Work in any culture is…well, work. Sometimes enjoyable. Often hard and exhausting. Sometimes challenging because of the people with whom you work rather than the work itself. When you’re working with your God-given skills, all work can be an expression of your devotion to God. And, adorning yourself with godliness applies to your work.
More Than a Paycheck
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Your workplace, wherever that may be, is your mission field. Your work environment is where you must intentionally practice letting Jesus live His life through you—in difficult situations, with challenging people, and with integrity that honors the Lord Jesus Christ.
A few truths about any kind of work
It always helps to know a few truths about work—any kind of work.
Truth #1: Work is God’s idea. God is a worker. God created work in the beginning before sin ever entered into His world. Work is good. Sin corrupted work so it got a lot harder to do. Then, Jesus came along to renew us and restore our approach to work as He lives in us and through us. We are free to work for God’s glory now.
Truth #2: Work is an avenue for accomplishing God’s mission. When Jesus commissioned all of His followers to make disciples everywhere they went, none of them were on church staff or in mission organizations. They were ordinary people going to work every day. In the same way, we are Jesus’ ambassadors at work—in the conference room, on the hospital floor, at the lunch break, on the playground, and in the kitchen. As we do our work with integrity and intentionally build relationships with our coworkers, clients or family members, Jesus is actively involved in that. Work is your mission field and your platform to let Christ live His life through you.
Truth #3: Work is the place where God grows us into maturity. The Spirit of God uses our relationships, successes, failures, and experiences at work as tools in our spiritual growth. He teaches us to have the mind of Christ at work, to treat people as Jesus did, and to grow in our jobs under His guidance. God uses our work to mature us.
Truth #4: Work has purpose beyond ourselves. God can do more with our work than we can imagine. God designed work for the good of the world—not just for ourselves. Our work impacts the people in our work environment, our clients, and our managers. Work provides jobs, fuels the economy, and allows culture to flourish. When we work, we can taste the goodness of God intended for work in the beginning.
Truth #5: Work is where we practice godliness. All those exhortations in 1 Timothy 4:12—setting an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity—all those apply at work. In Colossians 3:17, we are reminded to do everything we say or do in light of Jesus as Lord. Jesus is Lord over our work. Employees or managers, Jesus is Lord over your work. Business owners, Jesus is Lord over your business. So, your work represents your devotion to Him. It is worship. And, we glorify Him as we do our jobs well.
Truth #6: Work can become an addiction that takes the focus off of Christ and puts it on yourself instead. You know that you have let work become an addiction when you are obsessively thinking about freeing up more time for your work. When you develop health problems because of work-related stress and over work, that’s not working for the Lord. Another clue is when you use your work to maintain your self-worth. The modern term for that is workism. Workism is the belief that your work is the center of your identity. For a Christian, your work is never the center of your identity. Christ is. So, if you recognize this in yourself, go to the Lord and ask Him to free you from the addiction. Talk to a counsellor about this as well.
What if you are retired from income-producing work? How is your attitude toward the work that you did? Are you bad-mouthing it? Or, can you now look back with gratitude that you had that opportunity to worship God with your work?
A few questions about faith in the workplace
How do you live out your faith in your workplace? As I mentioned before, you do that by adorning yourself with the godly behavior you’ve seen taught in 1 Timothy. That’s recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord of your life and your behavior. Let Him live His life through you to invite others around you to want to know Him. Ask Jesus to help you do that and trust Him to work in you and through you.
What is legal to do at work? Go to org to find out what is legal for a Christian to do in any workplace. That’s firstliberty.org. You might be surprised by what you can legally do to live out your faith in the marketplace. And be grateful.
How do you invest in your co-workers without stealing time from your employer? You use whatever break time or interaction opportunities you have available to get to know your co-workers and minister to them. Ask Jesus to help you be creative and caring. I have several Bible Studies you could offer that are short and easy and would fit nicely in a lunch hour time frame.
What if you hate what you do for work? That’s where you submit yourself to Jesus Christ as Lord over you and even over that job. Let Him teach you how to be thankful for that work or lead you to something else. Whatever He brings into your life that makes you more dependent upon Him is good for you. Work is a great environment to learn that.
Remember this. Your work belongs to Jesus. He will enable you to find purpose in it that brings glory to Him. So, keep working diligently, producing what is needed, providing for yourself and others, and preparing the way for others to see Christ in you. Godliness views work as more than a paycheck. It has a greater purpose. Are you onboard with that?
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with such love for God that you will want to live a life that pleases Him.