Theology Thursday: How Does Theology Affect My Job?

Christian Wilder, Faculty, College of Theology

Man uses his religious faith to interact with others at his job

That is a very good question. Before answering it, however, a few words have to be defined. First, what is meant by “Theology”? Here, we’re not referring only to systematics or biblical theology but to an all-encompassing understanding of God and our faith in Him. Second, what do we mean by “Job”? This might be your vocation, but it also might be that volunteer position you work during the weekends or the side-job you have cutting people’s lawns after school.

Apply Your Religious Faith to Your Job Performance

Putting everything together, we’re asking: “How does all that we believe and know about God affect how we interact in this world while trying to accomplish specific tasks?” Such tasks might include earning a living, or a little extra money, or volunteering somewhere.

Before we go further, however, we need to ask a second question. Should our theology affect our job? The answer to that question is a resounding yes!

You can consider it this way. Can you truly say you believe in something if you do not act on what you believe? If you believe that your second-story porch can hold the weight of a picnic table, then if the opportunity presents itself, you’ll put a picnic table on the porch. However, if you decide to put the picnic table on the ground-level patio because you’re afraid of the consequences, then you don’t truly believe the porch can hold the weight.

So, if we have a set of beliefs about God that are supposed to shape the foundation of our worldview, then they will also shape how we go about our work.

Accept That Others Are Made in God’s Image

Let’s begin with attitude. If you work with the public, it is easy to have a bad attitude at times. I remember working my way through graduate school as a teller in a bank. We were only allowed one thousand dollars in our main till and nine thousand more dollars in our secondary till. If we went over that amount, we’d have to transfer money out, which took both time and paperwork. That meant we did not enjoy customers who came in with a lot of cash.

We had one customer who was a concert promoter. Not only did he deal in large amounts of cash, but he was often demanding and sharp-tongued. Inevitably, he would come into the bank late afternoon on a Monday (our busiest day) and deposit tens of thousands of dollars, which meant we had to count every bill as he watched intently. Then, he’d push across a bag of coins. That bag might contain a hundred dollars-worth of various coins!

The whole time with him was so unpleasant that tellers would close their windows when it was his time just so they didn’t have to deal with him. Others would extend their time with another customer to make sure they didn’t get him at their window. Sadly, I fell to the temptation of extending time with other customers as well so I could avoid working with him.

In hindsight, I fell victim to temptation because my commitment to my theology was not strong enough. That man was worthy of dignity and respect based on the image of God within him. If I truly believed that he was made in God’s image (and that meant I showed him the dignity and respect he deserved), then I should have welcomed him with a smile and sought to help him any way I could. (Note, he was never abusive, just abrasive.)

Love One Another — Even at Work

In that same bank, I had a coworker who also was a Christian. She was in charge when the assistant manager for the operations side was off. Unfortunately, very few of us got along with her.

One day, I noticed she was really struggling. So, I followed her into the break room to find her in tears. In all honesty, part of me wanted to turn around and walk out of the break room. However, if I really believe that Jesus is God and the Bible is God’s inspired word, then I must take what it records Christ saying seriously. In John 15:12, Jesus says, “My command is this, love each other as I have loved you.” While this passage falls in the middle of a teaching concerning Jesus and his disciples, it also applied to me. If I truly believed the words of Jesus, I needed to show love. So, I stepped forward and encouraged her.

In both cases, my actions showed my theology. In the first, I had to realize that I didn’t fully believe every human was made in God’s image and was worthy of dignity and respect. Only those humans who didn’t irritate me on a Monday afternoon at work were made in God’s image. That is a scary realization. In the second, I realized that to be committed to Jesus was to act out his words, and so, that is what I did.

The Takeaway: Reflect a Godly Attitude in Your Job

I’ve discussed only two ways in which our theology should affect the way we go about our work, and there are many others that could be explored. For instance, Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer. In fact, on the day that you accepted Jesus, the Holy Spirit came into you and sealed you for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14). So, in every way, a Christian should reflect a godly attitude in all that is done.

Another way concerns the doctrine of God (known as Theology Proper). God sees all and knows all, and furthermore, God will provide for all our needs. Those three elements of Christian theology should affect a Christian’s integrity in sales, dealing with regulations, or just properly marking a timecard.

So, how is your theology faring at work? What does your performance on your job say about what you really believe?

Read more Theology Thursday and learn more about the theology and ministry programs offered by GCU’s College of Theology today.

 

Approved by Faculty for the College of Theology on Sept. 20, 2022.

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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