Theology Thursday: How Can I Live on Mission in the Workplace?
How can I live on mission in the workplace? In order to answer this question, we have to come first to a biblical view of work.
In This Article:
- Is Work Just a Grind?
- Work Is How You Serve Others
- Work Is One Way to Serve God
- How Can I Impact My Workplace?
- Two Key Factors: Quality Work and Kindness
- Open Doors and Patience
- Prayer At All Times
- Conclusion: Working and Mission
Is Work Just a Grind?
Many people think of their jobs as what they put up with to be able to support themselves. The famous phrase TGIF (“thank God it’s Friday”) echoes this feeling. Work is a part of life that we grind out and endure and then “real life” happens outside the workplace.
Work Is How You Serve Others
But God’s idea of work is much different. God gave work to mankind as part of his good creation. He gave the first humans a job in the Garden, “to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15, NIV). Thus, work was part of creation before sin entered the world. One of the consequences of sin was that it made work harder for us, but God is still the one who gives us work to do and work is still good.
Second, work is a primary way that we serve others and God. We can readily see how people in the so-called “helping professions” like nursing are serving others. But people in other kinds of professions are also serving others when they do their jobs faithfully. For example, a person who works on telephone systems is serving people by keeping the telephones operating. If the phone service goes down, not only do businesses suffer but lives can be endangered. What about a chemist who tests water quality? Accurate results can impact the health of thousands of people. What about a plumber, or a computer repair person, or an elementary school teacher? All these professions impact people, and if people do these jobs well, then they are helping others.
Work Is One Way to Serve God
But am I serving God when I do my job well? Paul wrote in Colossian 3:23:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
We show our love to God in many ways, including worship and prayer. But a primary way that we demonstrate our love to God is by loving others through our work.
How Can I Impact My Workplace?
This brings us back to the original question, which is How can I live on mission in the workplace? Rephrasing that: How can my life impact people in my workplace in a way that leads them to Christ? People may think that the most essential element of influencing people for Christ is how well they know the Bible. But although Bible knowledge is important, it is less important than two other factors.
Two Key Factors: Quality Work and Kindness
The first key factor for living on mission is that I must work hard and do my job well. And the second factor is that I treat other people well. This may sound like common sense, and it is.
If I do sloppy work or am always late in meeting deadlines so that I cause other people not to be able to get their work done, then people will learn that I cannot be trusted. And if I am unfriendly to my coworkers, for example, by not sharing information with people or being rude and hard to get along with, who will want to listen to what I have to say about anything? My actions will completely undermine any mission I imagine I have. If I am a bad worker and act like a jerk, the Kingdom of God would be served better if I kept my mouth shut about my Christianity.
Open Doors and Patience
On the other hand, if I do work hard and become good at my job and if I treat others with respect and kindness, listening to them and getting to know them, then I may find opportunities to share about the God who gives me strength and peace.
This may not happen overnight, and we need patience. I need to demonstrate over the long haul how God helps me. For example, when I experience crises or stressful times at work, I can demonstrate peace. When people treat me poorly, I can respond with kindness. When other people are going through difficult times, I can show compassion and offer to help. If I establish a consistent track record, then when the inevitable trials come into other people’s lives (and they will come), they may see me as someone they can turn to for help.
Prayer At All Times
It may sound like a cliché but living on mission cannot work without consistent and sincere prayer. I need to pray that God will enable me to be a good worker and a good neighbor to my co-workers. I need to pray that God will reveal to me where I am not doing good work and where I am not treating others well, and that I will have the humility to correct these things and ask for forgiveness. Then I can pray that God will open doors for me to tell others about the hope that I have in Christ and that God will give me wisdom to know what to say. There are no magic formulas. Every person and situation is different, and so I need wisdom from God for each day.
Conclusion: Working and Mission
When I realize that I am working for God, when I am doing my job well and relating well with my co-workers, and when I am praying for God to open doors, then I can live effectively on mission in my workplace.
Want to learn how to relate to others and show God’s love in the workplace? GCU can kick-start your mission with our theology and ministry degree programs offered by the College of Theology. Read more Theology Thursday today and fill out the form on this page to learn more.
Approved by full-time faculty for the College of Theology on March 13, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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