Make Your Work Count!

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Various Scriptures

INTRODUCTION: Today we are beginning a new message series called, “Lord, Make My Life Count!” We all want our lives to count for something. None of us wants to get to the end of our lives and say, “What was that all about?” We are only given so many hours in the day, so many days on the calendar, and we want our actions to mean something. The search for significance is universal. We all want to be important and to make a difference.

In this series we are going to look at a number of areas of life, and then see what the Bible says about how you can make each of these areas count. The Bible is God’s instruction book for living. In its pages you find invaluable wisdom that will guide and protect you as you wind your way through this thing called life. The topics we will be looking at in this series are your work, your rest, your faith, your prayers, your money and your time.

This is Labor Day Weekend, and so it is appropriate that we begin with the topic of work. How do you make your work count? We will be looking at a variety of Scriptures on this, but we will begin with Genesis 1:27-28 followed by 2:15. (Read Genesis 1:27-28, 2:15)

Have you ever been caught sleeping at work? Here are the five best things to say if you’re caught sleeping at work:

5. They told me at the blood bank this might happen.
4. This is just a 15 minute power nap like they raved about in the
time management course you sent me to.
3. Whew! Guess I left the top off the white-out. You probably got
here just in time.
2. Did you ever notice sound coming out of these keyboards when
you put your ear down real close?
And the number one best thing to say if you’re caught sleeping at your desk:
1. Raise your head slowly and say, . . . “Amen!”

Work is a huge part of each of our lives. Whether you are out in the workforce, or you are a student at school, or you are a mother at home, you spend a significant amount of your time working. According to this chart from the U.S. Department of Labor, on an average work day the typical employed person spends 2.5 hours on leisure and sports, 1.1 hours on household activities, 1.1 hours eating and drinking, 1.2 hours caring for others, , 1.7 hours on other activities, 7.6 hours sleeping, but the biggest slice of the pie chart goes to work at 8.8 hours.

time_use_chart_work

You are going to spend a lot of time in your life working, so today I want us to look at three principles from God’s Word that will help you in your work and help you make your work count.

I. Vocation – View your work as God’s calling

The first principle has to do with vocation, and that is to view your work as God’s calling.

   A. God created you to work (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:15)

The Bible tells us that from the very beginning God created you to work. We read in Genesis 1, the first chapter of the first book of the Bible: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

Theologians call this the creation mandate. God created us in his own image and then commanded us to fill the earth and subdue it. This means we are to work this planet, to care for God’s creation, and to discover the potential that God has built into the earth. We are called to make families, communities and culture as we fill the earth and subdue it through the God-honored means of work.

Some people mistakenly think that work came after the fall, that God originally intended us just to live in the garden and eat fruit off trees without any work at all. But a careful reading of Scriptures shows just the opposite. We read in Genesis 2 that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) This was before the fall, before sin entered the world, even before the creation of Eve.

God created you to work, and so you should view your work as God’s calling. When you work, you are fulfilling part of God’s calling on your life.

   B. All work is ministry (Colossians 3:23-24)

Part of viewing your work as God’s calling is understanding that all work is ministry. Colossians 3 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

We tend to think of ministry as the work we do in the church rather than the work we do in the world. We divide life into the sacred and the secular, but God views it all as one. Ministry simply means serving the Lord, and you can do that at church, but you can also do it at your place of work. So you might be a minister of the gospel, but you could also be a minister of accounting, or a minister of daycare, or a minister of plumbing!

Martin Luther wrote:

“The idea that service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that the service of God takes place only in the church and by works done therein.  …  The whole world could abound with services to the Lord  …  not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, and field.” (Martin Luther)

Or as Dorothy Sayers wrote: “All work done well and for God’s glory is Christian work.”

We like to say that our church has three pastors but many ministers. You are all ministers as you serve the Lord both here in the church and in the place where God has called you to work. I asked Linda, our secretary, to pull the list of all the different occupations of our church members from the church database. We often list the ministries we have here at the church, but this morning I want to list the ministries we have out in the workplace. Are you ready for this? It’s a long list! The members of Plantation Community Church have the following ministries of work:

accountant, account manager, accounts receivable, actress, administration, after school director, architect, artist, attorney, audio-visual, auto body, avionic tech, bank teller, banker, bookkeeper, business owner, businessman, buyer, CPA, car wholesaler, caregiver, chef, clerk, computers, construction, contractor, correspondence dept., courier, crime analyst, data entry, dental hygienist, director, doctor, educational consultant, electrician, electronic tech, elevator mechanic, EMT, engineer, field wetland ecologist, financial advisor, finance manager, floral designer, foster care, general clerk, graphics/printer, home business, home maker, home renovator, house cleaner, insurance, interior design, inventory, journalist, judicial assistant, junkyard owner, librarian, limo service, logistics analyst, mail handler, manager, mason, mechanic, mechanical designer, medical tech, merchandiser, missionary, mother, nurse, office manager, painter, paralegal, pastor, pilot, photographer, policeman, president, procurement, production designer, professor, programmer, project analyst, project manager, quality assurance, regional rep., retired, sales, secret service, secretary, security supervisor, self-employed, service coordinator, service technician, social worker, software, staffing, statistical analyst, student, supervisor, teacher, teacher’s aide, tech consultant, tech librarian, trainer, training analyst, travel agent, unemployed, unit assistant, utilities, vice president, water ski school, and water treatment plant!

Wow! That’s outstanding! You are serving God in so many ways in this world. That is awesome! So that’s the first principle to lay hold of in making your work count. Don’t think of your job as just as a job. View your work as God’s calling. God created you to work. All work is ministry.

II. Service – Know who your REAL boss is

The second principle I want you to understand in making your work count is that of service. And here I want you especially to know who your REAL boss is.

   A. Work as serving the Lord (Ephesians 6:5-8)

The Bible says that you are to work as serving the Lord. Look at Ephesians 6 with me. These words were originally addressed to slaves and their masters but they are just as applicable to workers and bosses today. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8)

You may have a great boss, or you may have a terrible boss, but either way make sure you know who your real boss is. You are serving the Lord. This one principle will revolutionize your attitude at work. When you realize that you are really serving God and not just some human being who happens to be over you, you will work differently. You will begin to see your work as ministry because you are serving the Lord.

Ann Voskamp writes about this realization in the context of doing the hard work of mothering at home. She writes:

All work is sacred work, worthy of the diligence, the effort. I pick up lost legos, dry the pots, whish the toilets and this serves God. For if I can’t meet God in my work, where do I meet Him? If I don’t serve Him here, where do I serve Him? Are we not called to serve God in the work – not merely in some imagined, mirage place outside of work?

In a model of Christian work, we live one-piece lives, all weaving together into a sacred cloth as unto the Lord with no false seams between God and our days.

And in our work, sacred work because there is no such thing as secular work, we first serve God. I’ll put away the laundry, sweep the crumbs, polish the windows not to serve my family primarily, but to serve God.

Whether you are a mother, a contractor, or a student – whatever your calling – when you work as serving the Lord, your work takes on new significance. Know who your real boss is. Work as serving the Lord.

   B. Work to serve others (Ephesians 4:28)

And because God is your real boss, you not only work to serve him, you must also work to serve others. Ephesians 4:28 says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

According to this verse your work serves others in two ways. First, you are to do something useful. Now all work that is honest, moral and lawful would fall under the category of useful. When you work you are either providing services or products that other people need, or you are providing basic necessities for yourself. So whatever work you find yourself in, praise God that you have the opportunity to serve others by being useful.

At the same time, you may want to evaluate the work you’re in and ask the Lord, “Am I using the gifts that you’ve given me to the fullest? Could I serve others better in a different place?” The Lord may lead you to take some steps of faith; he may lead you to get additional education or training. Either way, understand that you are to serve others by doing something useful with your work.

And then the second way this verse teaches you to serve others through your work is by sharing with those in need. You work first of all so that you will not be dependent on others, but God wants you to take that additional step where you order your finances in such a way that you can also help those who are in need.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart but then also to love your neighbor as yourself. The two come together when you view your work as service to God and to others. Know who your real boss is. Work as serving the Lord. Work to serve others.

III. Witness – How you work matters

How do you make your work count? We have talked about vocation: view your work as God’s calling. We have talked about service: know who your real boss is. Finally, I would like to talk about witness. How you work matters.

   A. Work hard (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

First of all, the Bible tells you to work hard. Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit.” (Proverbs 14:23) Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Basically, God says, “When you work, work hard!” Part of your witness at work is to do a good job. Take initiative. Be responsible. Follow through. Go the extra mile. Do the things that no one else will do. Work hard at your job, and earn a reputation for excellence. You will feel better about your work when you do, you will be a good witness to others, and you will be surprised at how God will bless you when you work hard at the tasks set before you. All hard work brings a profit, but it also enhances your witness.

   B. Work with integrity (Colossians 3:22-24)

Secondly, work with integrity. We looked at Colossians 3 earlier when we talked about your work as ministry or service to the Lord. Now I want us to look at it again in the context of working with integrity. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:22-24)

It is one thing to work hard when your boss has his or her eye on you. But what about when no one is watching? That’s where integrity comes in. Be honest in your work. Be above board with your boss, with your clients and in all your transactions. Integrity means you are the same person in private as you are in public. If you wouldn’t steal when people are looking, then you don’t steal when you are all alone. If you wouldn’t waste time while the boss was standing there, you won’t waste time when he or she is not there. Integrity means you are a whole person. You are not one person in one situation and a different person in another. And if you are a whole person, then you will work with a whole heart. You will work with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, because it is the Lord Christ you are serving. Working with integrity is part of your witness.

   C. Work to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)

1) Work hard, 2) work with integrity, and finally 3) work to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

God created you to glorify him and enjoy him forever. One of the ways we glorify him is here at church when we worship him as part of the body of Christ. But you are also called to glorify God in your work. So work hard, work with integrity, do a good job, gain a good reputation, but do it not for your own glory but for the glory of God. When your boss or co-worker or a client compliments you on your work, thank them, but then go that extra step and give God the glory. You can say something like, “Thank you, that means a lot to me, but I really need to thank God. He’s the one who helps me, and I give him all the praise.”

The composer Johann Sebastian Bach signed all his works, “To the glory of God alone.” We need to find creative ways to make that our signature on all the work we do.

And don’t be afraid to share Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) Let people know you are a Christian, and that your faith in Jesus affects your whole life including your work. Look for opportunities to share Christ with your boss, your co-workers, your clients or your fellow students. That’s our third principle this morning. How you work matters. Be a good witness at work.

CONCLUSION: Do you want your work to matter? Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to leave a mark? Then understand these three vital principles from Scripture:

1) View your work as God’s calling. God created you to work. All work is ministry.

2) Service: Know who your real boss is. Work as serving the Lord. Work to serve others.

3) Witness: How you work matters. Work hard. Work with integrity. Work to the glory of God.

© Ray Fowler

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Click here for more messages from the Lord, Make My Life Count! series.
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