“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
When I was 16 years old, I had my first job, as an orderly at a hospital. I was entrusted with transporting patients to and from the radiology department. I’m not sure what the patients thought when they saw me coming with the wheelchair or stretcher, but thankfully we all survived.
We may or may not talk about it a lot, but it is a part of our daily lives: WORK. In the United States, there is even a holiday to celebrate the contributions of the workforce — Labor Day.
How we perceive our work varies from person to person. For some, it is all about the paycheck. For a fortunate few, their work is centered around their passion. They get to spend every day doing what they love and get paid for it.
There are also many who work but do not receive a salary, like stay-at-home moms and caregivers or those who are retired from their jobs but still volunteer.
Regardless of the “why” or “what” of our work, one thing should be consistent for the working believer: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23).
As someone who has been in the workforce for more than 30 years (yikes, did I type that out loud?), I’ve learned there are several ways we can practically demonstrate “working for the Lord”:
1. Completing our assignments.
We are at work to work, and we should do it well. This means getting our tasks done thoroughly and on time. People should see us, Christians, as the standard of a good employee. Our work ethic can either point people to Christ or away from Him.
The story of Joseph in the Old Testament reflects this idea well. “So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.” (Genesis 39:6a, NIV) If we exchanged “Potiphar” for the names of the people we work for, could we insert our name where Joseph’s is?
2. Constructive feedback.
When we work for someone else, we might be evaluated on an annual basis. Sometimes, we are also given opportunities to provide feedback. In the moment, it’s easy to stay silent out of fear but then complain later about how things are done.
As we continue with Joseph’s story, we see that when he was given the opportunity, Joseph provided Pharaoh with a plan (see Genesis 41). Because of it, many lives were saved. We have the same Spirit of God in us, giving us ideas and insights others won’t have. We can be a blessing to our employers and the people around us if we are willing to share what God puts in us.
Whether we are giving or receiving feedback, we should do so with a humble spirit.
3. Considerate communication.
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6, NASB1995)
ALWAYS, no matter what our personality type, introvert or extrovert, and no matter what is happening at home or how bad traffic was, we should be respectful and kind to everyone we encounter at work.
Joseph’s transition from the prison to the palace hinged on one question to his fellow prisoners: “Why do you look so sad today?” (Genesis 40:7b, NIV). This question led to him interpreting their dreams and would eventually open the door for him to stand before Pharaoh.
Saying “good morning,” “please” and “thank you” can go a long way! When we look people in the eye and ask them how they are doing, we demonstrate concern on a personal level. Who knows? Maybe, like in Joseph's life, a promotion could happen as a result.
4. Counting our blessings.
The ability to work is a privilege. The job itself serves a purpose, no matter what we do or who recognizes our contributions as important. It may not always feel like it, but our work is a blessing from God. Now, it is up to us to be a blessing to the people we work with.
Dear Father, thank You for the opportunity and ability to work. Help me glorify You in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NKJV)
What’s one thing can you do to be a better worker, whatever work looks like in your life?
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