Work and the Christian
The Christian faces many challenges in today’s work environment. Most of us are familiar with Ephesians 6:5-8
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. NKJV
There are many lessons in this one passage, some of which follow:
- We are to give our best efforts to our employer (master) as to Christ. Just keeping this as our mental picture every day will help most of us. Yes, it’s difficult when the employer (master) is hard or mean or cruel, but we are serving One Who is Higher.
- These efforts are not just done out of duty, begrudgingly, but from the heart as doing the will of God. This attitude colors our performance, our influence on our employer (master) and our fellow employees. We are the Bible to those with whom we work.
- God gives the ultimate reward. We do not need to be overly concerned about our rewards from men while upon this earth. Our spiritual rewards are far more important. If we are seen as scheming and greedy, then we do a disservice to our Maker.
Another challenge we could face is the unfairness of our employer and fellow workers. Sometimes we are evaluated unfairly. Sometimes we are lied about by fellow workers. Sometimes a fellow worker will shirk their duties and cause us to carry an unfair burden. Sometimes fellow workers will wrongfully claim credit for our good efforts.
No matter what the case, we have a responsibility, as Christians, to act differently. We are taught by Christ in Matthew 5:44:
- But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, NKJV
This admonishment includes those who are unfair to us at work.
Another challenge is the worldly attitude and behavior so often found in today’s work place. As Christians we need to stand out from our fellow workers if they partake in worldly and carnal pursuits. If we laugh at carnal talk and jokes, then we give approval to our fellow workers in their ungodly behavior. This is especially hard, but we teach our children to avoid bad practices by their friends at school, so we have to give a good example for their sakes and ours. Many times co-workers will expect us to participate in activities or go to places that are wrong for the Christian. My experience is that drawing the line early in the relationship will save possible embarrassment or misunderstanding later. Most people will respect someone who is consistent and godly in their practice (although some seem to despise or belittle such behavior).
Finally, a special challenge is for those who must travel much in their vocation.
For over 35 years, my theme song was “On the Road Again.” My typical week was to fly out on Monday and return on Friday night. When I was new to the job, the travel was exciting and interesting, but after a few years there was a sameness and routine to it all.
I found out that many times the individual attracted to this type of work suffered from road boredom and weariness or overindulgence which typically led to
alcohol and carousing. Over the years several of my fellow workers (men and women) ended up in broken marriages and broken families.
One of the ironies that I have discovered on the road is that you never know who is watching you. Recently, I found out that Steve Harbin and I were staying at the same hotel on the same night in Redmond, WA. Neither one of us knew this until a week later. Be a good example!
So how can Christians avoid the many pitfalls that face them on the road?
- Try to find a job that doesn’t involve being on the road too much. This is not always possible, but should be a serious consideration before taking such a job.
- Determine that you will act properly on the road and find the right motivation
- Get a job with a Christian boss or at least an ethical employer. This does not always work like it should, because Christian bosses or employees do not always behave as they should.
- Find constructive use of “dead time” on the road. Exercise, watch sports on TV (not pornographic movies or internet pornography), read your Bible or a good book.
- Recognize that people in the business world practice bad moral behavior as the norm. Determine that you will not take part in any activity that a Christian should avoid. Most people will understand.
- Flee like Joseph! When a temptation is placed squarely in front of you, take off.
So be like Daniel, let your faith to God be evident to all men, regardless of the personal consequences. You may not be delivered from the lions, but you will be delivered from our adversary who goes about as a roaring lion.