Is it true that Christians should be the best workers? It depends.
I remember one of our pastors telling me years ago about a comment that one of their seminary professors had made in class. They said that if the married students were consistently getting straight “A’s” in class, they were obviously not spending enough time with their families. I think I know what the professor was getting at. If we apply it to our work, we could ask that if we consistently excel at work, could we be giving a lesser effort (time, energy, engagement) to our families, ministry and our relationship with God. Excelling at work includes more than just the effort and results you achieve during the regular workday. It also includes taking job-related classes and studying for exams, be they industry designations or certification or a Master’s Degree.
Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert address the balance that is needed in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs. They write that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, we should not be idle at work, but instead do excellent work. On the other hand, we should not make work an idol by being a workaholic, placing work above our family and church responsibilities.
My introduction to connecting my faith and work was when I read John Piper’s 1997 book of daily readings A Godward Life. In that book of 120 readings was one that particularly impacted me in regards to my work. It was titled Lord Focused Living at Work. That article was life-changing for me as far as how I approached my work. For years I kept a laminated copy of the article in my notebook at work and handed out many copies to co-workers and supervisors to explain how I approached my work – basically doing my work for the Lord as opposed to any earthly supervisor or organization.
My two favorite scripture verses that I use for my approach to work are:
- Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
- So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
I believe that 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. But I’ve unfortunately worked with professing Christians who were poor performers at work. They didn’t represent themselves or Jesus well in the workplace.
In The Gospel at Work, Traeger and Gilbert tell us that no matter what our job is or who our boss is, what we do in our jobs is actually done in service to King Jesus. They tell us that our work has purpose and meaning because we are ultimately doing it for the King. Who we work for is more important than what we do.
Piper suggests we ask the following questions about our work:
- Why would the Lord like this done?
- How would the Lord like this done?
- When would the Lord like this done?
- Will the Lord help me do this?
- What affect will this have for the Lord’s honor?
Building on the idea of doing our work for King Jesus, Piper writes that what we are asked to do by a supervisor should generally be viewed as an appeal from the Lord.
Do you agree that Christians should be the best workers in whatever situation we are in? Why or why not?