Some people love work, thrive off of it, find their identity in it, and spend countless hours plotting and planning how they will succeed at work.
Others detest work, view it as a necessary evil, a means to an end, and spend time dreading the seemingly long hours spend at their work places.
Whether we like it or not, work is a part of life.
Without work, there would be no way to provide for ourselves and our families. A proper beginning of any discussion about work should accurately define the term being used. Work is “being engaged in a physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result.”
As a millennial beginning my career in Washington D.C., I’ve wrestled through how my relationship with the Lord impacts my 9 -5 in the workplace. Questions have floated through my mind like,
“Does my work even matter?”
“How can and should my Christianity affect my work?”
“Will I be more ‘holy’ if I work in a ministry position?”
“How can I be a good witness for the Lord in the workplace?”
In Washington D.C., the first question anyone ever asks me is, “Where do you work?” Immediately, I’m judged based off my answer. Either people will nod and smile in approval, or a flicker of disgust will cross their face before recovering and returning back to small talk. My world is all about who you know, what you do, where you work, etc. The workplace can have a lot of pressure, and when I moved to D.C., I was at a loss as to how my Christian faith should and could change the way I approached my work.
As Christians, our identity is in the Lord. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), and our relationship with the Lord should touch everything in our lives – the words we say, the deeds we do, the ways in which we spend our time and money, our relationships, etc. We are not our own anymore; we’ve been purchased with the precious blood of Christ, and now our King is the ruler of our lives. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Because I’m not my own anymore and I have the high privilege of serving the Lord with my life, I want to learn what the Lord says about work, and how I as a Christian should approach work.
1) Work Matters
Work was ordained by God before the fall.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”- Genesis 2:15
By its very nature, work innately is a good thing. God created work and designed man to engage in the holy activity of working and bringing glory to His name by representing His character in work. God Himself worked when He created the earth. However, sin marred and tainted how humans view work, resulting in either an over or under emphasis placed upon work.
Twentieth-century man needs to be reminded at times that work is not the result of the Fall. Man was made to work, because the God who made him was a “working God.” Man was made to be creative, with his mind and his hands. Work is part of the dignity of his existence.” – Sinclair Ferguson
2) Your Work Says Something About You
As a Christian, how you handle yourself in the workplace says something about you, your character, and your God. What are you communicating to your co-workers and boss? Are you communicating that you understand that work is a God-given blessing, and that you’re going to steward it well?
Most of us over or under value work, resulting in an imbalanced perspective and mishandling of work. On one hand, people can be completely absorbed in their jobs and work and find their entire identity in who they work for, what they do, etc. Long hours will be put in at the office, and friends and family ignored, all while a career ladder is trying to be climbed. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who hate working, who see their jobs as a means to an end and are lazy or unmotivated at work.
Christians should fight for a balanced perspective on work, seeking to represent the King well and work hard, but ultimately understanding that our identity and purpose comes from Him. We must understand that we not only represent ourselves at the office, we also represent Christ, and we should strive to do that well.
3) Work Hard for the Glory of God
God commands His children not only to work, but to work hard and with excellence.
“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. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24
It can be so counter-cultural to work hard (doing “just enough to get by” can be a prevalent attitude – especially among millennials.), but what’s even more strange is to work hard for someone else’s glory.
Christians don’t work for their fame or glory, they serve the Lord.
Christians can trust that working for God’s glory will be enough to sustain and satisfy them.
One of my favorite quotes about working hard is by Martin Luther King Jr. who said,
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Beloved, may we be people who work hard and work well for God’s glory. May we strive to live each day on purpose. May we conduct our work as if we really believe that Christ is our true boss. May we long for the day when we’ll hear the words, “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”.
Read More at the My Faith and My Calling: An Interchannel Dialogue About Vocation and Faith
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