“Slaves, obey your masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:22–24).
Sometimes in their zeal to encourage spiritual vocations, pastors can unintentionally leave the impression among church members that unless one is in some form of full-time gospel work (such as a pastor, missionary or evangelist) that other forms of vocation are less spiritual, or of less importance to God. As a result many Christians do not seem to grasp how important it is for them to serve their employers with submission and excellence, as a way to bring glory to God. This misunderstanding is further highlighted by the use of the terms religious and secular vocations. The biblical position is that all work matters to God, whether one serves as a pastor, or sits at a computer eight hours per day, or engages as an evangelist, or works as a diesel mechanic.
In the passage above Paul reminded the slaves in Colossae that their service to God was bound up in the manner in which they served their earthly masters. They were to work hard, serving with all of their hearts, rendering excellent service because ultimately that was their way of being obedient to their heavenly Master. Peter, in his first letter (2:18–19), tells slaves that they are to be obedient to their earthly masters, even those who are “harsh” (lit., morally crooked, perverse). In our culture, the slaves are equivalent to employees, and the masters are the employers or bosses—so these biblical commands are totally relevant in our age.
Whether we work as a convenience store clerk, a supervisor of hundreds of employees, or repair flat tires as our vocation, our attitude and performance on our jobs are critical ways to serve the Lord and often determine how effective we are in our witness to the lost world around us. Realizing that all work is holy to God is a key ingredient in our being pleasing to the Lord. God is equally as concerned with our attitude and example whether we repair broken plumbing pipes, trade stock on a brokerage floor, lead a Bible class at church, or evangelize a native on some foreign mission field. All work is judged by God, and the manner and attitude with which we work can please or dishonor our Lord.
As we carry out our responsibilities on our jobs, here are some questions we would do well to ask ourselves:
• Do I regularly thank God for my job—whether it is as a president of a Fortune 500 company or as a garbage collector?
• Do I properly respect those at work in authority over me, even those whose religious, political or moral convictions are different from mine?
• Do I work heartily in whatever vocation I am placed—knowing that my service is to the Lord?
• Do I work hard even when the boss is not watching?
• Do I strive to have as good a reputation with my coworkers as I have with my fellow church members?
• Do I work as efficiently as possible so as to make my company profitable?
• Do I refrain from cutting any moral corners on the job?
• Do I make suggestions on how to improve job performance and morale?
• Do I refrain from conversations in which the boss or supervisor is criticized?
• Do I refrain from taking small items from my employee—paper clips, copy paper, pencils, etc.—even though “everyone else does it?”
• Do I make personal copies on the company copier?
• Do I use the company’s Internet connection for my personal use?
• Do I fudge on my expense account or time card?
• Am I the same person on the job as I am when away from the job?
• Do I encourage employer respect, rather than helping create employee dissatisfaction?
• Are my work habits sloppy, or do I attempt to always produce work of excellence?
• Am I on time, or am I often tardy at work?
• Do I misuse sick leave or personal leave days?
• Do I abuse workers’ compensation benefits?
• Do I use company time to witness to my lost co-workers, or do I wait until break time or lunch time?
• Do I remind myself regularly that my job performance and general attitude can bring either glory, or dishonor, to my Lord?
Our work does matter to God! Normally the majority of our waking hours are spent at our jobs. And how we conduct ourselves is vitally important to the cause of Christ, whether we serve as a seamstress in a factory, a politician, a preacher, a homemaker, an engineer a janitor or serve in any other area. All work should be viewed as a gift from God and as a venue of responsibility to Him. It pleases Him when we:
• Thank Him for the ability to work
• Work with all of our might
• Work as efficiently as possible
• Exhibit absolute honesty and reliability
• Realize that we are witnessing by our attitude and job performance
• Honor our bosses
• Respect our co-workers
• Pray for those with whom we work
• Set the best example we can in all respects
• Seek legitimate times and ways that we can verbally witness to those with whom we work
• Trust God, even during those times when our jobs can put us in very difficult circumstances
If you have not been practicing those things listed above, it is not too late to begin now. God is a God of second, third and fourth chances with His children. Your attitude about your job can make a world of difference to you, your family, your co-workers, your boss and ultimately will affect your relationship with the Lord.
This article is an excerpt from Curtis Thomas’ book – Life in the Body of Christ: Privileges and Responsibilities in the Local Church. A new hardcover edition is now available for pre-order for $19.98 at press.founders.org