So I recently wrote a blog post on the importance of sleep, you can find it here. Soon I hope to write about ‘resting in the Lord’, now however I want to write about what a Christian attitude towards work looks like, as well as what a Christian’s attitude at work should be. I will be using a few pieces of scripture from the old and new testaments, giving a solid backing and practical advice. I myself have had a few jobs, and done volunteering regularly (at least once a week) for the last 4 years (excluding when I went on holiday). Now I am applying for new jobs and about to go back into the world after studying.
Work is Good
Our God is a creative God and we are made in his likeness (Genesis 1:27); we are made to be like him, and he is not a lazy God. Adam and eve are told to do a few things after being created, the first is to pro-create, the second is to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28). Now ‘subduing’ the earth isn’t something that happens over night, but something that has to be worked on. If you’ve ever done gardening you know that it takes time and energy. You can’t just walk into a garden and fix it in ten minutes; you need to plan what you will do, get the right tools, and do things right. We are created to (love, serve and glorify God primarily) work. Working is part of our mission brief as humans. Speaking from experience, being unemployed for a long periods of time can be depressing and disheartening, because we aren’t doing what we are made to do. We feel useless and unwanted.
Motivation to Work
‘Well we need to work to earn money’, this is true. Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us not to be lazy but to make sure we have what we need to survive. But worrying about income shouldn’t be a Christians primary motivator. In Matthew 17:27 Jesus tells one of his disciples to catch a fish and that it would have money inside of it; if we need money God will provide. Paul is very clear about what a Christians motivation should be in 1 Corinthians 13. It should be love. Now I understand we have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and I am not suggesting money should never be a motivator, rather I have suggested it is important.
Money however should not be the core motivator. What one does with the money is what should be asked. ‘Am I working to earn money which I will spend on things which only benefit me? or will I spend it wisely and help people with it?’. Some of us struggle to get by, but the testimony of someone getting by with just enough, is a mighty strong one. It’s when we start storing up treasures for ourselves on earth that we run into a problem (Matthew 6:19-21). In Leviticus 19:10 and 23:22 we are told that God’s people are expected to make provision for the poor and the foreigner when they work. Finally, wherever we work, we should be motivated to share God’s love, through our words and deeds, and everywhere is the mission field.
Christians Should Enjoy Work
‘I’m made to work, I have the right motivations, but you can’t tell me I should enjoy it’. Well let’s look at what we’ve already discussed. If we are made to do something, why wouldn’t we get satisfaction out of doing it? doesn’t the gardener feel rewarded when he see’s his flowers bloom? Ecclesiastes 2:24 says this ‘A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?’. Our enjoyment doesn’t come from our work, our enjoyment should come from living every day with God. There will be hard days, the world hates you after all (John 15:19), but God is with you always
Furthermore the Christian is expected to serve whole heartedly and with enthusiasm. Ephesians 6:5-8 tells us to serve people as if we are serving God, and Colossians 3:23 reads ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving’. Even when you feel under-appreciated, I want you to know in your heart that God see’s every single thing done, and he will repay you.
Christians Should not Complain
Christians also should not murmur or complain, that they may ‘shine like stars in the world’ (Philippians 2:14-15). The attitude of a Christian is one of the biggest testimonies we have. To keep calm in storms, to not respond in anger but with gentleness, to show love; these things require patience, but they are vital and through them God shines brighter than we can understand. I remember when I was unemployed and the person assigned to me in the job centre was not enthusiastic and numbers driven. I was not inspired or encouraged to apply for jobs for any reason other than I had to so I could receive my allowance. One day they were not in, so I saw someone else. They were vibrant and happy to see not only me, but their colleagues. When you are treated warmly and lovingly, you respond likewise. We are the salt of the earth, we should add loving flavour to this planet, and the workplace is a great place to do it.
Do not be confused when I say we shouldn’t complain. We should ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:8-9). If there is an injustice at work, someone is not being treated right, or there is a safety risk, we have a responsibility to do what we can. What is meant is that we shouldn’t grumble, or say things through gritted teeth. When we become slanderers, we no longer spread a pleasing aroma of live around, but rather leave a trail of bitterness. If you really need to complain, I suggest the first place we take it is to God, then we wait for an answer on how to follow up. I have found that usually when I do this, God reveals to me how small my complaint is and how easy it is to amend; when we get angry things can seem bigger than they are. I encourage you to be quick to forgive.
I am aware that I am writing these things from the perspective of a white male living in a rich country, though I hope some of it is useful to you. God bless you and keep you always.