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Work as worship: How to be Christian in workplace

Unsplash/Israel Andrade
Unsplash/Israel Andrade

“You know, Alex, other than a source of income, what I do for my work is pretty meaningless.” That’s what a successful Christian businessman told me in my mid-twenties. A humble man, his point was that work often seemed like a necessary evil.

It’s admirable that my older friend did not find his identity in his work — a temptation we do well to avoid. Only Christ can give us the significance that many seek from their work. But is this how we should think of our jobs, as meaningless? Or might the Scriptures give us a richer, more optimistic view of the activities whereby we spend half of our waking lives? What does it mean to work as a Christian?

Work as worship

We often hear people contrast Christian work with secular work. Full-time ministry is a unique and important calling, one worthy of double honor (Heb. 13:71 Tim. 5:17). But for the Christian, all of life is to be lived coram Deo, before the face of God. Therefore, any activity that serves the good of others and is offered to God in faith-rooted obedience is Christian work.

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Romans 12:1 directs us to offer ourselves to God “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” This is not a one-time act, but a continual offering. Our entire lives are to be dedicated to the One who lived and died so that “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15). We do so not to earn God’s favor, but because we have already received and experienced it.

Everything we do matters because our every action, sentiment, and motivation are to be part of the spiritual worship to which we are called. In the workplace, we’re to create or distribute goods and services as if offered to the Master Himself. We’re to work heartily as unto the Lord, and not man (Col. 3:23). We aim for excellence in our work to please God, not for earthly reward.

Work as neighborly love

Martin Luther was fond of saying, “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.” Our jobs provide tangible ways by which we can love our neighbors. Too often, we use the phrase “good work” in reference only to the pay. There’s nothing wrong with fair compensation — financial independence and contentment are encouraged in Scripture (1 Thess. 4:11–121 Tim. 5:8Heb. 13:5) — but neither money nor status should primarily animate us. What should? Love for God and neighbor.

In our work, we should seek to be useful: to improve lives, promote order, and relieve suffering. This is part of a larger principle: Christianity is good for society. It makes us better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, citizens, and employees. Christianity makes us useful to Christians and non-Christians alike. Not all good work pays well. Not all good work lends itself to frequent praise. But all good work is useful.

Work as calling

Recognizing God’s hand in calling us to specific lines of work for the good of others can produce a greater sense of joy and significance, regardless of the particulars. Is your boss ungrateful? Your coworkers difficult? Your customers hard to please? So be it. Your work is a calling from God. If faithfulness is our goal, and the praise of God our aim, it makes it easier to put up with frustrations. Jesus is our example, who when reviled, kept “entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

Thankfully, in many ways, we have liberty to pursue work for which we’re best suited. To the extent practical, we should seek work that maximizes our gifting, temperament, talents, and preferences. That way our work will be less drudgery and more of, as Dorothy Sayers put it, the thing in which we “find spiritual, mental and bodily satisfaction,” and “the medium in which we offer ourselves to God.”

If you’re in the job market, trust God’s providence as you develop the skill set and resume to land your desired role. Seeing our work as a calling reminds us to be faithful in our current state, knowing that, at least for now, God has appointed us to it.

Work as pre-evangelism

Through the good works our employment makes possible, we adorn the Gospel of God’s grace (Titus 2:9–10). That is, we make it more attractive to others. The workplace allows us to rub shoulders with non-Christians we wouldn’t otherwise know. Kindness toward our coworkers creates opportunities to speak of Christ’s work both on the cross and in our lives. As doors open, we should engage others, speaking the truth in love, and asking God to grant them repentance.

Christ envisioned this, teaching us to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Work as a means of sanctification

Finally, to the extent that our work involves hardship — and in a fallen world, it surely will — our work is a means of sanctification. Mindful of this, we can count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2–3). Thank God that He who began this good work will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).

Dear Christian, what you do in the workplace is not meaningless. It is an important part of God’s call on your life, an arena in which to offer spiritual worship, contribute to the common good, and love your neighbor through good deeds.

This article was first published in Tabletalk, the Bible study magazine of Ligonier Ministries. Find out more at or subscribe today at

Dr. Alex Chediak is associate professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University. He is author of Thriving at College, and his blog can be read at

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