Several studies indicate that a little over half of working adults in America are unhappy with their jobs. Is that the case for you? Your employment may not be ideal, you may not make enough money, you may not feel appreciated, you may not be properly trained, or you may not get an opportunity to advance. You may even work with difficult people or a tyrannical boss. Don’t let these define you or your work ethic. Ask God to help you change your perspective and your attitude about your employment. He can help you view it as working for him first and foremost, even though your circumstances might be frustrating or challenging.
There is nothing wrong with work itself. Starting with Adam and Eve, God designed us to work as a joyful part of our existence. He blessed us with numerous work-related abilities. We can think, learn, move, grow, create, problem-solve, repair, nurture, produce, innovate, interact, and serve. Most of the reasons work loses its joy and becomes chronically burdensome is when individuals and organizations seek to please themselves over God and others.
For help with work you can look to Jesus. He is your example for all things good, right, and loving. He is calling you to be with him, to be like him, and to do what he does. With his call he also enables you to accomplish this in all aspects of life, including work. During his time on earth Jesus had typical responsibilities which he carried out. He even became a carpenter like his father, Joseph. Amidst all this he never lost sight of his true work which was to declare and live out the excellencies of God so other people could come to know God. He joyfully laid down his life and rose again to bring this about. His humble, excellent work has made it possible for anyone in the world who trusts and obeys him to be saved. Incredible.
If you believe and follow Jesus you can work excellently with his help. Here are some of the ways:
Learn his excellencies as part of his family. Read in the first four books of the New Testament about what Jesus said and how he lived among us. The book of John is a good place to start. Ask God to teach you how to follow Jesus’ example (Luke 4:40; Luke 9:23-25; John 13:12-17, 34-35).
Aspire for excellence, not in your own strength but by letting God’s Spirit work in you and through you. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Live and proclaim his excellencies. In 1 Peter chapter two of the Bible it says to believers, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The apostle John wrote, whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which he walked (1 John 2:4-6). Likewise the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Work excellently. My grandpa used to say, “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” If you follow Jesus, realize that you are actually working for him, no matter what your current job happens to be. The apostle Paul exhorted first-century believers who happen to be bondservants, but this command also applies to employees today, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 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” (Colossians 3:22-24). When you approach work with that mindset, your words and your conduct become a powerful witness of how good God is and how ordinary people can find fulfillment in knowing and loving him even if they aren’t treated well (Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Peter 2:13-25). So have integrity. Endure hardship. Show respect. Strive for quality, accuracy, and completeness. Take initiative. Follow through on what you say. Make effective use of time and resources. Be honest, open, and trustworthy. Extend grace. Out of love, serve other’s interests before your own.
All that we do in work and life should glorify God. Christian pastor and author, Rick Warren wrote, “Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence.” Jesus taught that you bring glory to God by actively resting in his love and provision and allowing him to work through you, by his Spirit in you, to bring others into a saving relationship with him (John 15:1-17; 1 John 3:24; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8-11). In Jesus, you are God’s ambassador of reconciliation. God is expanding your job responsibilities like he did with the early disciples, Simon and Andrew. They were fisherman and he taught them to become fishers of men. At work, at home, at school through your daily interactions God desires to train you for what he has next and reach others at the same time (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Matthew 4:18-20). Until Jesus returns to establish his kingdom along with a new heaven and earth where you will reign with him, this is your blessed and excellent mission. Work and live like Jesus and for Jesus.