God's Man in the Workplace
© 2004 E. E. Perry
Today, many Christians practice the separation of church and business. They seem to believe church matters are church matters, business matters are business matters, and the two should never come within a thousand miles of each other. We've all heard the phrase "but this is business" used as an excuse for cheating someone or doing something ethically questionable. I am sad to report that some of the laziest people I have ever worked with are Christians. This is nothing new. Paul saw it in his day, and in the sixth chapter of his letter to the church at Ephesus, he gives advice to the Christian worker.
In the first century AD, employment consisted of masters and servants. Servants were either bond servants or hired servants. If you will allow me the courtesy, I would like for you to think of yourself as a hired servant of your boss, as we discuss this passage from Paul's letter. After all, you were hired by your boss to do a job, and you are providing him a service.
In Ephesians 6:5-8, Paul emphasizes three points that relate to the Christian at work. These three points have mostly to do with our attitude toward our superiors and our work. Paul tells the Christian employee to respect their boss, work hard all the time, and find joy in their work.
Show Your Superiors Respect
Paul tells the Christian worker to obey his earthly master in the same manner that he obeys his Heavenly Master. Remember that your boss has the power to dock your pay or fire you. Give them the respect that their position deserves.
Peter gets a little more specific in 1 Peter 2:18. Peter exhorts the Christian worker to show his earthly masters respect no mater what! Not only those that are kind and fair, but even those that are unjust. The point being, we need to respect our superiors even when we think they are being unfair, or poor managers.
In his letter to Titus, Paul says that servants should not only submit in everything and try to please their masters, but they should not argue with their masters (Titus 2:9). The Christian worker is charged to obey, and to do so without complaining. Not just when the boss is right, but "in everything." Do what you are told without complaining.
Paul goes on to tell Titus that servants should not steal from their masters (Titus 2:9-10). How often do we take a little of this or that from the office? A note pad, pencils, paper that no one will miss. If you do not have permission from your supervisor; then this is theft. May I recommend that if you need something for personal use that you ask your supervisor. It will surprise you how often he says yes.
Work Hard All the Time
I have said before that some of the laziest people I have ever worked with were Christians. This discourages me, because non-Christian workers see this and discredit Christians as a lazy group. Christians should work hard in order to dispel this notion.
Twice in his writings, Paul urges Christians to work hard all the time, not only when the boss is watching (Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22). We have all seen it. The worker who is browsing the Internet or goofing off when the boss is not around, but quickly finds something to do when the boss shows up at their work station. This should not happen. The Christian should always work when he is suppose to work; then, when the boss shows up, he will find him busy at work.
In Colossians 3:23, Paul reminds the Christian to work wholeheartedly (with the best effort you have) as though you were doing your work for the Lord. You wouldn't give God a half-hearted effort; don't give your boss a half-hearted effort. Everything you do for the Lord, you want to give your very best effort. You should give your boss the same best effort.
Be A Happy Worker
I would like to think that when we do service for Jesus, we do it with a happy heart. We should labor for our earthly masters with the same cheerful heart. Cheerfulness greatly improves the work environment. No one wants to work with a sour-puss.
All our duties to our earthly masters should be done as though we were doing our work for the Lord (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23). We will always give Jesus the best that we have. Our attitude at work should reflect this.
Paul goes one step further by telling the Christian worker that not only should we work as though we are working for the Lord, but in our service to our earthly masters, we are actually working for the Lord (Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24). God has a reward in store for us for the good work that we do. This includes the good work that we do for our earthly masters.
All this hard work and good attitude is a part of our testimony to our superiors and co-workers (Titus 2:10). When they see the honest, hard working, great attitude of the Christian worker, they should see a difference. A Christian worker should be above average rather than just average.
|© copyright 2004 E. E. Perry|