I guess you’ve heard the old joke that says, ”Oh yes. Sure I love work, I really love work—I could watch it for ages!” Some people make it their goal in life to do as little as possible and earn as much as possible. If you’re still in the workforce as I am, you know the importance of being happy at work.
Some of the bumper stickers on cars reveal what people really think of their employment:
- I’m in no hurry, I’m on my way to work.
- My job is secure—no-one else wants it.
- Is it Friday yet?
Surveys indicate that seven out of ten Americans are dissatisfied with their job and dread going to work each day—that’s 70% of all American workers! I guess that figure would be mirrored here in Australia. Many people feel trapped in their job and don’t see any way out. The fact is most of us spend more time at work than we do with our family, or friends, or in leisure, or in spiritual activities.
Work: a blessing or a curse?
Whether we like it or not, for many of us work dominates our life in terms of hours spent. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a Disney children’s classic. Do you remember the song the dwarfs sang every morning as they headed off to work? “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go.” Nowadays it seems that with the economic problems in our own country more and more of us are singing the song, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!”
The cover article for U.S. News and World Report a few years ago was titled “Why We Work.” The article says that today many workers are left feeling insecure, unfulfilled, and underappreciated. It’s no wonder surveys of today’s workers show a steady decline in job satisfaction. David Rhodes, who is an expert in human resources, says, “People are very emotional about work, and they’re very negative about it. The biggest issue is clearly workload. People are feeling crushed.” Ringing mobile phones and ever present email have blurred the lines between work and home, and now the job seems to penetrate every aspect of life.
So I think a good question is this: Is work a blessing or a curse for you? And what does God think about your work? Are you unemployed and looking for work and wonder if God even cares if you ever find a job? The Bible talks about our attitude towards work and everything else we do. Colossians 3:23 says: “Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans.” Someone once said that the way we do our work is as important as the work we do. Does it really matter? If we take the Bible seriously, it does matter.
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Christians at work
I want to suggest that work is a tool in the hand of the follower of Jesus Christ that can be used to fulfil our calling to glorify God in all we do, which includes our Monday-to-Friday job. Therefore:
- The Christian lawyer practises law to the glory of God
- The Christian teacher teaches to the glory of God
- The Christian student studies and learns to the glory of God
- And the Christian homemaker does her or his labours to the glory of God.
J.S. Bach wrote music to the glory of God, and on every piece of music he composed, he wrote three small initials S.D.G., which stood for sola Deo gloria—“to the glory of God alone.” He wrote his music to the glory of God.
For the follower of Christ, work is a means to an end, not the end itself, and the goal of every believer is discipleship, to become more like Christ in our lives. As a result, how we do our work is every bit as important as the work itself, and choosing to be as Christ in our work is one of the primary ways we can live out our discipleship, because we spend more time at work than just about any place else in our lives.
When we think about work, we should make every effort to reflect the character of Christ himself in the way we do our job. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians, “[In your work] Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do,…” (Ephesians 6:7-8). God is the believer’s ultimate boss, and we do our work as to the Lord, regardless who our supervisor might be.
Do you see your workplace as holy ground? Do you see it as a school of discipleship where the Lord wants to cultivate his life in you? For the Christian there is no division between secular and sacred areas of life. All of life for the believer, including our work, is to be given over to God. Are you willing to accept Christ’s mission for your work? The pattern for our work life must be Christ. Manifest Christ in your work life.
(To be continued in A Look at Work – Part 2)