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10. Doing a Good Job:

 

The Christian in the Workplace

Genesis 2:2 'By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.'

Why you should work

1. Because God is a worker, and he made you in his image

Construction workerThe above verse tells us that God himself is a worker—and he's working still (John 5:17). Human beings, made in God's image, are designed to be workers, too. Even before the Fall they were given work-responsibility by which they could glorify God:

Genesis 2:15 'The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.'

Certainly after the Fall work became tougher going (Genesis 3:19). But work can be redeemed in Christ, and for you it can be a source of dignity, self-esteem and legitimate pride. You can expect to get satisfaction from seeing the fruits of your labour:

Proverbs 12:27 'The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.'

2. To earn money

Note that 'work' is not necessarily the same things as 'paid employment.' Work is, by definition, sustained effort of a productive kind, and the young, the unemployed and the retired can all do it.

It's a principle of life that we should earn our own bread by honest work. State aid is a privilege, not a right. As a rule, you should aim to be gainfully employed. In Paul's day, some had stopped work because they felt Christ's return was imminent. He condemned their idleness and urged them to 'settle down and earn the bread they eat' (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

3. To help appreciate leisure

Relaxation and leisure lose their appeal when they become permanent. You appreciate them best as aEnjoying leisure contrast to hard work. Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, 'The sleep of a labourer is sweet.'

The fourth commandment prescribes one day's rest in seven, but the ordinance dates from before the law of Moses (Genesis 2:2-3) and is God's plan for your welfare—physically, mentally and emotionally. Don't become a workaholic and kill yourself.

Even in the age to come you'll have work to do. And the more diligent you prove to be in your work now, the greater the reward of more work and responsibility in the coming age! (See the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27.)

Some Important Reminders

1. All work is honourable

Man at workWe tend to view 'clean' jobs (in the office, the classroom, the laboratory) as somehow 'better' than 'dirty' jobs (in the field, the workshop, the factory).

But Jesus invested with dignity even the most menial of tasks—eastern foot-washing—and sanctified the skilled manual work of carpentry. He called as his disciples both a rough-handed fisherman like Peter and a desk-worker like Matthew. All work is honourable to the Christian.

2. Cautions for working wives

Scripture doesn't forbid a married woman to do paid work. The 'perfect wife' of Proverbs 31 is a working wife (v16-18, 24), but not at the expense of her prior loyalties to:

There are, however, dangers faced by the family where the wife works full time as well as the husband, especially when there are young children. High tax is usually payable. The wife may well look her best at work and her worst at home, which is bad for the husband-wife relationship. A double-income lifestyle can become addictive. Children, when they come, may be neglected.

What to avoid in your work

1. Striking

Since a strike's effects are invariably disruptive and harmful, this should be the last resort for you as a Christian worker. Your calling as a believer is to be constructive.

Many of the New Testament's exhortations are not to employers and employees, who have a voluntary relationship, but to masters and slaves. A slave had no rights at all, least of all the right to withdraw his labour. If an opportunity to gain his freedom came up, a slave was urged to take it (1 Corinthians 7:21). Otherwise, the position was:

1 Peter 2:18 'Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.'

Biblical submission doesn't mean being a doormat. It includes the right to express an opinion, question an attitude or voice a legitimate complaint. Hopefully, your Christian attitude in a difficult work situation would normally prompt resolution by means other than striking.

2. Compromise

In today's selfish society you'll often find yourself the 'odd man out' at work. Pressure will come on you to lower your standards. Such compromise is dishonouring to God. With good humour and quiet firmness stickFactory to your Christian values, even if you're made to suffer for it (1 Peter 2:19-20).

'Look busy, the boss is coming!' is an attitude foreign to Christians, who are urged to work for their masters 'not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord' (Colossians 3:22). And if you work for a Christian boss, don't be tempted to exploit this situation for your own advantage. On the contrary, serve him or her 'even better' (1 Timothy 6:2).

3. Stealing

The theft of an employer's goods (tools, materials, stationery, etc) is clearly 'out' for the Christian worker (Titus 2:9-10). But stealing can take other forms. By neglecting punctuality you can steal your employer's time. By destructive criticism (often disguised as jesting) you can steal his reputation. The true Christian is no thief—in any of these areas!

Who are you working for?

Would your work attitudes change drastically if Jesus were your boss? If so, listen to Paul:

Colossians 3:23-24 'Whatever you do, work at it with all 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.'

WorkerIt's Jesus you're really working for. Do your job accordingly. The above verse also urges you to work 'with all your heart'. Tackle your job with enthusiasm. If it's boring, devise ways of building a challenge into it.

Results of a right work-attitude

1. The gospel is commended

Christians are to serve their employers 'so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered' (1 Timothy 6:1). By the very way they do their work, 'in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive' (Titus 2:10).

Don't make the mistake of regarding witnessing in company time as more important than work. It's unlikely to result in the salvation of your fellow-workers—especially the boss!

Some fellow-workers may despise you if you work hard. That's part of the price of being a Christian. But if you keep good humour and friendliness to the forefront and avoid a 'holier than thou' attitude, God's blessing upon you will close their mouths:

1 Peter 2:15 'It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.'

2. Prosperity—now and hereafter

If you live according to the law of the Lord you'll know God's blessing (Psalm 1:3). The necessities of life—food, clothing, etc.—will be yours, plus more, as you bring God into your work life and see it as being under his kingdom-rule:Cornucopia: prosperity

Matthew 6:31-33 'Do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.'

You'll also be able to look forward to a reward at Jesus' return (Colossians 3:23-24).

How to become a loyal employee

Loyalty is a fruit of the Spirit that you can demonstrate in your work. How?

a. Kill off your independent attitude

This wrong kind of independence can be seen in:

Watch out for these indicators and seek God's help in reshaping your underlying attitude to one of loyalty.

b. Develop a servant's heart

Consider how you can become a better servant to your employer or your company. How?

c. Look to God to give you work-fulfilment

Because work is part of God's perfect plan for you, he wants you to be fulfilled in it. To have a job suited to your personal skills and abilities is a great blessing, but this isn't always possible. You may have to settle for work of a dull or repetitive nature. Either way, you can look to God to provide you with maximum fulfilment:

Psalm 62:5-7 'Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation andOverwhelmed with work my honour depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.'

Finding a balance

The world of work is a much more competitive place today than it once was. Some employers demand a level of commitment to the job or company that is quite unreasonable.

Without becoming a slacker, make adequate room in your life for family and friends, leisure and relaxation. Proper attention to these will not detract from efficiency in your work but, on the contrary, will enhance it.

Learn
by heart

Colossians 3:23  'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.'

Heart

GiG10: In The Workplace
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