“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24 (NAS)
It seems Paul in his writings lifts work to an even greater significance than seen in the Old Testament. He did not accept support from those to whom he ministered, though according to I Corinthians 9:7-15, that would have been an acceptable option. Paul worked so that his ministry was voluntary and the gospel he preached was offered free, without charge to anyone. I believe he worked to set an example to the churches, believers and even unbelievers. An example I refer to as excellence in the workplace or a moral work ethic or integrity of the heart.
As believers, we are expected to model excellence in our personal lives and at work. We hear more about being Christ-like in our personal lives, but what is excellence in the workplace? It is not idleness, complacency or apathy, for sure. Excellence in the workplace begins with our relationship with God and in our love for him as we choose daily to obey his word in all things at work. Secondly, we need to remember we work as “unto the Lord” meaning to serve him, please him and obey him. I could write a book on the topic of this article because I believe Christians in the workplace have a great potential to change every fiber of the workplace, from promoting integrity in administrative decisions to building solid collaborative teams. Just our presence in the workplace should draw unbelievers to Christ. The world, more than ever before, needs to see integrity, moral work ethics and dignity and respect for supervisors, employers and colleagues in action in both secular and non-secular workplaces. Few have seen such excellence in the workplace. I hear employers complain about the lack of excellence in character and ethics especially with our youth, the Millennials and Generation X.
God has called each of us to different careers. He has entrusted to us work-related gifts, skills, education and passion to fulfill our purpose in our career. Sometimes I am stunned when some perceive work as just a job to earn money. Wherever we work, whatever our career, it is ministry. Our real boss is God, and our work, whether a professional career, a part-time job or a volunteer position, is ministry—marketplace ministry. Not everyone is called to serve in a church. God needs us, his people, to be everywhere serving others, not ourselves, our excellent character and ethics illuminating the beauty of Christ to others.
Ironically, as I was writing this, an article in the July 6 issue of The Business Journal captured my attention. “Fresno Ranks Low for Work Ethic” places Fresno among the Bottom 10 cities in the nation, according to a study conducted by Wallethub, in February 2018. We need to rise above mediocrity in our vocation/career as faithful stewards to God’s call for excellence. Our work is a platform for ministry and witness.