by Brian Anderson
“There’s no greater mission field than your workplace!”
“Invite that co-worker to church this week!”
“Be the light in the darkness of your evil, secular job!”
Wait. My job is EVIL?
There’s some truth there; however, I know I’m not the only believer who, after hearing similar cliché, bumper-sticker slogans, feels a destructive mixture of guilt, inadequacy, and fear. Christians often learn that the only value to their work is as a mission field where they have to save their co-workers. When approached this way, proclaiming the importance of work often leads to opposite conclusions: Christians’ work matters only in as much as they’re willing to evangelize in the workplace, and only sinners seek career satisfaction. The work itself becomes a replaceable part of the missions equation, and although, “Yes, yes, it matters,” it actually doesn’t matter at all. Consequently, if the job itself lacks significance, the related outcome of that work matters even less.
What horrible lies.
All work matters to God and in two capacities: first, as a mission field and next, in and of itself as an ordained task with which you are called to professionally excel. Most know that we’re always and everywhere on mission, but what about that other thing? Professional excellence? Does God really care how much I enjoy my work or how good I am at my job? Resoundingly, yes!
God cares as much about the actual work that you accomplish as He does about your inviting that co-worker to church. He divinely commissions all of your work, from your career to your home to your church to your hobbies, AS IT IS for your good and His glory (Phi. 2:13, Rom. 8:28). His grace provides, sanctifies, and empowers it AS IT IS.
So, how does this influence your behavior at work? Like all Christian truth, orthodoxy (right thought) nurtures orthopraxy (right action). Shouldn’t your co-workers, after examining your work, witness evidence of the power of the gospel? The Christian who apathetically produces poor-quality work shows the world that Jesus isn’t really a life-changer, much less a life-saver. Those 40-50 hours a week appears equally miserable with or without the grace of God. Who wants that?
Therefore, we must show the world that God gives new hearts (Ezk. 36:26-27), and with new hearts, we joyfully do the best work possible wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing (Col. 3:23-24). When you do excellent (i.e. efficient, quality) work, you proclaim the excellent work of Jesus in your life, the new affections He stirs up within you, and the life-change those new affections produce (2 Cor. 5:17).
So, when it comes to your work, God cares primarily for your satisfaction with it and your excellence in it, because it is through those two qualities that His glory shines to bring the lost unto Himself. Labor joyfully. Labor excellently–as He did and does for you.