Throughout Scripture, it’s clear that how you do your job matters; the Bible has a lot to say about the importance of work and how Christians should conduct ourselves while performing in the workplace.
Colossians 3:23 reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” and Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
But holding down a 9-5 job isn’t always an easy task. Whatever your vocation, each and every one of us at some point deals with the inevitable difficulties of work. Between frustrating coworkers, demanding bosses, and hectic schedules, maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace can sometimes seem impossible.
As Christians, we are called to exhibit faith, integrity and excellence in the workplace even in the face of adversity. In essence, we are to distinguish ourselves from the world by modeling Christ through a job well done.
Whether you’re a bus driver or beautician, lawyer or doctor, how you do your job matters to God. Here are four things to keep in mind as you strive to demonstrate excellence with integrity in the workplace.
1. God Created Us to Work
In Genesis 1, it is revealed that God worked six days to create the world and all of its inhabitants — and created mankind in His image: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). After God worked, He delighted in His creation: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
As image bearers of God, then, we too are created to work.
Tom Nelson, senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, explains: “Being an image-bearer means many things, yet an essential aspect of image-bearing is expressed in and through the work we do each day... The foundation of our creation design and calling is to be productive in our work. This truth is reinforced when Adam is placed in the garden with a twofold vocational job description: to ‘work it and keep it’ (Gen. 2:15). When we work, we live into God’s design as his image-bearers.”
Psalm 19 says that God reveals Himself to the world by His work; thus, understanding that we are made in God’s image helps us to see the purpose for our life and work.
2. The Bible Calls Us to be Enthusiastic in Our Work
According to a new Gallup study on the American workplace, of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work, feel no real connection to their jobs, and tend to do the bare minimum. The study found that another 16 percent are “actively disengaged” — they resent their jobs, tend to gripe to co-workers and drag down office morale as a result.
Similarly, a study from the Pew Research Center found that about half (47%) of employed Americans say their job is just what they do for a living, and another 30% say it’s just a job to get them by.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, encourages Christians to refrain from being passive participants in the workplace, instead exhibiting enthusiasm in all endeavours (Romans 12:11).
He highlights three things for believers to remember:
- Your work is a test from God. He is testing you to see how much he can trust you with in eternity. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much ... But if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?" (Luke 16:10-12 NIV).
- God is watching what you do, even when no one else is. Even if you have the most boring job in the world, God is watching to see your attitude. "Work hard so God can say to you, 'Well done.' Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work" (2 Timothy 2:15 LB).
- Your attitude determines your joy. A lousy job is a lousy job, but it's even worse when you complain about it. "The diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work" (Proverbs 12:24 MSG). It's all in your attitude.
3. What is the Purpose of Work?
Society has taught us to define success by a person's job title and financial status. However, as a Christian, your purpose in working should be driven by more than just materialistic desire.
While there’s nothing wrong with hard work and financial success, the Bible is replete with warnings about the pitfalls of greed. Time and time again, Scripture stresses the importance of guarding against allowing money and possessions to become your goal and pursuit.
1st Timothy 6:9 reads, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” Mark 10:25 reads, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
Instead, your work should be centered on glorifying God and serving others. Mark 12:30-31 reads, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
The way you carry yourself at work is a crucial aspect of loving God and loving neighbor. Instead of simply viewing your jobs as a means to an end, you are called to see your work as an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God by ministering to those around you.
John Piper, founder of DesiringGod.org, advises “Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.”
4. Business With Integrity
As Christians, you’re called to be ambassadors of Christ and reflect Him with your life. This means that our conduct in the workplace should be defined by honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness. Strive to be dependant in the workplace and honest on the job.
Truett Cathy, the late founder of Chick-fil-A, put it this way: “I believe no amount of business school training or work experience can teach what is ultimately a matter of personal character. Businesses are not dishonest or greedy, people are. Thus, a business, successful or not, is merely a reflection of the character of its leadership.”
He also said, “As Christians, we have an obligation and responsibility to abide by the principles of the Bible.”
With God’s help, it is possible to be an image-bearer of Christ in the workplace — no matter how difficult. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reads, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”