by: Alli McDougal
What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of work? Maybe your memory carries you back to checking off your Saturday morning chore list as a child, babysitting as a teenager trying to earn some extra spending money, or studying late nights in the library as you prep for tomorrow’s test. Perhaps your memory lands you years later in adulthood, sitting at the desk of your first job right out of college. Your current work situation could be so hectic at the moment, overflowing even into your home and social life, that it’s all you think of when you consider the idea of work. Or maybe you’re a mom, working endless days to care for your kiddos at home. Whatever those first thoughts are that come to mind, the Lord calls each of us to different work in different seasons. What I’d like to focus on today is applying the gospel to your work, no matter how it looks for you in this present season.
1.We remember that our work is a way to glorify God.
It can be easy, if we aren’t careful, to fall into unhealthy work patterns. These patterns could be ones of elevating self and doing whatever is necessary to get ahead, no matter who is negatively affected—work becomes an idol rather than a way to honor the Lord. These patterns could be ones of saying “Yes” to keep up our good image, yet every “Yes” serves only to fuel our fear of what others may think of us—we forget we are not defined by our job but as a child of God. Unhealthy patterns could also be working carelessly, just ready to move on to the next thing without thought as to what we are doing or why we are doing it. Have you ever found yourself in one of these places?
In Colossians 3:23 we read, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.” The Lord calls us as believers to serve Him in all that we do. When we remove our focus from ourselves and pleasing others and place it instead on Christ and serving Him above all else, that is where we find true joy in our work. Work may not always be the first place we want to be. It may not be the first thing we want to be doing—whether household chores, babysitting, term papers, office reports, ball practice after ball practice. However, when we consider our job as one we fulfill in order to bring God glory and honor, we can go about our tasks with a different attitude and perspective. Whatever job the Lord has called us to in this moment is exactly where He would have us serve Him. It is His best for us right now. God always has a purpose in mind. May our hearts be ever attuned to glorify Him there.
2. We remember that our work is a witness to others of the God we serve.
As we work well as unto the Lord, we act as a witness to draw others to Christ. When our focus is on the Lord, we point others to Him too. They will see something different about us in how we handle every circumstance—how we treat other people, how we take care of the work that we do, how we value our work. Each day and through every season, whether we work in a classroom with peers, in an office building with coworkers, or at home with children, we are a witness to others in our work-–reflecting Christ through our words and actions. Pray that God would provide opportunities for you to share the gospel in your workplace as others seek to know more about your joy.
Perhaps, though, you find yourself working in a Christian setting already. You question if all of this applies to you, too, somehow. Indeed it does! Even in a Christian school, a Christian organization, or a home wrapped in prayer and full of gospel conversations, you embody the character Christ has called us to reflect. Those around you see that, and may they be encouraged and know God more because, through you, they see Him.
3. We remember that work is a good thing.
In His perfect wisdom, God gave us the gift of work. The Lord’s own work was to speak creation into being before He rested on the seventh day. In the New Testament, God called His disciples to the work of being “fishers of men”—bringing other people to know Him and believe. Rewind back to Genesis in the Old Testament; when God created man, He instructed Adam and Eve to work in the garden and care for His creation. All was right and good, and this included work. But, when Adam and Eve sinned, brokenness entered the world. Because of that, work would no longer be what it once was. Work became difficult, and through painful labor, man would toil all the days of his life (Genesis 3:17–19). God’s plan was marred, and only through His sending a Savior, Jesus, could our work be restored and be given the ultimate meaning that would reach into eternity.
There are certainly mornings we wake up and do not want to go about the work God has set in front of us for that day. Many of us work long hours to provide for our families, and even in shorter hours, the work is often not what we would choose. This doesn’t mean that work itself is a punishment though. In fact, it is part of God’s loving grace and provision for us in every different season. Through the good gift of work, what great opportunity we have to glorify the Lord and give the greatest gift by sharing Him with the world.
Below are four reflection questions. We encourage you to take time today to think through them and then pray about the things the Lord puts on your heart:
1. What work has the Lord given me, and how am I seeking to glorify Him through that
2. In what ways have I failed to view my work as a gift from the Lord?
3. If I haven’t been working as unto the Lord, in which areas of my work can I be intentional to do so
4. What are some ways that I can be a witness to others as I work?