As part of life and adulthood, having to work is inevitable. Apart from those who are not in a capacity to be involved in work, adulthood involves looking for a job and being engaged in work for the better part of life.
Having transitioned from campus into the workplace, this is a reality I have personally come to terms with and which has led me to re-think my perception of work.
Today, most of the people regard their work as something they wish they didn’t have to do. Consequently, it is no doubt that a dark cloud of dissatisfaction blankets today’s work force. For the vast majority, work is dull and meaningless.
Having struggled with lack of job satisfaction at times, I am fully cognizant of the fact that work can feel very dreary. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people end up in jobs they do not really enjoy mostly because they have to meet their needs.
While job satisfaction is important, the reality is that most people do not enjoy their work and might never do. This lack of satisfaction in work, as we are going to see later, comes as a result of the Fall and the consequent curse on work which we all have to experience, albeit in varying degrees.
This in turn often leads to discontent and a poor work ethic characterized by laziness. Thus, the average worker wastes a lot of time and very few employees give their best effort resulting in mediocre work.
As Christians, our work ethic needs to be informed by God’s word and effectively lived out in the work place. The most part of our lives, an average of eight hours every day for five or six days a week, is spent working. Therefore, how we work is very important and greatly matters to God who has charged us to do everything for the honor and glory of His name – 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Biblical Perspective of Work
The Bible begins with the creation account and we are immediately introduced to God the Creator as a worker. In Genesis 1, God creates the heavens and the earth and everything in them. At the end, He looks at everything He has made and remarks that it is very good.
Based on the fact that God Himself worked, we come to the understanding that work in and of itself, is good, dignified and godly. Additionally, we are told in Genesis 1:27, that God created man in His own image. This in turn compels us to understand that the image of God in man means that man is to be a worker.
When we think about this truth critically, we come to the realization that it has a very great implication because it means that the way we work will reveal how much we have allowed the image of God to develop in us.
A further observation which is of great importance is that work was given to man before the Fall. In Genesis 2:15, we are told that, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” From this, we come to the inescapable conclusion that work is good and God ordained.
Work Under a Curse
In Genesis 3, we read of the Fall of man in the garden of Eden which led to work being put under a curse. The curse made nature uncooperative, so that work became painful toil and man had to sweat for a living. This explains why we wish we didn’t have to work. More often than not, we feel that work is dull and meaningless.
Today, our working conditions vary. Some sweat more than others and some enjoy their work more than others. However, at the end of the day the curse is still in effect and even those who seem to enjoy their work still experience the effects of the curse in one way or the other.
Some of the ways in which this manifests itself is when there is a lot of work to be done and there is a lot of pressure and deadlines to be met. Just as the old adage that says that too much of anything is harmful, even work that one enjoys doing can become burdensome in such conditions.
Because of the varying work conditions, we may be in a better position than others in terms of our work. Also, others may be at a better position than us. However, the norm for everyone is that work is a painful toil.
In addition to this, we ought to learn from examples in the Bible which remind us that work cannot truly satisfy no matter how enjoyable or rewarding it may be. The writer of Ecclesiastes acquired all he desired and came to the conclusion that everything under the sun is meaningless and a chasing after the wind. We would be fools not to learn from such examples.
We should be wary not to make work the central point of our lives. Many have fallen into this trap and ended up being consumed by their work. While laziness is unbiblical, overworking on the other hand produces workaholics who find their identity in their work, which is idolatry in God’s eyes.
Therefore, even work ought to be put in its rightful place in our lives and we need to strike a balance between being slothful and lazy on one extreme and workaholics on the other extreme. Both do not subscribe to a Biblical perspective of work and do not glorify God.
Work that Glorifies God
If we really want to glorify God through our work, we need to be careful to strike a godly balance between laziness on one hand and overworking on the other hand. We should adopt a Biblical view towards work which makes God the center of the equation. God does not remove the curse and its painful toil, but He does replace the meaninglessness.
Both the Old and New testament are very clear when it comes to how our work ought to be. Scripture is replete with verses that directly confront our work ethic as believers.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we are reminded that everything we do ought to be done for the glory of God. Similarly, Colossians 3:17 tells us: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Further on, in verse 23, we are charged that in everything we do, we should work at it with all our heart, as working for the Lord and not for men. Here, we are reminded that ultimately, we are not working for our bosses and those above us, but God Himself. Therefore, our work ought to be done bearing in mind that ultimately, God is watching us.
Therefore, being aware that God is always watching us, we ought to always work with enthusiasm, with energy, with diligence and with excellence. This will undoubtedly make a huge difference and leave a mark, all for God’s glory. This is the kind of work that glorifies God – work that is done with the right heart attitude.
Biblically, there are no first class and second-class Christians because of their varying jobs. In God’s eyes, the distinction we have made between sacred and secular vocations does not exist. Rather, all honest work done for the Lord is sacred, be it selling groceries, photography, teaching, trimming the fence, painting, online work or any other legitimate job that exists.
While the painful truth remains that there are times when work will feel like painful toil and yield little job satisfaction, we should always bear in mind that our work matters to God and should be done for His glory.
Everything about our work must be directed toward God – our attitudes, our integrity and even our skills. We ought to work diligently, with enthusiasm, with energy and with excellence.
In conclusion, it is my hope that your perspective of work will be informed by God’s word and that you will make an assessment of your life by asking yourself the following questions: Do I do my work for the glory of God? Do I honestly work hard? Do I work with enthusiasm? Do I do excellent work?