The Christian at work (Part 4)

3 09 2008

How would you rate your job satisfaction? Do you enjoy going to work each day? Are you content with your position? Complaining and grumbling in the workplace has increased dramatically in recent years. In a survey of 5,000 households by the Conference Board, less than half of the respondents described themselves as satisfied with their jobs. In a web opinion survey by Monster.com, 57% responded that they feel overworked, and 83% said they are not satisfied with their jobs. Most of those who reported discontentment in the workplace blamed management for their sense of dissatisfaction. Sadly, most surveys of Christian workers produce results that mirror those of non-Christians. This points us to the fourth principle that should guide the attitudes and actions of the Christian in the workplace: the principle of consecration.

Rejoice in the privilege of serving God

The believer is called to do his work “unto the Lord and not unto men.” This focus on serving God in one’s daily calling should have a marked effect on a Christian employee’s attitude and demeanor. Understanding and resting in God’s providence enables the believer to bear up under difficulties, while seeking opportunities to bring glory to Christ through diligence and cheerfulness even in the face of petty annoyances. Simple and consistent obedience to the commandments of God will be a powerful witness in the workplace. If your speech and behavior are consistent with godliness, you will avoid many common pitfalls that create workplace tension and ruin the witness of the believer to his Savior. Spurgeon begins his discussion of this aspect of faith’s impact on vocation by stating:

Faith exercises a power over a man’s life of a remarkable kind because it leads him to serve God in his daily calling. Never is life more ennobled than when we do all things as unto God. This makes drudgery sublime, and links the poorest menial with the brightest angel. Seraphs serve God in heaven, and you and I may serve him in the pulpit or in the kitchen, and be as accepted as they are. Brethren, Christian men are helped by faith to serve God in their calling by obedience to God’s commands, by endeavouring to order everything according to the rules of love to God and love to men. In such a case integrity and uprightness preserve the man, and his business becomes true worship. Though there be no straining after eccentric unworldliness and superstitious singularity, yet in doing that which is right and just, the common tradesman is separated unto the service of the Lord. Jesus says, ‘If any man serve me let him follow me,’ as much as to say that obedience to the divine command is the true mode of showing love to Jesus. If thou wishest to do something great for God, be greatly careful to obey his commands: for ‘to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams.'”

Determine to manifest the spirit of Christ

Part of my son’s first semester freshman experience in college involves participating in a work study program. He was assigned to the janitorial crew and given the task of cleaning the bathrooms in the dormitories. I have marveled at the grace that he has shown as he has humbly determined to “scrub toilets as unto the Lord.” Such an approach to work can only come by the transforming grace of Christ, who willingly humbled Himself and took the place of a servant. It is possible to perform one’s daily tasks with diligence and precision, while manifesting a haughty or condescending attitude. But the true beauty of the testimony of Christ in the workplace is diligence joined with genuine humility of spirit – a concern for excellence, even in the smallest and most demeaning tasks, because God’s glory is magnified through the behavior of His children. Spurgeon writes:  

Godly men exercise faith in God in their callings by trying to manifest a Christian spirit in all that they do. The spirit which actuates us may seem to be a small matter so long as we are outwardly right; but it is in reality the essence of the whole thing. Take away the flavour from the fruit, or the fragrance from the flower, and what is left? Such is correct living without the savour of grace. The same thing can be done in several ways: you can do a right thing in so wrong a way as to make it wrong. Even in giving to the poor, a churl will trample upon their feelings in the very act of his charity; while I have known others who have been unable to give who, nevertheless, have expressed their inability in so kindly a form that they have comforted the disappointed applicant. Oh, to act in your trade and your calling as Christ would have acted had he been in your place. Hang that question up in your houses, ‘What would Jesus do?’ and then think of another, ‘How would Jesus do it?’ for what he would do, and how he would do it, may always stand as the best guide to us. Thus faith puts a man upon serving God by leading him to exhibit the spirit of Christ in what he ordinarily does, showing all courtesy, gentleness, forbearance, charity, and grace.”

Purpose to serve God in your labors today

The concept of serving God in one’s vocation may at times seem overwhelming. The key to success in this endeavor is to do it one day at a time. Last night I caught the final set of the U.S. Open tennis match between Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzales. Roddick won in straight sets to advance to the quarter finals. In the interview after the match, Andy was asked about his hopes going forward. He responded that he has tried to approach the tournament “one point at a time.” This is the approach of every great champion, and it is also the best way to ensure success as you seek to honor God in your vocation. Purpose in your heart that you will glorify God today in the performance of your duties, in your interactions with co-workers, superiors, employees and customers. Pray for grace to enable you to exalt your Savior from your first interaction to your final transaction of the day. As you encounter each challenge to your contentment, pray again for God to glorify Himself through your response, and remind yourself that you represent Him and that your reactions will either honor Him or dishonor Him in the eyes of men. And be thankful, today, for the grand privilege of carrying the testimony of Jesus into your place of business. We’ll give Spurgeon the last word:

Furthermore, in all that we do, we should be aiming at God’s glory. We should do everything as unto God, and not unto men. There would be no eye-service if we left off being men-pleasers and began to please God. Neither would there be impatience under injustice; for if men do not accept our service when we have done it with all our hearts, we shall comfort ourselves with the reflection that our Master in heaven knows how little we deserve the unrighteous censure. To live as kings and priests unto God is the cream of living. Then will you be the Lord’s free men. Serve God in serving men, and serve men by serving God: there is a way of working out those two sentences even to the full, and thus rendering life sublime. May God the Holy Spirit teach us to do this. If we really live to serve God we shall live intensely day by day, allowing no time to waste. Sophie Cook sought Mr. Wesley’s counsel as to what she should do in life, and he answered, ‘Live to-day’: a very short direction, but one that is full of wisdom. ‘Live to-day,’ and tomorrow you may do the same. Plans for the whole term of life many of you may not be able to construct, but mind that you work while it is called to-day. ‘Son, go work to-day in my vineyard’ is the great Father’s word. How would a man live if he felt that he was specially to live for God this day? Suppose that to-day there was a vow upon you, or some other bond, by which you felt that this whole day was solemnly consecrated to the Lord; how would you behave yourself? So ought you to behave this day, and every day; for you belong wholly to him who loved you, and gave himself for you. Let the love of Christ constrain us in this matter: let us put on the yoke of Christ, and feel at once that we are his blood-bought possession, and his servants for ever, because by faith he has become ours and we are his. We ought to live as Christ’s men in every little as well as in every great matter; whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we should do all to the glory of God, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Christ Jesus. Thus, you see, faith in him who gave himself for us leads us to spend our energies in his service, and to do our ordinary work with an eye to his glory, and so our life is coloured and savoured by our faith in the Son of God.”

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