All of us work in some way or another. It is part of being human. God actually blessed us with work when He placed Adam and Eve in the garden. It was their responsibility to “work it and watch over it”. It is a privilege to have work to do and a purpose for living on this earth. But, it doesn’t always feel like it. People are people and we can be difficult to work with sometimes!
I’m so thankful that I had an earthly father (and mother) who modeled a respect for work and an incredible work ethic even when things were tough. I was watching them as I grew up and could hardly wait to step into my first job. I saw the hard work and integrity that they put into their work and the joy and satisfaction that resulted. My Dad is going to be 85 years old this month and he still goes to his office and works every day! Way to go, Dad!
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, not for men.” I would like to break down this verse and comment on four important points to remember as we go about our work.
“Whatever you do…”
What do you do? What are your areas of work? Do you have responsibilities at home like laundry, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the yard, helping your neighbors? What about overseeing your belongings like your home, car, paying bills, making appointments, planning vacations? Do you have a family? That involves a spouse, kids, parents, siblings, extended family members and gatherings and so much more. And, your career involves even more responsibilities like time, more people, relationships, learning, and teaching. Think about all the areas of your life that require work or effort from you.
“work at it with all your heart…”
Whatever you do takes work. Literally from the soul work. Do it heartily, with all your heart, with your life, genuinely. If you want to do confident, valuable, impactful work, do it from your soul. Don’t rip off those you work for and with by only giving part of what you are capable of. Engage your work fully. Yes, take breaks. Yes, take care of your soul. But, put your full heart into it.
If your work environment is hostile or abusive or unsafe, then it might be time to take a good long look at what you need in your career work and see if it is time to move on.
“as for the Lord…”
How do you approach your areas of work as if working for the Lord? And, how do you continue to do these things with all your heart even if you don’t FEEL appreciated, noticed, heard, or paid handsomely? You can’t. You can hide it for a while, but not for long. You can only do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is exhausting to take on the burden of work that was meant to be empowered and carried by the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper.
This is your motive; your reason or purpose for working – as for the Lord. So, if your motive is to work as if working for the Lord, that should affect your way of thinking and your way of doing. It is hard to have a pattern of bad attitude at a job if you have truly surrendered your work to the Lord. Our ultimate goal is to imitate Christ’s servanthood.
“not for men.”
We’re not just working for human beings. Verse 24 goes on to say that “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Doing work this way elevates it. You might think you are just working for your kids, or your boss or a bunch of thankless people or your team, but no, you are not. Next time you start feeling anger or resentment or just plain exhaustion as a result of your work, remember that you are not doing this for men. You are doing it for Jesus.
Which one of these four points might you need to spend some time thinking about?
What are your areas of work? What have you not observed as work up to this point, but now you see it qualifies?
What area might you need to put your heart and soul into?
What work might you need to dedicate to the Lord and begin asking for the Holy Spirit’s help?
Where might you need to adjust your attitude from thinking you are working for men, to knowing that you are serving the Lord?