Like it or not, most of us have to work for a living.
Whether this means a full-time job, being an entrepreneur, or having a side hustle, we spend a good deal of our time earning a paycheck. There’s a reason why Working For the Weekend was a hit song.
This is true for Christians and nonbelievers alike.
All of us have bills to pay. Most of us have a boss to keep happy. But there is still a difference between the work of Jesus followers and everyone else. Not because we’re any better or more blessed, but because we have the gospel.
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The word of God makes a difference in the work we do. Whether or not we work in the church or faith-based organizations, the Bible should influence the shape and trajectory of our careers. And here’s just a few reasons why.
#1. The gospel changes why we work
More than anything else, scriptures about work help us to define the reason why we work. Living a life for Christ means our professional life should be about more than just collecting a salary. Working is about more than a job title or the company who employs us.
Jesus’ life reminds us that life is more than a job. Our life is about glorifying God and loving one another. As such, our careers should be an extension of that. It’s not always easy to do, but as much as possible, we should seek to serve God and other people through our work.
When you adopt this perspective, it can radically change the work you do. Even if you don’t love your job, you can still be hopeful because your life is much more than work. The gospel changes the reason why we get up and go to the office every weekday.
#2. The gospel changes what job we choose
If the gospel influences why we work, it should naturally influence the jobs we pick.
That’s not to say that we must all choose Christian-related jobs. All of us can’t work for a church, or at a nonprofit, or as an international missionary. It’s perfectly OK for there to be Christians employed as accountants, chefs, and racecar drivers.
However, your faith should still play a role in determining your career path. Ask yourself why you think God is leading you in a specific direction. Pray before accepting a job. Discuss career changes with people you trust. Don’t make your livelihood doing anything immoral.
Sometimes it’s not always going to be obvious what professional industry you should be in. But knowing what the Bible says about making decisions can make a difference in the jobs you take. We spend so much time at work—it should be a place that brings us closer to God, not drive us further away from him.
#3. The gospel changes who we work with
Occasionally, it’s pretty apparent the companies or people we shouldn’t work with. That doesn’t mean we should only work with other Christians. That would be shortsighted and limiting.
But there are times that coworkers or work environments are detrimental to our faith and our career. Maybe it’s the group of colleagues who continually pressure you drink too much at after-work functions. Perhaps it’s the business client that fudges their financial paperwork. Maybe it’s the CEO who insists you worship him as your deity (hopefully that one’s a joke).
As Christians, we should expect ourselves and those we work with to have certain standards. We can still work with people who don’t share our exact faith and values, but not to the point that it makes us compromise what we believe or who we are.
#4. The gospel changes our workplace values
Plenty of workplaces are competitive. It takes hard work and long hours to climb the corporate ladder. Some of the people we work with would do anything to get ahead—to earn that raise or promotion. Working for Christ means that there are some lines we shouldn’t cross at a job.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean our work can’t be excellent. In fact, we should always hold ourselves to high-performance standards. But we should also hold ourselves to higher moral standards. It’s not worth lying or cheating our way to a bigger paycheck because we lose ourselves in the process.
One of the best ways you can elevate being a Christian in a secular work environment is to be the most ethical and trustworthy person in the building. When your coworkers see that your values come from your faith, they’ll learn to respect both.
#5. The gospel changes our work-life balance
The Bible can help show us where and how to work. It can also teach us when not to work.
Even if a true work-life balance is a myth, we can still manage to have a healthy margin between our personal and professional lives. If we give too much of our time to the job, there won’t be enough left for God.
Rest is a biblical principle practiced by God himself. However, the fourth commandment (“keep the sabbath day holy”) is the only one Christians brag about breaking. This doesn’t just mean working on Sunday. It means allowing work to creep into any place you should reserve for your family, God, or self-care. Set clear boundaries for your work and hold yourself accountable.
Don’t check email on the weekends. Stop answering phone calls from your boss at 2 a.m. Disconnect from social media during meals. Don’t pack your laptop when leaving on vacation. Prioritize your family over work. These simple steps will help you to keep work at work, and honor the sanctity of rest.
#6. The gospel changes how we lead at work
Some of us are lucky enough to become leaders in our professional lives—CEO, director, or manager. Even if we don’t have a leadership title, we can all take on a leadership role at work. Having a leadership role comes with the responsibility to lead well.
Thankfully, we have the example of a great leader to learn from. Jesus was an outstanding leader of men in his own professional life. He led with empathy, compassion, and wisdom. These are smart traits to adopt in your leadership style. Ask yourself—how would Jesus lead?
Learn how to listen to the people around you. Lead by example to avoid the pitfall of hypocrisy. Clearly communicate expectations. Build trust through relationships with coworkers. Being an effective leader at work gives you the opportunity to show the love of God to others.
Over to you
As believers, we have the opportunity to make an impact with our faith and our work. God’s word through the gospel should be a guiding light for both.
How does your faith impact the work you do? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.