Life @ Work

Here is a graphic summarizes the six ingredients to making work … work. It might be helpful to print this out and put somewhere you can see it throughout your workday.

Life@work handout 2013

Your work is a calling. And it honors God when you reflect His character in the way you do your job. And He wants you to enjoy your job and to have a passion about doing what you do best. And thank Him for your job, for giving you a way to provide for your family. And as you make money, remember the needy, and remember His Kingdom’s work as you invest in what will last for eternity. And certainly remember that your job is your mission field. You are not just a teacher or salesman or executive, you are a missionary.

Psalm 90 is a prayer written by Moses because he believed that work mattered to God. “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17, ESV). The word “establish” means stabilize, as in laying the foundation of a building. It also refers to sinking deep roots, to ensure fruitfulness. It means giving favor and making successful. So another version reads, “May the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!” (Psalm 90:17, NLT).

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On Mission at Work

Work with a mission, realizing that your job is a platform from which you can point people to Jesus.

Life Apps - title - work

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16, NAS). I know the context is broader than working 9 to 5, but surely it includes working 9 to 5. Let the way you live, let the way you work, glorify God and point people to Jesus.

There should be a marriage of your career with the Great Commission. Your job is just as important as the missionary in Africa. All of us are called into full-time Christian ministry. Your job is your mission field. Your job description is that of a missionary. Your job is a platform from which you can point people to Jesus.

Three people in my informal survey talked about their desire to be a witness at work.

  • “I don’t want it to be just a job. I want it to be a mission field. So as I drive to work, I pray for my co-workers one at a time by name.”
  • “I know non-Christians are watching me every day at work, expecting me to prove that I’m a hypocrite.”
  • “I really believe my work is a ministry. I may be the only Jesus my co-workers ever see.”

Don’t forget the ultimate reason we are on this planet. We who have heard the good news are to declare the good news. Your job is your mission field. Your job description is that of a missionary. Your job is a platform from which you can point people to Jesus.

 

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Work to be Generous

From the fruit of your work, give generously to those in need and give to support God’s kingdom work.

Life Apps - title - work

Paul made this comment about work. “Do something useful with your hands, that you may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

In the Old Testament this is called the practice of gleaning. God told His people, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor” (Leviticus 23:22, ESV). From the money we earn, we are set aside some for those in need.

We are also to support God’s kingdom work. Proverbs 3 tells us to “honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10, NAS). The Bible also says that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NAS).

My brother-in law, Jimmy, is one of the most generous people I know. He is a “cheerful giver,” and has the spiritual gift of giving. He keeps a stash of books and CDs in his truck and is always giving them away to encourage people. His church has a lot of college students, and most Sundays he takes several students out to lunch. I remember the time he bought a brand new computer, and it wasn’t even out of the box, and he gave it to someone who needed one. He also led two trips to Alabama to help tornado victims a couple of years ago. Jimmy is spontaneously generous and freely gives to anyone he sees in need.

And I think that’s how God wants all of us to live. And we should, because everything we have comes from the generous hand of God.

But what about giving to the church? Why does God want your money? He doesn’t need your money, so why does God want your money? To prove He has your heart. God commanded Israel, “You shall surely tithe (10%) all the produce from what you sow (from what you harvest) … in order that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). And this applies to us. The tithe was, and is, about worship. And it was to be given “in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand” (Deuteronomy 14:29).

Yes, we are to provide for families. But from the fruit of our work, we are also to be generous to those in need and support God’s kingdom work.

 

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Providing for Your Family

The purpose of work is to provide for your family.

Life Apps - title - work

Solomon made this observation from nature. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8, ESV). Even an ant provides for its family. Paul put it bluntly, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

The purpose of work is to provide for your family. But there are two warnings we need to heed about making money.

The first warning, don’t work to get rich. It’s great if you make a lot of money, but don’t make wealth your goal. God may blesses you with riches, but Paul warned that it is foolish to put your “hope in the uncertainty of riches” (1 Timothy 6:17). The Bible says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV). Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). The Bible also says, “(Be) free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV). Make as much money as you can to provide for your family, but don’t be foolish to think that money will make you happy or that money can provide the security that only God can provide.

The second warning, don’t make work an idol. Don’t let work become an obsession or become your identity. In other words, don’t become a workaholic. Psalm 127 warns us. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil” (Psalm 127:2, ESV). Whatever a workaholic gains at work, he loses at home. It must be God, family, work. Don’t make money an idol and don’t make your career an idol. Remember, the honorable purpose of work is to provide for your family.

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How to Love Your Job

Work should include passion. We should enjoy doing what we do best. When you can marry passion and skill, what you love with what you do best, your work will never seem like work.

Life Apps - title - work

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV). “We are God’s workmanship.” Every one of us has been specially crafted by God. He has created us with unique abilities and talents, and with unique passions and burdens. Our highest calling is to find out how God has wired us and to do what we do best. And to accomplish those “good works,” which He ordained before we were even born.

Therefore, you should pursue a career that leverages those unique abilities and talents, passions and burdens, strengths and skills, that God has given you. In recruiting men to craft materials for the tabernacle, the Lord said to Moses, “See Bezalel … I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:1-3, NAS). And later on God said, “in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill” (Exodus 31:6, NAS).

Every person has God-given ability. Every person has some unique strength, talent, or skill. God made artists, athletes, cops, coaches, engineers, accountants, lawyers, builders, plumbers, electricians, salesmen, managers, teachers, programmers, nurses, and the list goes on and on. You have skill because God put that skill in you.

I love how executive coach Arthur Miller puts it. “Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that you are the customized expression of a loving God. He has wired you … Your life has meaning built into it. Effectively, you have an exciting, challenging, and achievable destiny if you will but discover and embrace who you are designed to be … You are God’s idea.” I don’t think Miller’s quote should be misconstrued as being self-centered. I believe he is reminding us that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

So find a job that fits your strengths and skills. Find a job that you can be passionate about. Find a job that you can enjoy. Find a job that makes you wake up every morning and say, “I was born for this!” My wife, Kathy, is a 3rd grade elementary teacher and that’s how she wakes up every morning. I can’t think of a more intimidating job than spending 8 hours a day in a classroom with 20 kids, but she loves it.

Solomon made this statement about work. “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, NAS). Solomon is saying that enjoying our work, and enjoying the fruit of our labor, is a gift from God.

But there’s something else that needs to be said. Of course, do what you do best. But also, do your best at what you do. Remember what Paul said. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily” (Colossians 3:23). If work is a calling, and if work is a means by which we reflect the character, and if work is to have passion and purpose, then we should do our best at what we do! As a Christian, …

  • work hard and always do your best
  • submit to your boss and do what you’re told
  • do it with a good attitude, without grumbling or complaining
  • take responsibility for your work and admit your mistakes
  • don’t give excuses for not producing
  • pursue excellence, do the very best you can do
  • over deliver, under budget, beat the deadline, go the extra mile
  • keep your word, follow through with your promises
  • if you’re the boss, treat employees fairly
  • work hard and always do your best

The way to love your job and be passionate about your work is to do what God has wired and gifted you to do, and to do your best at what you do best.

 

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