23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Work needs a story.
Alastair McIntier once made the point that how we frame the story is of ultimate importance in our response. He uses the example of a stranger who walks up to you and says, “The name of the small sea duck is histrionicus, histrionicus, histrionicus.”
The only way to make sense of it is to put it into a story: 1. He is crazy. 2. He mistook you for someone who was asking the name of a sea duck previously. 3. Or he is a spy.
You will either want to run away from his as a maniac, tell him he’s mistaken you for someone else or call the police all based up the story you frame around that one sentence.
In the same way, we have to put our work into a context in order to feel good about it.
The story to put the context of work into is the fall, redemption, restoration.
"Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God." (Ephesians 6:6 The Message)
WHAT MISSION AT WORK LOOKS LIKE:
1. DO YOUR WORK WITH ALL YOUR HEART
“Do it with all your heart”
Christians should work hard. And their hard work should be seen as a part of their Christian purpose of joining Christ in his redemptive work of creation. We are about curse reversal.
Martin Luther points out that the bible says “God feeds all he creates.” And “God strengthens the gates of the city”. But think about who actually feeds and who actually strengthens gates –It’s people who are working. So all working is God’s work.
This passage is teaching us that we should work with wholehearted enthusiasm because we are doing the work of the Lord.
It is also saying that in our work, we should exemplify the characteristics of Christ- Love joy peace patience kindness, goodness and self control.
The heart is the very seat of our soul, our emotions, and our passions. It is the very essence of our being and that which drives our thoughts and our motives. No wonder God tells us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart is the foundation of life. It is what drives passion for the Lord and passion for service in the kingdom. No doubt most of us feel called in a deep way from the bottom of our hearts.
And yet, with seemingly little notice, out of our hearts can spew some of the most ungodly thoughts and attitudes - even in the midst of doing good things. I’ve had moments that have unnerved me when my heart fills with carnal thinking.
I’ve had admit that I’ve been “spirit filled” in the wrong way at times.
I’ve been spirit filled by the spirit of selfishness, of deceit, of anger, of jealousy, of retaliation.
This was a spirit that was not coming from God; it was coming from the enemy. Even though I felt righteous in my motive, it certainly was not the best way to handle things. As leaders, we must be constantly aware that the enemy will do everything he can to render us ineffective in service to our Lord.
I had to come before the Lord and pray to him,
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).
"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11).
"Refresh my heart in Christ" (Philemon 1:20b).
God gave me his promise in response,
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
2. SLAY THE IDOL OF SELF
I AM WORKING AS TO THE LORD
When Jesus says you work for the Lord, not “earthly masters”, he’s making the point that our tendency is to turn good things into idols. Work can become an idol of self. We tend to identify our selves with our work.
If your work is your identity, it will destroy you. IF work is your identity, then even if you are successful it will destroy you by puffing you up. Your whole life gets distorted.
You have to have a deep sense of your work that is grounded in something other than your work.
To find joy in work you have to drag the idol of self to the alter and slay it. And you have to do it every day.
This means that it is not enough to simply work in order to make the sale or get the paycheck. We have to work in such a way that people will truly be benefited. If doing our work in a certain way will earn the money, but not truly benefit the other person (perhaps by cutting corners on quality), we are not doing our work in a Christian way. Christians in the workplace should seek profit, but they should also seek more than profit.
Imagine how much better the world would be if everyone lived this way? Work is a form of redemption in that our community benefits by the good work of it’s citizens. But when we are selfish, everyone suffers.
3. STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN THRIVING PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONAL LIFE
We can indeed have a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Jesus said this:
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26)
There is a myth that to be truly successful you have to sacrifice your family. Tim Kimmel, in his book “Little House on the Freeway” quotes a Wall Street executive who said
“Don’t let anything get in the way of your success. If your family gets in the way, get a new family.”
Work can become an idol. If you see work as the end in itself it is drudgery.
I’ve never met anyone who came to the end of their life and said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at work…”. But I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I wish I had spent more time with my family” or some variation of that.
4. SEE WORK AS A MEANS TO AN END, NOT THE END ITSELF
Faith should be a ballast for work.
“Everyone is called…most of our calling is to do ‘whatever’” David Green
Brian’s testimony about college.
- I must clearly know my purpose for being in business
- Establish God honoring values that establish how we will behave
- Create a culture of people before profits…It’s about people!
- Business must be sustainable (profitable)- otherwise there is no platform
If we see work as THE thing that will make us happy or give us fulfillment and add to our live and give life meaning, work will become a slave master.
On the other hand, if we see our work as the means by which we serve the Lord and accomplish his purposes, work becomes a joy of worship.
Excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace all matter and are to be done as acts of worship — not just self interest
We must learn to model Christ-like servanthood in every situation. God has chosen us to be where we are and to influence others with our lives and words.
Not only must we be strong and do the work, we must be strong in our wholehearted devotion to him and remember whom we are working for! He is in control of every situation.
BIG IDEA: Each one of us have the same opportunity to be used by God to impact the world, whether we lead a multi-billion dollar company or work in a small business, whether we are head of a company or sweeping floors.
My job is to faithfully plant seeds, the Holy Spirit works the seeds day and night (Mark 4:26,27 ) and He produces fruit…sometimes 30, 60 and 100 fold.
"Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple but only God knows the number of apples in a seed". (Show demo)
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.'" (1 Chronicles 28:9-10).
- Why is it important to see work in the context of a bigger story of God’s redemption of earth?
- How do we honor Christ in our work?
- What is the purpose of work?
- Why is it important to see work as a means to an end, not the end itself?
- What are some ways you can be a better witness in your work?