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Starting Work? Here’s 3 Must-have Attitudes

Written by Julian Panga, India

Julian grew up in India, went for higher studies to Melbourne, Australia and then stayed on for 12 years and worked in the Banking and Finance Industry there. At the same time, he also served as a church elder, missions trainer and Bible teacher in his local church. In 2014, he returned to India in response to God’s call and is currently involved in training Christian workers for effective ministry within the Indian context. He loves reading, listening to music and long country drives.

I’ve been down this road many times before. I did my postgraduate studies full-time and worked part-time as a lecturer in my university. Then the roles reversed and I worked full-time in banking and studied theology part-time. After that, I went from full-time work to full-time theological study and then back to full-time work.

Each time I made those transitions, the experiences were different and always beset with new and varied challenges. What I’ve observed in my own life and with others is that when we transition from study to work, we take certain attitudes, habits and behaviors with us into the workplace. Soon we find to our utter disappointment that those things don’t fit there. We realize that working life comes with a new and different set of challenges.

Some cope well—and hats off to them—but some others get disillusioned, discouraged and often give up. Others go to the other extreme and become ambitious and strive hard to be over-achievers. This leads to its own set of pitfalls such as neglect of family, poor health, undue stress, addictions, and a constant fear of failure.

So how do we handle this transition from studying to working? How can we develop that which is essential to handle these new challenges that come our way and how can we continue to remain a follower of Christ in the workplace or business world? I’ve listed three attitudes that are non-negotiables when handling such a transition.

 

1. Be Authentic

Proverbs 14:23 warns us against empty words: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty”. Pretense, in whatever shape or form, shows up eventually. Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” So, regardless of how you’ve aced that job interview by parroting responses to routine questions, or put up a masquerade at work pretending you’re someone you’re not, there comes a point where you will be found out for who you really are. Being authentic is important because that will keep us in good stead along life’s journey.

What does it mean to be authentic? Simply put, it means you don’t pretend to be someone else on the outside. Rather, you are truthful, honest and straightforward. Of course, this doesn’t mean you are insensitive to others around you; instead you exercise wisdom in all your dealings—and who better to teach you wisdom than God Himself?

In my own corporate experience as a senior project manager who regularly handled post-sales situations, I sometimes found myself in a tight spot. I knew that what had been sold to the customers by my predecessor was not the ideal product for them. So I had a choice to make: Do I just do my job and leave it as a problem for someone else to handle, or do I rectify the mistake and go the extra mile (often with lots of extra work involved) to provide something that will benefit the end customer?

To me, that decision came easily and naturally because I wanted to honor Christ, who had blessed me with that job, in the workplace. I also knew that by my actions, I was upholding the reputation of my employer. Whether those noble actions get you into the good books of your boss or not, always remember that we serve an “Audience of One” and your job is to please Him above everyone else. The Apostle Paul encourages us to do exactly that in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”.

 

2. Be Accountable

As a student, you are often accountable to no one but yourself. You can stay up late, wake up any time you like, turn up for classes if you feel like it or turn in your assignments late. In a student’s life, the constant temptation is to slack off in areas of accountability and responsibility.

But in the corporate or business world, accountability is pivotal. Workers are accountable to management, who in turn must answer to senior management, who are accountable to the Board and the Board to the investors. Even independent traders need to be accountable to their customers, the law, the government etc.

As we all know, being accountable doesn’t come easy. We often like to take things into our own hands. In fact, we may dislike or even detest anyone to whom we may have to give an account for what we do or how we do it.

Consider this: right from creation, when Adam and Eve turned their backs on God and sinned, they were held accountable for their actions. Bad decisions or actions have negative consequences, but we must find the courage to own up and set things right. We must strive to conduct ourselves in such a manner that we take responsibility for what we do. If we are accountable to someone, then we ought to respect them and their authority over us.

Much of the conflict that happens around us is down to our fallen human nature and our stubborn refusal to be accountable. Always remember that we are also accountable for our feelings, thoughts and actions to God, and so we conduct ourselves in a way that brings Him honor and glory.

 

3. Be Excellent

Going to work each day can be a drudgery for many. We struggle through it since there are bills to pay, loans to clear, family members to feed, elderly parents to care for and a myriad of other basic needs to be met. Regardless of what factors compel us to work, the attitudes that we take to work is what matters most. I find from personal experience that when I take a bad attitude to work, it affects me and everyone around me negatively. I tend to be harsh, negligent, arrogant or half-hearted at work.

But if I take a spirit of excellence into my work, with an intention to do my work to the best of my abilities for my employer and for the Kingdom of God, it just turns my day around. I am able to greet people with a genuine smile, talk to them from the heart, care for them and show my concern in practical ways. It brings a joy deep within me that positively affects everyone around me.

My personal motto has been that I want to do my very best at work, not because I get paid for it, but because by doing it, I am being faithful to God and also my employer. Such an attitude brings many blessings along my path but more than that, it gives me a chance to reflect the nature of God at my workplace. This then gives me unsolicited opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus in meaningful and practical ways.

It is often said, “Your life may be the only Bible that some people read”. In many workplaces where matters of faith are often not talked about or are seen as being intrusive, having an excellent spirit will speak for itself and give you favor among your peers and employers. Excellence begins deep down in our hearts with intentionality and purpose and works itself out through our thoughts, behaviors and actions.

We can be encouraged by God’s word in Titus 2:7-8 to do what is good, and show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech in our teaching so that those who oppose us will have nothing bad to say about us. Won’t that be a powerful and impactful testimony in the workplace?

 

Transitions are not easy, but with God at the center of your life and armed with the right attitudes, you can manage those transitions well and help others along the way too.

I Want a Comfortable Life—Anything Wrong?

Written by Julian Panga

Julian grew up in India and then lived in Australia for 12 years. While working in the Banking and Finance Industry in Melbourne, he also served as a church elder, missions trainer and bible teacher. In 2014, he returned to India in response to God’s calling and is currently involved in training Christian workers for effective ministry within the Indian context. He loves reading, listening to music and long country drives.

 

What is a comfortable life? Is it having just enough to live, a little bit more than enough, or much more than you need?

Over the years, the definition of a comfortable life has changed. To the older generation, putting food on the table, making both ends meet, and having a little bit of savings for a rainy day made for a comfortable life. To the current generation however, these are the bare necessities.

I remember the time my parents could only afford a motorbike—which most small families in India use for their daily commute. Some years back, I decided to buy them a small second-hand car with my savings. But they felt that the car was unnecessary, and saw it as a luxury they didn’t need. In their minds, savings were to be tucked away for something important. In my mind, however, the car was an absolute necessity.

This probably reflects the prevailing sentiment today. Nowadays, it is common or even necessary to get a bigger and better home or car, upgrade to the latest smartphone, or go on expensive holidays. If you walk down the streets of any metropolitan city in India (which has the world’s largest number of 10 to 24-year-olds), it’s common to hear people say, “I am a working adult, so I can afford a better lifestyle”, or “What is wrong with enjoying a comfortable life? It’s a personal choice and doesn’t hurt anybody”. Indian youth, along with young people all over the world, are adopting a lifestyle of more—more money, more comfort, and more luxury.

In my observation however, the ones who do have more than they need have never appeared genuinely happy. On the other hand, those who seemingly have less—such as the family of six with meagre belongings squeezed into a rundown shack in a Johannesburg slum, or the family of five struggling to get their next meal, in a 10-by-10-foot hut in an urban slum in Bangalore, India—have bigger smiles and hearts than those who have plenty. That, to me, reinforces the fact that riches and comforts can never buy true happiness.

That said, this observation hardly deter us—even Christians—from seeking more in life. So, it begs the question: Is there anything wrong with desiring a comfortable life?

To answer this question, I’d like to reflect on these five aspects of life:

 

1. Our Dependency

Let’s start by looking at two popular understandings of a comfortable life: one with just the bare essentials and one with excessive luxuries. While the Bible does not have anything against us seeking the basic essentials of life like food, clothing and shelter, it is worthwhile to note that Jesus tells us not to worry even about these things, since the Father knows that we need them and will give them to us if we only ask (Matthew 6:25-34, 7:7-11). The Lord’s Prayer puts it aptly: Give us today our daily bread. The lesson here is to depend on God and Him alone for our daily needs.

What the Bible does condemn, however, is the love of money and the pursuit of riches. An inordinate desire for luxurious living can drive a person to pursue riches at any cost. This obsession can have dire implications, as Jesus spoke about the ease with which a camel can go through the eye of a needle compared to a rich man entering God’s kingdom (Luke 18:24-25).

If getting comfortable means we rely on ourselves more than God and causes pride, ego and self-sufficiency to grow, then we ought to steer clear of it. Having a comfortable life, however, is not sinful per se. What matters is whether we channel our riches for the benefit of others rather than ourselves. For when we do that intentionally, we truly show our dependence upon God.

 

2. Our Mission

In Luke 9:58, Jesus said that the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man does not have any place to lay down His head. Here, Jesus was talking about how He Himself lacked even the basic necessities of life. Yet, that didn’t deter Him from preaching and teaching, healing the sick, providing for the poor and uplifting the destitute, marginalized and helpless. He went about His Father’s mission and didn’t get too comfortable along the way.

Are we not involved in God’s mission ourselves? Yes, we are and it is a lifelong mission that requires our wholehearted attention and commitment. So, if our earthly comforts distract or deter us from aligning ourselves with God’s mission in the world, then we need to pause, reflect and realign our lives with God’s heart. Keeping God’s mission at the center of our lives helps us be more focused on eternal rewards than temporary gains.

 

3. Our Devotion

In the account of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), Christ’s response to his question about how to inherit eternal life was to follow the commandments—to which he responded that he had kept all of them very diligently from his youth. Jesus then pointed out that while he may have had kept those commands that dealt with his relationship with his neighbours, he had grossly neglected the ones that talked about his relationship with God. Simply put, he loved his riches more than he loved God and that drastically impacted his relationship with God. The heart of the issue was an issue of his heart, and as the story goes, he went away sad, unwilling to rectify it.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus also said that one cannot serve both God and money. That person would love one and hate the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. So, if a comfortable life is one that is focused on money and hinders us from knowing and experiencing God more intimately, then we run the risk of losing our first love and becoming alienated from Him. God deserves nothing less than our wholehearted devotion.

 

4. Our Service

Jesus didn’t think twice when He took off His outer clothes, took a basin of water and a cloth and stooped down to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He practically demonstrated what true humility is and how we ought to consider others better than ourselves. Like Jesus, our attitude should be one of honoring God wholeheartedly, living selflessly and giving generously.

So rather than amassing wealth or comfort for ourselves, why don’t we make use of readily available opportunities around us to show love and serve those who are less privileged among us? It is, after all, our God-given responsibility to take care of the poor, downtrodden, marginalized, orphaned and widows among us. Faith demonstrated through sacrificial service keeps our lives uncluttered and our hearts willing and pliable for the Master’s use.

 

5. Our Contentment

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to remain content in a world that promotes self-gratification. King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 5:10, said that he who loves money never has enough money, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied. But just as the Apostle Paul learned to be content in whatever circumstances (Phil 4:11), we can also learn to be content if we begin by being grateful for God’s blessings. Rather than worry about what we don’t have, let’s be satisfied with what God has given us.

 

After spending 12 years in Australia, where I had a lucrative job and lived a comfortable life, I gave up all that in response to God’s call and returned to India to serve in Christian ministry. I am often asked: Why did I make such a decision and take this huge step “backward”—as some have called it?

It is because I’ve realized that the things of this world will never satisfy. They only keep us craving for more, eventually leading us on a downward spiral of disappointment, disillusionment and destruction. I’ve found that I can only find true purpose and satisfaction when I fix my eyes on the Lord—the source of all that I have.

So at the end of the day, the question is not whether we can live comfortably, but whether we are living a life that truly pleases and honors God in every way.