Sometimes it seems like our relationship with God stays in a very small, neat, church-shaped box. Sure, we might bring Him home to our family, and maybe into our friendships on a good day. But what about work? What does it look like to have Christian faith in the workplace, and how can our faith tie in to our jobs every day? Let’s take a look at three ways our faith relates to our work.
A Strong Ethical Guide
One of the main ways faith in the workplace can be important is by giving us a firmly-grounded sense of ethics. But what, exactly, does “ethical” mean? Plenty of people practice what is known as “good morals,” but what are these morals based on? Without God, what’s the standard for good and bad?
Much of the lack of transparency and lack of integrity we witness in the workplace today is the result of a disagreement about what is right and wrong. People have different standards for behavior and varying senses of goodness, and so one person’s actions don’t always measure up to another person’s ethical standards. But believers in the workplace do have a strong standard for their moral compass, and could make a huge difference simply by living according to that standard.
Are we preaching legalism? No. Christians will never get it right; we are broken and sinful, just like everybody else. And we know that “the law” — which commands us to be perfect — is simply a tool to help us recognize our imperfection and drive us to the feet of Jesus, who has fulfilled the law for us.
The difference comes in our values, our character, and our transparency. Are we humble? Honorable? Responsible? Our coworkers will notice. And when we fail to be those things, as we certainly will from time to time, do we repent? Ask forgiveness? They’ll notice this too, maybe more than anything else. A repentant heart can turn a hostile work environment into something beautiful — even something Christlike.
A Deeply-Rooted Identity
Have you ever met someone whose identity was in their job? There’s a certain heartbreaking quality to their life — they live in constant fear of losing that job, and because of that fear, they are never secure enough to step out and really be who they were made to be.
When your identity is in Christ, your career takes on a different meaning. Sure, you may enjoy your job and want to excel at it. But a career was never meant to harbour your entire identity. If we truly desire peace, especially when it comes to our work environment, we must remember that our value doesn’t lie in our job titles, our promotions (or lack thereof), or our paychecks.
As Christians, our identity lies in something unshakeable. Something that can literally never be brought down and will never, ever change. Christ is the same, now and always, and He has adopted us as sons and daughters into His family. When that’s where you find your value, everything else sort of fades into the background.
Work Is a Sacred Act
Why doesn’t God just feed us directly instead of giving us food via farming and animals? Why doesn’t He just give us clothes without someone having to make them first? Why doesn’t He just make our houses appear out of thin air instead of having someone build them?
Because work is dignified and good, and He gives it to us so that we can be a part of His story. We can be the hands that farm, sew, and build. And because of that, every honorable job — from the most admired to the most menial — is sacred work.
When we do well at our work, we glorify God. This doesn’t mean we obsess over our jobs to the point that they have become our god; rather, it means we work responsibly and thoroughly, building something beautiful that makes the world a better place. After all, if the pilot of your airplane tells you about Jesus but doesn’t know how to fly a plane, she is not meeting your need of flying the plane for you. We could stand around and talk about Jesus all day, but until we begin to work, until we begin to better the world around us, that’s all it is — just talk.
Read through the gospels and ask yourself how many times Jesus was “all talk” and no work. (Hint: He went straight from carpentry into healing, preaching, and casting out demons.) If work wasn’t valuable to Him, He wouldn’t have bothered to do so much of it.
What About You?
Where do you stand on faith in the workplace? Is your relationship with God a wholly separate thing, something you dust off on Sunday mornings and then pack away again before “real life” begins for the week?
You don’t have to walk around your office asking your coworkers where they would go if they died tonight — in fact, that’s probably a pretty fast way to shut them down to you completely. But you can show them Christ by the way you do your work: thoroughly, with a humble heart whose identity is rooted in God’s love.