A Monday Morning Faith
Have you ever wondered if what you're doing with your life and work are really worthwhile? Have you wanted to do something significant for God—to make your life really count?
When the last hymn has been sung and the benediction pronounced on Sunday morning, we walk out of church into the rest of life. Sadly, many of us don't see the connection between Sunday worship and Monday work—where we spend the bulk of our waking hours—so we look elsewhere for significant ways to serve God. Some even believe they should quit their job and go to seminary so their life can really count for God.
Yet the Apostle Paul would advise us, "Don't change jobs; change your attitude." In Colossians 3:22-4:6, he helps us reframe what it means to follow Jesus between Sundays. Three simple, but critical, attitude adjustments will transform our daily work into significant work for God's kingdom.
1. An attitude of service
The world says we must have power to be successful. But note the contrast: God says we go to work not to get others to serve us, but to serve them. Not to gain power, but to empower. This applies to everyone, no matter where we are on the corporate food chain. According to Paul, whether we're giving or taking orders, we are to take the lead in seeking the welfare and success of others. Whether I am an employee or an employer, Paul says I go to work not primarily for myself, but for others. I am to treat the people I work for fairly, giving to them the work they expect of me. As for those who work for me, I am to treat them justly and empower them to do their work.
2. An attitude of worship
The world says we must have prestige to be successful—to make a name for ourselves. But note the contrast: God says we go to work to make a name for God. Paul makes it clear that, at its core, work is a means of worship—a way we ascribe worth to God. Paul says whatever you do can be and should be done for the Lord. It is hard to escape the fact that Paul sees all kinds of work as meaningful and God-honoring. Paul's words obliterate the idea that God's work and one's daily work are separate departments.
Work is what we were created to do, and when we do our work well, as an act of love and worship "as unto the Lord," our work glorifies the God we serve. That, of course, means that we should do quality work and put our whole heart into it, because this is what God deserves.
3. An attitude of expectation
The world says we must have possessions to be successful. It's all about the money! But note the contrast: God says we go to work not primarily to make a living, but to earn an eternal reward. Think about it: Your daily work—as a teacher, banker, plumber, physician—counts for eternity. Paul clearly teaches that God will hold us accountable as stewards for what we do in our daily work.
Far from attacking our desire to profit from our work (since that's the way God made us), the Bible redirects us to pursue profit in the way God intended and remember that the ultimate reward for good labor is to stand before God and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." In his insightful essay, "Weight of Glory," C. S. Lewis suggests that God finds our desire for profit too small, not too large. "We are," as he says, "far too easily pleased" with worldly things, when what we really want is waiting for us before God.
The Bottom Line
Each of us will stand before God and give account for what we did with our Monday-through-Saturdays, so we should keep these two truths top of mind:
1. Our daily work is significant to God and his kingdom.
Whether we're leading a company or leading a church, changing a tire or changing a diaper, making a sales pitch or sharing Christ with a coworker. To make our life count for God and feel the pleasure of extending his kingdom doing the work he has gifted us to do, we don't need to change jobs. We need to change our attitude.
Truth is, we can make any job secular or sacred by our attitude. We should all go to work for the same reasons we go to church—to worship God and serve our fellow man. In fact, if we go to work for a different reason than our pastor does, then one of us is going to work for the wrong reason.
2. Work is a key, not an enemy, of one's spiritual life.
Keeping faith and work in separate departments does irreparable harm. Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that we can be serious about our work and serious about serving God at the same time. Not to say that our work can't get out of balance with other important activities of life.
The point to grasp is that Paul sees work as an essential part of the spiritual life. Those who want to separate faith and work have a real problem making Paul's words in Colossians 3:23, "work at it with all your heart," fit with Jesus' words in Matthew 22:37, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart."
If God and work are separate departments, then how can we love the Lord with all our heart and devote all of that same heart to our work? We'd have to disobey one command to obey the other. Besides, can we really care at a heart level about a God who doesn't care about what we devote so much of our lives doing? On the other hand, if all work is God's work, and we do our work with all our heart, attempting to bring glory to God, then our work can be a supreme act of love and worship of God.
In Paul's mind, a person would be hard-pressed to please God apart from a healthy attitude toward work. Bringing life into proper balance is impossible unless we see our work as important to God. After all, if we think God doesn't care about our work, then not only will we operate as if we're totally on our own, but God will become an add-on—a leisure-time option we may or may not make room for when it's convenient. But if he indeed does care about our work—and every part of life—then we'll see our relationship with him as essential and depend on him in everything we do.
So, next Sunday when you sing the closing hymn and hear the benediction, think about the opportunities you will have to serve God in the week ahead. Does what happens on Sunday have anything to do with the rest of your week? You bet it does! Take time to do an attitude check. Make sure you're thinking about how you can serve the people in your workplace and do your work with the quality, integrity, and dedication that God deserves. Then, envision yourself standing before God and hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Questions for personal reflection, online discussion, or small groups:
- How would an attitude change on your part impact your work? Your coworkers?
- What would it look like for you to love God while you do your work?
- Can you put your whole heart into your work while at the same time love God with all your heart? What are the barriers?
- For more, check out the following at The High Calling: "Why Work Is Holy"