display in our jobs. Working unto the Lord means that I am going to be a good steward of the time God has given me, redeeming it for His glory. It means that I am not going to waste the talents and abilities that God has given me, and with which I am blessed to earn a living for my family and myself.
Each of these five practices stand in stark contrast to the prevailing mood of our society toward work. May God’s people always work heartily, because we are working for the Lord!
Does your job make it difficult for you to work for the Lord? How are you doing shining His light in your workplace? Leave a comment and let us know!