Education/Career Life Skills

“Hi Ho It’s Off to Work We Go!” 4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Job

Getting up any morning is hard. I like my sleep! Monday mornings, especially, are the hardest. “Do I have to go to work?”  Everything in my body wants to stay under the covers. Sometimes it’s because I had an overly busy weekend and I’m literally tired. I need another day off to recuperate! Other times it’s because there are work-stresses that I’d just rather not face. You know, the proverbial head in the sand, ignore it and it just might go away syndrome. It seems every generation thinks those coming into the workforce after them have less of a driven work ethic than they do. Evidence shows that many children of the Baby Boomer generation entering the workforce have an ere of entitlement. The Baby Boomers represent the largest, wealthiest, most advanced demographic population in the Western Culture. Their overall affluence has shifted susequent generations’ values and ideas about work. Things come a lot easier for their children. The question is, if you are a Christ-follower, of any age, what should your personal work-ethic look like?

Paul had some good things to say about work; both to the employee and employer. Back in his day, many were called bondservants; a person who was essentially owned by their master. When bondservants found faith in Christ, their job situation didn’t necessarily change. They still woke up a bondservant. Saved, but still owned by an earthly master. Many masters were reasonable to work for. (Yes, you can have an unsaved boss and find him reasonable in his work expectations of you.) Yet, just as well, there were some masters who were terrors to work for. Supression of human dignity and forced unethical actions made working for them a definite problem; especially if you were saved in Christ.

With that, Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, (a city in what is now northern Greece), advice on how to deal with your working situation.  

“5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” Ephesians 6:5-9 ESV

Here are 4 tips on how to view work as a Christ-follower.

1. Obey with fear and trembling from a sincere heart. Some of us are people-pleasers. We give our bosses lip-service only to slough off when they aren’t around. During college, I worked for a local aircraft company. As soon as the supervisor left for lunch the entire department shut off the lights and put their feet up on their desks. Me, the scrawny college intern, kept my nose to the grindstone with my desk lamp as the only lumens in the room. One day, a fellow employee slipped out early for lunch, thinking he’d never get caught. Let’s just say that was the one day the boss decided to go out to eat instead of eating in the company cafeteria. When I came back to work the following Monday, the employee wasn’t there anymore.

I learned a lot that summer what disrespect looked like. How we treat our bosses is how we treat Christ. Often, it comes down to an issue of my willingness to submit to authority. Fear, trembling and a sincere heart is what Christ calls us to. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it is the best path forward. It is God’s will you obey your earthly employee in the same way you obey Christ.

2. Jesus is your real employer.  God calls your work to be good and he intends for you to work with a good attitude, rendering quality service. Mediocre work and being a Christ-follower is an oxymoron. There is a difference between inexperience and carelessness. As an employer, I’d never expect someone just out of college to be a master at their work. We were all green and wet behind the ears one time. I sure was! One isn’t an “expert” until they have over 10,000 man hours at their particular work. That means at least five years of full-time work. Carelessness is a cousin to laziness. If you’re sloppy at your work, is it because you need more training or because you just don’t care? Recently, we hired a college intern. He was comparing his experience at our firm to those of his peers at other firms. “In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve had more opportunities given to me. It’s definitely exciting! Others literally sit at their desk doing nothing all day. They are so bored.” Part of you doing a good job is having meaningful work to do. If you find yourself in an awkward spot of not having enough to do or your work is not challenging enough, talk to your supervisor. If he honestly doesn’t have enough work for you to do, then what you have, do it with excellence and look for other opportunities within your company that could be an asset to the business. We are each wired a bit differently. What is a normal pace of work for one person may be hectic to another. Whatever your pace is, do it as to the Lord. He is your real employer.

Fake Work

Before moving to the next tip, I want to say something about carelessness’ cousin laziness. In God’s economy laziness is stealing. It’s deception. We’re all familiar with the term ‘fake news’, laziness is ‘fake work’. It’s this idea of wanting the pay without giving valid effort. Some companies base an employee’s value upon the revenue they bring in. Depending on your job, you have either a direct or passive impact on the revenue you generate. A young man I mentor works for a local fast-food establishment. His pay is 17% of the passive revenue he generates. All things considered, his full-time equivalency revenue value is $100,000. (Revenue is what the company makes off of you.  Salary is your paycheck.) If your salary costs more than the revenue you are assigned to bring in, then either figure out a way to increase your revenue or anticipate an employment change. Value is both tangible and intangible.

3. Your Paycheck is from Jesus.  My company has direct deposit. I am paid the last working day of the month. My entire career has been that way. What I find interesting is that the Lord often pays me extra in various ways I don’t expect: good working relationships, a bonus, good health, successful projects, a content heart, deeper fellowship with Jesus. Even if your good work isn’t noticed by your employer and your pay isn’t the best, keep in mind that the Lord is your ultimate employer and he will definitely reward your faithfulness far beyond any earthly paycheck.

4. Bosses Beware. Before you think God’s Word only talks about employees, think again. Employers are just as much on God’s mind. He wants them to treat employees with dignity and respect. Threatening your workers is sub-par. Threats breed insubordination. Jesus doesn’t threaten us. He calls us to himself and gives us value through his love placed upon us. How we treat our employees is how we see our relationship with Christ. Being a threatening boss and a Christ-follower is an oxymoron. Having said that, sometimes, Christ-following employers have to terminate an employee, whether it’s due to an economic down-turn or because of sub-par work performance. In God’s economy a Christ-following employer terminating a Christ-following employee because of sub-par work performance is an unfortunate situation. Yet, even in such the Lord is using the employment termination to accomplish a greater work in the employee’s character and in the employer’s as well.

No Partiality

To be a Christ-follower does not get you off the hook from leading well as an employer and working well as an employee. Both are called to the same standard. Effort exerted as one is yielded to Christ is the best way to live out the truths of God’s view of work. As Galatians 2:20 reminds us “Not I, but Christ…”

Warrior On!

David Riffel

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Mentoring Warriors, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to equipping men to mentor and preparing warriors (ages 18-30) for life. Having gone through his warrior years essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly-released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity. David has been an architect in professional practice for over 35 years.

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