We are created for a purpose: to solve a problem that is uniquely ours to fix. From the beginning God made it so. God gave Adam a job (to name the animals) even before He gave Adam a wife. So how do we discover what plans God has for our work life, and how do we convey a healthy work ethic to our children?
A few years back Rick Warren wrote a very popular book called Purpose Driven Life. This book explores the basics of what we are created to do. In a nutshell, we are created to honor and worship our Creator. But how we spend our time is a great indicator of what we are worshipping, and we spend more time at our place of employment than anywhere else. So, how do we honor God with our work?
"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31b). Sometimes we can get super spiritual and think that the only people who honor God with their employment are those who are in the full time ministry, but the Scripture is very clear that all of us should do whatever we do for God’s glory. In fact, more often than not, God used working men and women to fulfill His plan rather than priests and ministers. Abraham was a keeper of cattle. Joseph was a CEO and prison administrator. David was a shepherd and political leader. Paul was a tent maker. Even Jesus was a carpenter by trade! Rather than stressing over whether we have found God’s optimum job for our lives, we should concentrate on doing the tasks before us and bringing glory to God through our current opportunity.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). Sometimes we dread Monday morning. The workplace can be a difficult place to walk out our Christianity. Between office politics and difficult personalities sometimes we can feel that we are asked to do more than our salary reflects, and walking in love can seem next to impossible. But this Scripture is clear, whatever we do, we are to be giving thanks. As we consider friends and neighbors who have experienced a loss of work in the economic downturn, it is a reminder to us to be thankful for our employment. Work is a gift from God and when we receive it as such we can find greater contentment than when we grumble and complain.
"And whatever you do, do it heartily…" (Colossians 3:21a). There is great satisfaction in giving your all to a task, while there is no joy in a job done halfway. As God’s representatives, we should be known as a people who try their best to accomplish what is set before us. Performing in excellence in God's honor is what brought Joseph from being a dreamer in a pit to being the second in command and rescuer of starving nations.
Work "as to the Lord and not to men" (Colossians 3:21b). When we play out the story of our lives, we should be playing it for the audience of One. If God’s approval is our focus, we have chosen the better path. Working for the Most Excellent One will keep our standards high and may even get us noticed by human authority. Even when there is a matter of principle at work, and we are asked to do something against God’s ways, working as unto the Lord makes it easy to choose His delight rather than becoming a people-pleaser.
"Do all things without complaining and disputing" (Philippians 2:14). Does your family hear you complain about your job? Do you expect them to do their chores and responsibilities without complaint? If so, you need to model working without complaint before them by cheerfully completing the tasks you are given by your employer. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Co. 9:7). When we cheerfully give our time to our employer we are pleasing God. Sometimes this takes great faith, but then our faith pleases God too (Heb. 11:6).
Creating a great work ethic in our children is definitely more caught than taught. Living out being a great employee in front of your family models to them how they are to respond to the authority of humankind on earth and ultimately to the authority of God in heaven. After all, children will do what you do, not as you say. In addition, allowing yourself to be excellent right where you are prepares you for where ever God has for you in the future. If Joseph hadn’t been an excellent assistant to Potiphar, do you think he would have ever had the opportunity to rule beside Pharaoh? Even when he was falsely accused, God protected him from what could have been certain death. If Joseph wouldn’t have worked in the jail as unto the Lord, would he have ever come to his exalted position? Even prison becomes an opportunity for influence when we are determined to do our best! Working heartily at whatever our hand finds for us to do honors God and sets us up for God’s best in our lives.