Written by Sharon Cheung, Australia
For some of us, our current job represents a gateway to what we hope might be a meaningful career. For others, perhaps it’s merely the next section in the river of life that we go along the flow with. For some still, this job may be the very means to survival.
Whatever you may feel about your job now, know that God cares for you deeply and offers Himself to you. You need not go into it alone.
Here are four considerations that the Bible offers us as we go through our working life.
1. Consider who you are in Jesus
This is a common question we ask when we are getting to know others. But before we answer dutifully with our job titles, we need to remember that our identity is not wrapped up in what we spend most of our week doing but in who God has made us to be every day of the week.
Consider Colossians 3:12 where Paul addresses Christians as ‘God’s chosen ones’. Because our lives are united with Jesus’s through His death and resurrection (Colossians 3:3), whatever we do in word or deed is done in His name (Colossians 3:17).
Rather than considering yourself to be a Christian accountant, a Christian artist, or a Christian chef, Paul is telling us that we are first and foremost Christians who then happens to do the work of an accountant, an artist, or a chef.
Understanding our primary identity in Jesus helps us make decisions, behave, and work in ways that are aligned to who God has made us to be. Colossians 3:12 also gives us a helpful list to start with: to work with compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
2. Consider the realities of toil
Many workplaces and recruitment agencies advertise work as the opportunity to achieve all your dreams, change the world, and pursue what you love whilst being paid. However, you may quickly realise that work often involves deadlines, boring tasks, pressure, failure, budget cuts, disruptions, unreasonable demands, and difficult relationships.
As Christians, there is no need to sugar coat the negative parts of work. In fact, when we read Genesis 3:17-19, we remember that we live in a broken world and that the ground which bore fruit now becomes toil for humankind.
Knowing this reality helps us to bring our work frustrations to God in prayer, and to also not be afraid to open up to others about the reality of work. We are living in the age of curating our lives online; there is no need to pretend before God, for He sees you and cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).
3. Consider the call to serve
Our task as Christians is to learn how to fulfill Jesus’ commands in Matthew 22:36-40—to love God and love others in the most faithful way possible. And love often looks like service.
A great question to ask if you are unsure of the purpose of your work is this: what would happen if I did my job poorly? Just imagine the chain reaction of events and who might be impacted by your lack of commitment, effort, and care.
For example, a property insurance worker’s job is to properly assess the fire and natural disaster risks associated with the property. If they did their job carelessly and the property is underinsured, the owner is left with mounting grief and frustration when disaster strikes.
The reverse is also true! Who would be served well if I did my job faithfully? Consider the Christian who is in the teaching profession. They are actively serving those in their class and any future communities those students take their skills and education to thereafter.
God continues His care for creation often through the work of human beings and even in our toil, He gives us purpose.
4. Consider the nearness of God
Work can be daunting – learning to collaborate with a team, picking up new skills, adjusting to changes in lifestyle rhythms. For workplaces that are still recovering from the pandemic, some of you may be starting a new job in isolation from your colleagues in the office.
In times when we feel alone in our work, remember the nearness of God. He does not leave your side after you leave church on Sunday. He has given us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and the gift of His enduring Word (Colossians 3:16). Furthermore, He has called us into fellowship with other believers – many of whom are also in the workplace. Consider connecting with other believers during the work week for prayer and mission.
Sharon is a staff worker at City Bible Forum and is completing her theological studies at Ridley College in Australia. She loves creating spaces where community is built through exploring the big questions of life and discovering Jesus in the Bible. She has previously worked in finance where she developed a deep love for coffee (a Melbourne must!).