Work With Heart

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Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Col. 3:23

This verse raises three basic questions:

1) What is your work?

2) What is your motivation to work?

3) Whom do you work for?

Your Work

Colossians 3:23 was addressed to slaves. Though you may slave at your job, the Colosse workers were actual slaves—conquered peoples in service to Roman citizens. They had menial, routine, and dangerous days and little control over their work. By contrast, we usually have options for the kind of work we do. And a degree of control over how we do it. Ironically, with freedom and control come a great deal of responsibility—and therefore stress! Colossians 3:23 reminds us that God cares about our work regardless of our station—whether we are day laborers or corporate executives. Whatever we do for work, our relationship to God can affect how we do our work.

Your Motivation

The word "heartily" means to put heart into—to perform with a positive attitude. But that can be a tall order! Especially when work is going poorly, or the boss is dissatisfied, or problems (or problem people) hinder us from getting work done.

How can we "put heart into" our efforts under adverse circumstances? The rest of verse 23 is the answer: We decide whom we are working for. We'll look at that in a moment. But first, consider that to work heartily is as much about motivation as character. If you find yourself miserable at work, it may be the wrong job for you. A clear connection exists between job fit and joy and satisfaction. So if you grit your teeth driving to work, perhaps you need to identify how God designed you, then seek a job that makes better use of that design. Unlike the Roman slaves, you probably have options. (Of course, keep doing your best while in your current job.)

Your Boss

No matter your employer—even if you're self-employed—your ultimate boss is the Lord. Every time you take a phone call, send an email, make a decision, converse with a coworker, deal with a customer, break for lunch, or cash a paycheck, the Lord sees your work. That truth ought not to cause fear, but joy! You work for the Lord! The Lord who is good, fair, and honest. The Lord who gave you your talents. The Lord who gives you work itself as a gift (see Eccl. 5:18-19). The Lord is the boss every one of us wants. According to Colossians 3:23, we do work for Him. If we take that perspective with us to work—we can work with joy.

Questions for discussion:

• How might your relationship with God make a difference at work day-to-day?

• How joyful are you at work? Are you able to "put heart" into it? If not, what needs to change?

• Imagine the Lord standing next to you as you carry out your job. What one thing do you suppose He would want you to remember as you do your work?