The believer’s standards
Believers need to have higher standards in the work-force because we are ambassadors of Christ who represent Him and His kingdom through the message we proclaim through our lifestyle and behavior. Believers need to work hard and do their best in everything they do. Now, this doesn’t mean we will be the best in our respective positions because some people are just naturally better at some things than others. Everyone has different general abilities. Additionally, we should never try to pretend we are something that we are not.
For example, if we aren’t qualified or cut out for a specific job, trying to act like it is a good fit is only a waste of time and self-deception. And even if we are good at something, that doesn’t mean we are the “best” in that company per se. And we must never compete or compare with our fellow employees. It is one thing to motivate oneself to do better to work harder and more successfully. It is a whole other thing to work to outperform our fellow workers. Self-motivation is a good thing as long as we do it with the correct motives. Our attitude is so crucial in this whole process.
Patience, humility, accountability, and qualification
Many people in this world struggle with impatience. So many individuals (especially those from the younger crowd) jump into a starting-level position only to want to move up almost immediately for something they are not ready or qualified to do. The work ethic of so many young people of the younger generations is quite deplorable these days. So many younger people (however far you want to carry that word) come into a “bottom of the totem pole” position only to perform poorly in it. Despite this, they think they are ready for anything when they can’t even be entrusted with a little. Whoever can be charged with a little can be entrusted with a lot (Luke 16:10). There exists a sense of entitlement where these individuals expect everything to be handed to them on a platter. But that is not how it works in the real world. We must work for (earn) our way to the top. Everyone needs to prove themselves and take their turn. Many carry the attitude that the lesser jobs (cleaning and other basic manual labor positions as an example) are “easy” and not that important. Therefore, why put in the effort? But if they weren’t necessary, then they wouldn’t exist. Yet, someone has to do the dirty work. All jobs need filling. Work is work, no matter how you look at it.
Additionally, Jesus stated a principle through Luke 14:7-11 by saying that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted. Many young people (perhaps even some older folks in fewer cases) don’t want to climb the ladder but would rather go right to the top from the get-go. There is nothing to suggest this hasn’t worked for at least some (it has), but is has caused a host of problems and issues for many people and companies. People either jump into something they aren’t ready for or don’t even make it past the starting position at a job because they got fired due to laziness and poor worth ethic. So many want to take the best seat for themselves without earning it due to a feeling of entitlement. However, many people who go this route don’t end up being very successful when they take this misguided approach. So many people want to exalt themselves only to end up in a more humble place later on.
We, as Christ’s ambassadors are accountable to the ultimate boss! So why would we fail to work hard? How could we ever choose to be lazy? And we must never make excuses when we don’t have any, especially as believers! We may fool our supervisor, manager, or boss, but we aren’t fooling God, who sees everything we think, say, and do (Hebrews 4:13). If we want to get promoted, we need to wait on God’s timing (Isaiah 40:31).
The advantages and downsides to being a hard worker
And, of course, there is no guarantee that our coworkers or boss won’t mistreat us. It is not uncommon for the hardest workers to suffer unfair treatment and even persecution to some degree. Maybe it is because we are believers who do our job as we should, which is why many people may look at us with contempt? Hard workers often expose the slackers by separating themselves through the amount of work and effort they put in. No person likes to have themselves exposed by others for multiple reasons, whatever they may be in any particular case. Believers who work hard will often reveal the dishonest, lazy, rude, and inconsiderate behavior of others, just as how the light exposes the darkness and the evil deeds of men (Ephesians 5:13; John 3:19-20). For this very reason, our fellow employees may come to dislike us even more and try to trap us or get us to compromise and mimic their behavior to relieve their guilt (John 15:18-25). However, these are only possibilities and we should never take them too far. Some people may indeed accuse us of being “goodie two shoes” because we may carry a martyr’s mentality (or perhaps not), something we should never do. The truth still stands that we must bear our crosses (Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:38). We will occasionally suffer and experience unfair and improper treatment. But if that is the Lord’s will for us to endure, we must bear it with the proper attitude.
On the other hand, some people (assuming they are poor workers) may like it that we work hard to take advantage of the situation and do less work. Times will arise when we need to say something to our boss or supervisor if everyone keeps dumping the work on us. It is our right and duty to report any kind of improper behavior to those who work over us. And if they don’t listen, then we will just have to endure whatever we have to for however long the Lord allows. We can always get another job, although we should pray about that first. And if someone is talking to us as they shouldn’t, we have a right to defend ourselves and answer back in the proper way of love (Ephesians 4:15).
With the above said, there is still something else we must consider here. The hardest workers may be required to do more work because “to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). There may be times when we feel it is unfair that our supervisor allows others to get away with doing less work than us. But we can view that as a compliment (depending). The best workers are the most dependent so that those in charge will call them to step up to the plate more often. A supervisor may think to themself, “You are the best I have and about all I’ve got. You are a great worker and, therefore, valuable to me. I don’t want to lose you but would rather see you promoted in the future because of your hard work. Keep it up! Since I can depend on you, I can assign multiple and more difficult tasks that you have shown you can handle.” However, it is also equally true that companies can exploit and take advantage of the situation by working someone to death while not giving them something they may rightfully deserve (such as a raise or higher position). In one way, it is a compliment to receive more work, and even better if it rewarded with something else other than more labor (mental or physical). But it can also be a curse if someone has to work harder but receives next to nothing for it. Undergoing these types of stressful circumstances can be a test the Lord allows us to endure for however long a time. When or if to move on will eventually become clear to us if we would but wait on the Lord.
Believers need to have good attitudes at work, even when coping through difficult times and circumstances
Backtracking to what we talked about regarding attitude, this is another area of our walk we need to be careful handling. If we approach work with a wrong mentality, our work ethic will most likely plummet, and our performance will suffer. We have already discussed that above. What we need to stress here is the fact that being a hard worker doesn’t guarantee we are doing it with the proper attitude and motivation. What if we are trying to please men? What if we care more about what others think instead of God? That will only lead to problems.
Additionally, we can be the hardest workers all we want while still not handling our circumstances at work in a biblical way. Anger, strife, bitterness, resentment, impatience, malice, slander, gossip, unkindness, dishonesty, and the like do not make for a good Christian testimony. Regarding how we should be in the workforce, we don’t need to look any further than Galatians 5:22-23.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Like the old hymn of the faith goes, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” If we don’t have love (the most important spiritual fruit and Christian virtue), we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2; 13:13). Without it, nothing else we do matters. Therefore, we must remember to love our fellow workers and those above us (that doesn’t mean we have to like them), even if they don’t treat us as we may want them to (Romans 12:14; Luke 6:28). If someone “slaps us on the cheek,” then we should turn the other (Matthew 5:38-40). Of course, that doesn’t mean we allow people to exploit and take advantage of us, but the point should be understood.
Angry people only create more angry people, which is why Scripture tells us that it is not good to be around a mad man (assuming we can help it) (Proverbs 22:24). Getting angry with people will only turn them to anger which is why Scripture exhorts us not to provoke our children to wrath (all people in general) (Ephesians 6:4). Patient and longsuffering answers turn away anger (Proverbs 15:1).
We should never make it our business to become busybodies sticking our noses into other people’s affairs just to slander them behind their backs. We need to make sure that we are doing what we are supposed to do and to do so without hypocrisy. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 states, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands.” Constantly worrying about others can’t help but negatively affect us in the end.
To shift gears here, slothful behavior only leads to failure (Proverbs 19:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Speaking of that topic, some won’t even work for themselves or others. This lifestyle is far worse than laziness, especially if one does not provide for their family and relatives if needs be (1 Timothy 5:8). A person who doesn’t help themself thinks only of themself because it means they refuse to help others, a sin the same as denying the faith.
Those who allow the peace of God to rule in their hearts will be peaceful with others (Colossians 3:15), and that means they will not hold any bitterness or resentment toward their fellow teammates (even if we don’t like much of what they do which may require us to saying something eventually). The safest route we can take is forgiveness through forbearance because failing to do so will result in God not forgiving us (Matthew 6:15). And self-control will result in all things good, including ridding ourselves of any misplaced discontent and grumbling.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
Everything we have written above should instill in every one of us the principle to give our best in everything we do. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the job, we need to demonstrate a good work ethic, determination, and care for the task we have assigned to us by our “higher-ups.” Other people will notice and possibly even promote us to higher (hopefully better paying) positions if we do this. We don’t work for men as much as we do for God (Colossians 3:23-24). Therefore, what kind of testimony does a lazy Christian give to the unbelieving world?
And let us not forget that we can all minister to people no matter where we are. Many believers don’t have the gift of evangelism, yet we must all share the gospel if and when the opportunity presents itself. If we work with other believers, then those are great opportunities to encourage, exhort, and strengthen them through the truth. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) which means that there may well be some (if not many) benefits we can receive through fellowship with other believers at work. Work can present challenges in this area because we are there to do physical and/or mental labor of some kind. So we may only have a few small pockets of time to speak with others for ministry’s sake. But if opportunities come, then they can be chances for us to do something (not that we have to force anything per se). None of this means we go hunting for chances to help to the neglect of our duties. Instead, if the Lord intends for something to happen, then He will make those opportunities possible.