Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 16Friday, July 09, 2010
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: GOD SENDS YOU INTO THE WORK WORLD FOR MANY REASONS
What difference does it make if you think you're in the work world just to witness and to earn? Peer through the eyes of Lisa, a bank teller who has come from a church tradition in which evangelism trumps all. Unless she can share the gospel or her testimony with an unbeliever, Lisa believes she's wasting her time at work. But paging through the Four Spiritual Laws in her brief encounters with customers is out of the question.
As the days add up to years on the job, she feels spiritually useless in most of her best waking hours. If only she had gone to the mission field or become a church secretary. Then she could really serve the Lord in her work! Although Paul told Christian employees to do their work “wholeheartedly,” Lisa struggles to do her work even halfheartedly.
Suppose Lisa comes to understand the biblical concept of work. It unmasks and replaces the crippling tradition she has inherited. She now understands that God has sent her into that bank teller job for multiple reasons. Over the past seven weeks, these blogs have covered seven purposes of God in deploying his people into the world of work. Let's review them and relate each to Lisa and her job.
Reflecting God and his work. Lisa often deals with difficult customers ranging from rude to hostile. Through her smile, words, attitude, and actions, she can extend the unconditional love of God to each one. She can return blessing for cursing (I Pet. 3:9). She can handle the money in the till with such integrity, that her bank supervisor catches glimpses of God's character and his work.
Trusting God to use work-related stress to form Christ within. Like the other tellers, Lisa bears the brunt of irksome policies. But the new manager assigned to their branch refuses to listen to their concerns. Lisa, though, can thank God for her workplace troubles, knowing that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4).
Serving and being served by other believers at the bank. Out of the 23 people who work in her bank branch, Lisa knows of at least five who are seeking to follow Jesus. Once a week, Lisa joins some or all of them for lunch, where they share job-related concerns and pray for one another.
Making the good news appealing. Among the bank staff, Lisa is known as a Christian. As such, she works in ways that make the gospel attractive. She knows that other bank staffers send personal faxes over the bank's machine. But she submits to bank policy—even if no one is looking. When the manager speaks to her disrespectfully, Lisa refuses to engage in back-talk.
Helping care for what God created. Lisa now knows that her work at the bank contributes to mankind's God-given work of ruling over the earth (Gen. 2:26). Money, the subject of hundreds of Bible passages, is the medium of exchange used in getting much of that work done. So cashing payroll checks, opening new accounts, and recording deposits have now become meaningful in God's grand plan for the earth.
Sharing the gospel as opportunities occur. When another teller asked her how she keeps her cool when the boss loses his, Lisa pointed upward and said, “I get my strength from Him.” That prompted another question: “What do you mean?” Later Lisa explained over lunch and told how trusting Jesus had opened her to a new kind of self-control.
Earning money for living and giving. Last but not least, Lisa works to make money. From her paycheck, she buys groceries, rents an apartment, pays taxes to support God-established government, gives to her local church, and helps support a missionary in India.
With her new understanding, Lisa now has many reasons to get up and go back to work day after day. Her reasons contrast sharply with those of most co-workers. None of her reasons break bank rules. Best of all, she sees her work—which occupies such a large part of her week—as a major part of her full-time service for God. She can now live an undivided life, offering all of it to him as worship.