06 Sep 5 Ways Faith Shapes Our Work
1. “Faith gives you an inner ballast without which work could destroy you.
If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts. Christian faith gives you a new identity, without which work can sink you.
“The gospel helps Christians find their deepest identity not in our accomplishments but who we are in Christ. This keeps our egos from inflating too much during seasons of prosperity, and it prevents bitterness and despondency during times of adversity. But while some jobs seduce us into over-work and anxiety, others tempt us to surrender to drudgery, only “working for the weekend,” doing just what is necessary to get by when someone is watching. Paul calls that “eye-service” (Colossians 3:22–24) and charges us to think of every job as working for God, who sees everything and loves us. That makes high-pressure jobs bearable and even the most modest work meaningful.” – Tim Keller
Does your identity vacillate between pride and shame based on your numbers, your accolades from others? How are you tempted to take pride in your work & to steal glory away from God for the skills that he gave you? How are you tempted to feel shame when work is not working out well? Pray that God will give you assurance of his unconditional love for you as his sons and daughters created in his image to be representatives of his dignity. How can living your life based on sonship speak truth to those in your workplace who lack an anchor for their souls? Pray that you can be witness to God’s sufficiency in your life.
2. “Faith gives you a concept of the dignity and worth of all work, even simple work, without which work could bore you.”
Christian faith gives us a new conception of work as the means by which God loves and cares for his world through us. Martin Luther wrote that people who do the simplest kinds of work are “the fingers of God.” Because of this, doing our work well, or being the best at what we do, is one way to be Christian in our work.
“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better….If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” – Martin Luther King
How are you tempted to scale your value on the perceived value of your title, role and type of work vs. on the excellence of your work and the value that you add to others through your service to the team, company, customer, client, and world? Pray that God will give you the grace to be able to do everything for his glory and the benefit of others. Pray against the oppressiveness of perfectionism that prevents you from accepting the imperfections of your work and enslaves you to an unending cycle of labor vs. loving your work and those who you serve through your work.
3. “Faith gives you a moral compass without which work could corrupt you.”
Unless your work is grounded in and guided by a Christian moral framework, you will be prone to selfish and short-sighted decision-making that will eventually harm you in the long run, whether in customer/client relations, productivity, profitability, or otherwise.
“Much of the ruthlessness, the lack of transparency, and lack of integrity that characterizes the marketplace and many other professions today come because consensus on those moral intuitions has collapsed. But Christians working in those worlds do have solid ethical guidance and could address through personal example the values-vacuum that has now been recognized by so many.” – Tim Keller
How are you tempted to step on or over a coworker to get what you want vs. to add value to the team? How are you tempted to cut corners, elevate your numbers to make yourself look and feel good? Pray that you might live and work above reproach so that none can rightfully look at your work with suspicion because they see impure motives and shady practices. Pray that God will protect you from the corruption of heart that comes from following patterns of self- promotion vs. Christian patterns of Christ-like service.
4. “Faith gives you a world and life view that shapes the character of your work, without which work could master and use you.”
All well-done work that serves the good of human beings pleases God. He gave us work to benefit us and to benefit others at the same time. Being a Christian leads us to see our work not as merely a way to earn money, nor as primarily a means of personal advancement, but a truly a calling—to serve God and love our neighbor. Max De Pree says “Money is like breathing. You have to breath in order to live. But who in the world would want to live just to be able to breath?”
In business you need to make a profit, but who wants to exist just to make a profit?
Pray that your needs would be met as you meet the needs of others. Pray that you would find your happiness in the happiness of those you serve. Pray that God will protect you however, from falling into a trap of people pleasing that prevents you from healthy boundaries, from sabbath, and from self care.
5. “Faith gives you a sophisticated kind of hope, without which ultimately work frustrates you.”
If you entered the legal or criminal justice system hoping to bring about justice, health care to provide healing, or city planning to see city transformation, you will be frustrated by how little you can do to impact injustices, stop cancers, and improve cities. Yet, we know that God will bring about justice, end human suffering, and usher in a divine kingdom. Therefore, Christians can press forward in cultural transformation knowing that one day all will be fulfilled. “If you’re a city planner, there is a New Jerusalem,” Keller says. “If you’re a lawyer there will be a time of perfect righteousness and justice.” The way we view the not yet will inevitably impact the way we respond in the here and now.
Pray for God’s kingdom to come. Pray for His will to be done — on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for the hope that you need to persevere in your work even when it seems like you are barely making a dent in the problems that you are trying to solve.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24