A philosophy and theology of work
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Whatever work comes your way to do, do it with all your strength — because you will eventually die and there is no work in the grave. — Ecclesiastes 9:10, paraphrase
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. — Colossians 3:23-24, CSB
Every job I have ever had I have both enjoyed and not enjoyed. I have both liked and not liked it.
I could always try to be positive and find something to be satisfied with or proud of with my work. If I let myself, I could also be negative and find something to complain about or be aggravated with. A lot of it is just the way you look at it.
My philosophy of work is that if I am able to do something and it will benefit others, I should do it. If I’m going to do it, I should try to do my best at it.
My theology of work is that if I am working I should act as if Jesus Himself is my boss — how would I do this job if I were working directly for Him? Would I put in a feeble effort? Would I not show up, or skip out on my responsibilities, etc.?
I can honestly tell you, it’s the way I find joy in my workday responsibilities.
When I was a full-time Christian minister, I enjoyed the studying, talking with other people (believers and non-believers alike), teaching and preaching, and trying to help others with their beliefs and actions. I did not enjoy the conflicts that inevitably came when someone didn’t like the way I said something, or that they were not the first person I visited that week, or preached too long/too short, too excitedly/boring, etc.
When I sold building materials to contractors for a national company, I enjoyed the interaction with my clients, helping them get what they needed in a timely manner, at the best prices I could get them, and in a way that they’d want to keep doing business with me. I did not enjoy interacting with people who felt they were “owed something” because they had spent a certain amount of money with the company, or because they “knew the manager” or because they thought you were beneath them because you sold materials and they sold houses, etc.
As a journalist and editor, I enjoy getting to tell people’s stories — the good, the bad, the interesting — especially if it’s good news. I take pains to tell the truth, and to tell it in a way that is interesting to the reader. And the things I don’t like are the everyday frustrations of working on tight deadlines, and dealing with people who are just like the people I mentioned already.
But the good news is I am alive, and can work, so I should. I was made for it. And whatever I’m working at, I need to do it with a clear conscience and dedication to God to be honest, helpful and kind. If I was only working for “people,” I don’t know if I could do it. But working “for the Lord” helps me get it done.
I can look forward to knowing my work was done to the best of my ability, and that I can rest when it is over. God commanded people to take periodic rests, and to trust in Him for rest in our minds and spirits, not just our bodies.
I believe it is a good, godly thing to work hard, play hard and rest well. If my heart is tuned into God’s, those things will never disappoint Him.
Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.