You may be familiar with the adage “Anything worth doing is worth doing well”. That quote is attributed to Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, and a British statesman who lived from 1694-1773. I have always taken that sentiment to heart, whether it be in very routine things (making the bed, ironing my clothes, styling my hair, etc.) or more significant things like doing my job, loving my wife, or writing a paper at seminary. But my wife Tammy sometimes gets frustrated with me for this exact thing. For example, I always need to practice by hitting a bucket of balls before I play golf. She asks “Why can’t you just go out and have fun?” Well, unless I feel like I’m able to do my best, and feel that I am prepared to do just that, I can’t.
Right or wrong, that’s just the way I’ve always been wired. I’m certainly not trying to sanctify the way I make the bed, etc. I’ve just always tried to do my best at whatever the task is. It wasn’t until I started growing in my faith that two verses became particularly important and foundational for me as I strive to integrate my faith and work:
I have also been greatly helped by John Piper’s article “Lord-Focused Living at Work” that I first read in his 1997 book A Godward Life. It really reflects exactly how I want to approach my work. I used to keep that article in my notebook at work (back when we carried them), and have shared it with many people that I have worked with over the years.
Piper uses another verse to illustrate his points: Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Ephesians 6:7-8
What have my two core verses and Piper’s article taught me in integrating my faith and work?
- I should do my work heartily. Paul says that we are to do our work “heartily”. What does that mean? Matthew Henry, a pastor and author who lived from 1662-1714, wrote about this passage that we (servants), should “Do their duty, and obey their masters’ commands, in all things consistent with duty to God their heavenly Master. They must be both just and diligent; without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise.” When doing our work, we should “do all with diligence, not idly and slothfully; cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation.” I want to be diligent and content in my work, not slothful, or lazy, realizing that God has put me in the job I’m in. That’s the first reason.
- I should do my work to the best of my ability. Christians should be the best workers in whatever situation we are in. Why? Because we are doing our work for the Lord and what we do reflects on Him. That should be motivation enough. Piper writes that Christians should ask “How would the Lord like this done?” We should then do it in that manner to the best of our ability.
- I should do my work for the Lord and not for men. Let’s face it, we all have had unfair or bad supervisors from time to time. We all don’t receive the recognition and raises that we think we deserve. Paul says that whatever we do should be done as for the Lord, and not for us. Similarly, Piper writes that all our work should be done as work for Christ, and not for any human supervisor. He states that what we are asked to do by a supervisor should generally be viewed as an appeal from the Lord. I’ve found that to be a good perspective to have. Matthew Henry’s advice “Not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation” – now that’s a hard one when you have a lousy boss. Our contentment is in God as our provider, not in our circumstances.
- I should do my work for the glory of God. Each morning on the way to work, I pray that I would be able to effectively represent Christ and use the platform He’s given me at work. Piper writes that we should look at our work and ask “What effect will this have for the Lord’s honor?” We should do our work so that He gets the glory, not us. Piper writes that “Jesus said that when we let our light shine men will see our ‘good deeds’ and give glory to our Father in heaven. Lord-centered living does good deeds for the glory of the Lord.” May we all approach our work from a Lord-focused or Lord-centered perspective!
What about you? What verses or other resources are key for you as you do your work heartily, with quality and for the glory of God?