Traditionally, the first Monday of September in the United States is observed as “Labor Day.” Citizens are asked to recognize the diligent work of men and women through the generations, people who have applied their skills and talents to provide services and produce goods of benefit to many.
Sadly, statistics continue to show the vast majority of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. Some studies indicate 70 percent of all workers, and perhaps even more than that, dislike or even hate the tasks they must perform every day. For them, work is nothing more than “a necessary evil.”
According to the Bible, that is not what God intended, even in the very beginning. The Bible’s first book, Genesis, states that in the process of creating humankind, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth’…. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’” (Genesis 1:26-30).
However, after what is called “the fall of man,” the work God ordained became difficult. “Cursed is the ground because of you, through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…” (Genesis 3:17-19).
These passages indicate God designed work to be rewarding, fulfilling, and easy to perform. Because of sin – humankind’s rebellion against God – work became difficult, frustrating, even agonizing.
So how are we to overcome this sense of work as “necessary evil” and regain the sense of work as enjoyable and meaningful? One of the best ways, it would seem, is by rededicating our work to God, asking Him to bless our efforts, and seeking to carry out our job responsibilities according to God’s laws and standards. Here are some basic principles to follow:
Work for God. We tend to pursue our work for our own gratification or to please those who exercise authority over us. While neither is inherently wrong, our ultimate goal should be to please and honor God. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Acknowledge your work is from God. Where you work, and the kind of work you do, is not an accident. God has you where you are, doing what you do, for His purpose. “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26).
Use your work as a platform to represent God. What better way to demonstrate the presence and reality of God than through our work? How we conduct ourselves at work earns us the right to speak for Him. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.
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1. If you were to align yourself either with people that love and truly enjoy their work, or others that dislike and merely endure it so they can earn a paycheck, which group would you choose? Explain your answer.
2. Do you believe the biblical declaration that God established and ordained work for the people He created? Why or why not?
3. What do you think of the concept of working for God first and foremost, rather than for your own personal gain or for the people to whom you report every day?
4. How much difference would it make if you fully believed the idea that God has placed you in the job you have today, even if not permanently, and one reason He has you there is to serve as His “ambassador,” representing Him to people who do not presently know or follow Him?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 12:24, 16:11, 18:9, 24:30-34; Matthew 4:19, 5:14-16, Colossians 4:5-6