Sometimes it seems like nothing could be further from the Christian life than my 8-5 job. My employer is not in any sense Christian or religiously affiliated. I’m pretty sure my boss doesn’t know the Lord, the vast majority of people I work with don’t know the Lord and nothing of eternal significance is ever talked about.
The truth is, even though my job seems to be outside the realm of my Christian faith, nothing could be further from the truth. God likes work and cares greatly what I do while I’m at work.
If you have ever felt like your faith gets put on hold on weekdays from 8-5, here are six ways that you can seek to better glorify God while at work:
1) Realize that work itself is a good thing
It’s easy to think that work itself is a bad thing. It’s not usually fun, it’s almost always difficult, and most of us would almost always rather be doing something else. The truth is that God himself both works, and rests: “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2, emphasis mine). Not only that, but when he first created Adam, his original, perfect design was to have Adam work: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
When you work, whether you are working for an employer, self-employed, volunteering, or just “working” around the house, you are being useful. This is so much better than being idle, which is useless. Don’t get me wrong, rest is a good thing, but it’s only good when it’s acting in harmony with cycles of work. God is a God who creates and contributes. Every good thing given is from him (James 1:17). We are acting in his image when we are creating and contributing. We can do this in may ways outside of a regular 8-5 job, but an 8-5 job definitely falls under the category of creating and contributing.
2) Do your work with all your heart
Here is one thing the apostle Paul had to say on the subject of work: “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). The application of this verse is quite broad: “whatever you do.” This definitely includes your 8-5 or whatever job you may work to pay the bills. I take the phrase “work heartily” to mean something to the effect of “put your heart behind it,” or “work with all your heart.” You the have the very serious fact that it is actually the Lord Jesus whom you are serving and that you will receive a reward from him.
This means that to live out your faith at work, you should handle your job tasks as if they had been assigned to you by the Lord Jesus himself. This precludes all slacking off, giving minimal effort or other forms of laziness. You should strive to be an exemplary employee for the sake of honoring Christ. I’ll say that this is something I struggle with sometimes. When I first started working, I thought I was doing a great job honoring Christ by being an exemplary employee in a job that I didn’t really even like, but then I switched to a job that I ended up hating and the “exemplary employee” stuff went out the window. In my current job (which I actually like), I’ve gone through seasons where I am doing well in this area and seasons where I have struggled mightily. I know it’s a battle. I encourage you to keep fighting.
If you find yourself to be totally unable to put your heart into your work, it might be time to start looking for a new line of work. I can guarantee you there is a way to make a living somewhere out there that would greatly excite you if you were doing it. Find out what that is. Ask the people who know you what they think you’d be good at or what they’ve seen you get excited about and see where that takes you. Moving to a career where God can use you the way he designed you to work definitely qualifies as honoring him.
3) Be honest in all of your work
Here’s some timeless wisdom from the book of Proverbs: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). In other words, in the world of business and commerce, there’s no cheating allowed. At work and in all your business dealings you should never seek to defraud your employer, your clients, your coworkers, or anyone else. This means among other things, paying what you agreed to pay, working the hours you agreed to work, and not overbilling for your time or services. God is not honored if you are doing unethical things with your time card.
The apostle Paul had this to say to the Church at Ephesus: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). There are multiple ways you can seek to make the best use of the time at work:
During down time
Chances are every now and then you run across some time where there is nothing pressing that you need to be working on. These are great times to look to see if there is anything your co-workers need help with. People in general don’t go out of their way to help others. This is a fantastic chance to show that as one of Christ’s redeemed saints you are different. You can also use this time to learn a new skill. Recently, when I had some down time at work I went onto Google to learn some keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Excel so that now I can work through many of the spreadsheets I work with on a daily basis faster.
During Lunch time
Lunch time is a fantastic opportunity. Most people get a whole hour where they can do pretty much whatever they want. At various times in my working life I have used my lunch break to call my wife and kids, to memorize scripture, to read my Bible, to pray, to go on walks, to listen to podcasts, to sing hymns, and to write blog posts. Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list of possibilities or a perfect list of possibilities, but pretty much any of them are better than going to McDonald’s and scrolling through Facebook for an hour (which I’ve unfortunately done).
If you do go out for lunch, try to invite one of your co-workers. If they are a Christian it could be a good opportunity for some refreshing fellowship during your workday. If they aren’t it could be a great opportunity for you to tell them about your faith in Christ.
5) Don’t Gossip
You know that this is a problem at your work. I know that this is a problem at your work. Don’t do it. I know sometimes it can be hard to avoid getting sucked into a conversation where someone is being spoken of negatively behind their back, but when it happens just get away. No good can come of speaking about someone behind their back and Jesus is certainly not glorified.
Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” You should use words at work to do your job, to build people up, and to show them grace. Gossip should never be part of the equation.
6) Have a good attitude/Don’t complain
Philippians 2:14-15 is an excruciatingly difficult command to live out at work: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Do all things without grumbling or as some translations render it, complaining. Let’s be honest, sometimes your work is frustrating in ways that make you want to complain. The thing is, if you endure difficulty at work in stride without grumbling or complaining, you really will stand out and shine as the verse says.
If you really feel frustrated at work, the best idea would be to go to your spouse or a trusted Christian friend or accountability problem and let them know that you are struggling to have a good attitude and ask them if you can vent about your work. This sort of venting can at time cross the lines into complaining or grumbling, but generally it’s okay to seek out a healthy way to express your frustration that doesn’t bring others down.
God is a God who works and so I don’t think work is ever going away. One day when Jesus comes back I think that toil will be done away with, but work will stick around.
This is ultimately because work is a good thing and does good for people. Hopefully you can start looking at work your as an opportunity to do good. To do good to your family that you provide for, to do good to the clients and customers that your business serves, to do good to mankind in general. Work makes the world a better place.
It glorifies God too, and that’s ultimately what everything is all about
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