Sharing the Gospel Through Competence
The first task of ambassadors of Christ in the workplace is to do our work with excellence—because our competence weighs in heavily on our credibility. Competence means doing our best work, putting our heart into it, providing excellent products and services that meet legitimate human needs.
Scripture speaks about the importance of doing good work in a number of places. For example:
Do you see those who are skillful in their work? They will serve kings. (Proverbs 22:29)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)
We should not be surprised that our work as inextricably connected to our witness. Consider the following:
- God is a worker and made mankind in his own image as such. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, God introduces himself as a worker—a creator, designer, builder, ruler, and real estate developer—and from the beginning, work has been part of God’s intention for the human race. It is integral to being human. God told our first human parents to diligently cultivate and keep the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) to be productive in their work to bring creation to full flower (Genesis 1:28).
- Adam’s very being, future, and identity are bound up with the earth and his work upon it.
- We reflect the image of God through our work. As Christ’s ambassadors, we have the responsibility to embody Christ in our own dynamic vocational contexts. Michael Williams writes, “We exist for the purpose of imaging God, reflecting him into the world, copying something of him into the lives of the people and societies around us.”
- The quality of our work and our attitude toward our work tells people a lot about us—and the God we serve. Can you imagine Jesus using substandard materials, performing shoddy carpentry, or overcharging his customers? Had he done so, customers who heard him teach would have every reason to conclude that his theology was as wobbly as his tables.
- Paul tells us that the products and services we provide to supply the needs of others and shape the development of human life are key ways in which we love our neighbor: "Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, … we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one." (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
- When we do good work, God is glorified. Abraham Kuyper explains, "Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or his mind, in the world of art, and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of his God, he is employed in the service of his God, he has strictly to obey his God, and above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God."
Doing good work with a servant’s heart and “as done for the Lord” brings glory to God and goes a long way toward earning us the right to be heard. Conversely, we undermine our witness if we shirk our work, do our work poorly, or work only for our own self-interest.
The bottom line: In the workplace, people judge us first by our work, not our theology. If we want people to pay attention to our faith, we must pay attention to our work.
Darrell Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2006), p. 91.
Michael D. Williams, “First Calling: The Imago Dei and the Order of Creation - Part I” Presbyterion 39/1 (Spring 2013) p. 44.
Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007), p.53