In the Workplace, But Not of ItBlog / Produced by The High Calling
From the daily grind to unethical demands, Christians struggle to honor God at work. How do we find our identity amidst the challenges of vocational excellence, ethics, evangelism, and essence? If we emphasize one of these aspects to the neglect of the other, our motivation for work is easily distorted and our results can dishonor God. However, if we approach our work with these four aspects of work in proper focus, work can become worship! We can work in the workplace and not be "of it."
The way we carry out our work can honor or dishonor God. If we fudge on the books, arrive late to work, or lie about our progress, we deny God honor in the realm of creation and culture. Even if our ethical compromise produces a superior product, we cheat the Creator of his glory by denying his moral nature and biblical commands. The end does not justify the means. Christian work cannot be excellent and unethical. How we work reflects who we are.
On the other hand, we can work ethically without producing excellence. You may be punctual and honest while turning out inferior reports and products. If we are to do our work in an excellent way, we must not only strive to honor the moral nature of God but also the essential nature of God, his manifold excellence and comprehensive glory.
Too many people use their workplace as a platform for evangelism. The film The Big Kahuna comes to mind, in which Bob makes work an excuse for evangelism. As a result, he blows the business deal. Christian work does not compromise excellence for the sake of evangelism.
To be sure, the workplace is a place of people, eternal beings with eternal destinies, people with real struggles and issues that only the gospel can solve. But if we do our work without redemptive concern for others, we reduce the purpose of our vocation to self-concern and self-promotion. Thus, it is important that we work with a broader view of the gospel, as a message that affects all of life, from people to culture.
Work as reflection on vocational essence is simply working with the nature and character of God in view. The attributes of God are reflected in the essence of our work. Artistic work reflects God’s life-giving creativity. Computer based work relies upon binary code, a sequence of ones and zeroes that enables our computers to function. In essence, computer work reflects order, order that reflects the orderly nature of God. Orderly computers can be used to crank out pornography, or they can be used to help care for hospital patients. But the essence of what computers do in our work reflects the orderly character of God.
Identity and Work
How do we find our identity in God instead of in work that is ethical, excellent, evangelistic, and theologically reflective? In order to avoid the pitfalls of these approaches to work, we must work from our acceptance in Christ, not for our acceptance. We should not seek the acceptance and applause of our coworkers or competition through unethical or less than excellent work. Instead, we can rest in God' acceptance and approval, working excellently to honor him (Col 3:22; 1 Cor. 15:50-58). No matter how tight our work ethic, we will inevitably fail. Instead of taking comfort in our superior work ethic, Christ calls us to rest in his finished work on our behalf (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 9:23-28).
Instead of approaching work with a narrow view of the gospel, we can take the whole gospel into the whole workplace, contributing to the whole of society and ministering to people’s individual needs. As a result, we do excellent, ethical, and evangelistic work, not to earn God’s favor or to impress others, but as a faith effort, as an act of worship. As you work, rest in his acceptance and work for his honor.