Working for the Weekend? How to Find Purpose in Your Work
Raise your hand if you like your job. Raise your hand if you like your boss. Raise your hand if you like your salary. Chances are, you didn’t raise your hand three times. Work isn’t always what we want it to be. We see in Genesis 3 that one of the effects of the Fall is that work is hard. Whether we are talking about our vocation or the other daily tasks that demand our time and effort, frustrations and difficulties are likely the norm and not the exception. Sometimes we want to complain. Sometimes we want to check out. Sometimes we want to give up.
In Colossians 3:22-24, Paul lays out some important principles to influence and guide the way we work. As you read, consider whether your pattern and approach to work mirror what we see in the Scriptures.
Principle #1- Fear the Lord
“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”
Paul warns us against a dangerous way to approach our work: Caring more about the opinion of man than God. While the context of our work isn’t the same as the context Paul is writing in, we also experience the temptation for our work to be “eye-service.” You know what this looks like. If your boss isn’t around, you don’t work as hard as you would if he or she were sitting right next to you. When they come near, you kick your efforts into high gear. Only working hard when someone is watching you isn’t really hard work. It’s eye-service. Your greatest concern is the opinion of your boss. In that moment, you are operating as a people-pleaser instead of a God-pleaser. Paul says that we should work with a heart that is motivated by a fear of the Lord. If you only work hard when the eyes of your boss are upon you, your heart (effort) will lack the appropriate fear of the Lord that should be evident for those in Christ.
Principle #2- Believe the Lord
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”
For servants or slaves, you can understand where the temptation to work in a way that pleases people comes from . What benefit would they have for working hard all the time? They weren’t getting paid. They didn’t have the same freedoms that our jobs afford. No 401-k on the line. No promotion or salary bump to motivate them. So why bother? Paul tells them: your reward is in heaven. There is a better reward than simply making it through the end of the day with some fuel left in your tank. Work with all your heart, not for men, but for God. This is how all of life is meant to be lived–unto the Lord. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our mind and with all of our strength (Mark 12:30). Surely work is not an exception. Notice that our circumstances don’t negate this command. We don’t love God with all that we have and work for him with all our heart as long as we like what we are doing, or as long as our boss is nice, or as long as the parameters of our job are fair. No, we love God with all that we have and work with all of our heart because of Him! God is worthy of our love. God is worthy of our work. Additionally, God holds out a greater reward than pleasing a master or boss. “You will receive the inheritance as your reward.” God’s job is to make promises and deliver on them. Your job is to believe and obey. If you experience a lack of motivation or desire to work hard, consider your level of belief in God’s promises.
Principle #3- Serve the Lord
“You are serving the Lord Christ.”
This is a good reminder. One of the most practical things the gospel does for us is reorients our way of thinking away from ourselves and toward God. We have a tendency in our sinfulness to make everything about us. But the gospel reminds us that nothing is about us. Your job isn’t about you. Paul reminds us that we are serving the Lord Christ. Earlier in this chapter, we see that everything we do is meant to be done in the name of Jesus (vs 17). In his name means for his name. Who receives glory and honor and praise for the things you say and do? Does the manner in which you work aim for the glorification of self or the glorification of Christ? Do you seek to promote your name and your fame in how you do your job or do you seek to promote the name and fame of the Lord Jesus Christ? Whether we like our job or not, we should remember we are working to serve Jesus. Whether we have a fair and just boss or not, we should remember that we are working to serve Jesus. Whether we make the amount of money we want to or not, we should remember that we are working to serve Jesus.
As you think about the work you will do today (vocational or otherwise), my hope is that you will seek to be a God-pleaser and not a people-pleaser. Remember that you are serving Jesus. Remember that your reward is in heaven.
Kent is a native of southern Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois. He holds an MA in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He met his wife Hope at a Christian sports camp in Pennsylvania in 2007. They got married in 2010 and have three kids: Silas, Anna, and Grace. He is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and loves talking about the intricacies of the golf swing. As a pastor, he loves having a front-row seat to watch how Jesus transforms people’s lives.