You showed up to work today, but it feels like God didn’t. He feels remote and absent from what you do all day long. There are temptations all around, opportunities for cutting corners. No one else cares one wit about serving God. Conversations are all banal. And yet you believe God is sovereign over all things, and that means sovereign over putting you in this job in the first place.
You grow doubtful about yourself and wonder what it must be like for businessmen who are giants in the faith, and who sail through meetings and private work carried along by the joy of serving God. And here you stand in a job where God feels so far away.
In reality, the workforce is not only how God works through you; it is a place where God works inside of you, conforming you to the image of Christ. He may feel distant, but he’s not. He is using the difficulties and pressures in your job right now to focus you in at least six areas.
1. God is using your workplace to focus your faith.
There are no meaningless moments when life is contemplated in light of the glory of God. God created us to live for him and his glory. It is our chief calling in life. Whatever we do, we are to do for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). We don’t ultimately work for our own pleasure, entertainment, self-improvement, or gain. We work for God and his glory, and we are to glorify him in all that we do.
It’s not just for those moments of singing a solo on Sunday morning or when we hoist the Super Bowl trophy. We glorify him in all things, even the mundane and difficult parts of life. The great saints of the Bible got this. They glorified him while shipwrecked at sea, sitting in jail, and herding sheep! God’s glory motivates us to do great things, and it reminds us of our ultimate reward. Yes, our trials in life are hard, but the greatness of God’s reward makes them appear light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17). Reflecting on the glory of God transforms all facets of our day at the office.
2. God is using your workplace to focus your heart.
Paul was compelled and controlled by the love of Christ. Christ’s love set him in motion to do great things. It should also move us. Gospel change starts inward in the deepest parts of our souls and works outward.
“There are no meaningless moments when life is contemplated in light of the glory of God.”
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When we are listless in our work. When we are beaten down and uninspired. When we are tempted to give up. When we are tempted to reward the abrasiveness of our boss with subpar work, this is when we remember, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Our work is not ultimately done for the people around us, but for the glory of our heavenly Father. If you’re uninspired because of hardship, consider him “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
3. God is using your workplace to focus your hands.
Our hands are the instruments of our heart. They express outwardly what we believe inwardly. Our work ought to show we have a higher calling. It ought to say that something greater than earthly reward motivates it. The quality of our work should glorify God. Dorothy Sayers said, “No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth.”
Our work is ultimately an offering to God (Romans 12:1). If work is done just for promotion, recognition, or advancement, we will always be discouraged and disappointed. God is worthy of our doing great things for him each and every day as an act of worship and praise. Tune out the distractions and obstacles, focus on God, and do quality work only he can appropriately reward.
4. God is using your workplace to focus your love.
It’s not just what we do, but how we do it. Your work and how you do it affects other people. Some produce great products, but in the process they run all over others. Our work for the glory of God ought to serve those around us. We serve others by what we make and how we make it. Our work ought to be empowered by the Spirit and filled with the fruit of the Spirit: the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
Imagine how different and enjoyable that vapid workplace might be if the fruit of the Spirit was manifested there. Well, it starts with you. Pray for it. Seek after it. If you think your work is too small to make a difference, then consider the great effect of the kindness and mercy one man in a field had on his employees and a couple poor widows (Ruth 2:3–13).
5. God is using your workplace to focus your mind.
If these things are true about your work and what you do every day, then the change most needed isn’t that of a different environment, but a change of how we think about it. We ought to pray to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). One of the greatest challenges we face is not buying into the thought that what we see is all that is there. When we think God is not at work or not interested in work, then we have bought into the naturalistic worldview and not the biblical one.
6. God is using your workplace to focus your witness.
The gospel moves us to have an area of influence (2 Corinthians 10:13–16). Perhaps the reason you are in an office with people who have little regard for God, the products they make, or the way they work is because they struggle with a motivation to work and with direction for how to work. Perhaps the reason there is so much pressure at work is because people don’t have anything other than work to trust in. And perhaps you are there not to be a thermometer that reflects the conditions, but a thermostat that adjusts the conditions.
“God is at work in you as much on Monday morning as he is at work in you on Sunday morning.”
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You have a great message to share with other people, and it might stir them to make the most of work and life. If you need help seeing more of what God has called you to on the job, then share that with your coworkers — tell them what you read in the Bible and how you need help with it. Ask others for help and invite them into your journey to be a better worker and teammate. They might say no, but they might appreciate your noble desire to make yourself and the workplace better. And it just might be a profound way you see God work.
God is at work in you as much on Monday morning as he is at work in you on Sunday morning, you just need to see it. Most of us do work behind the scenes that very few people understand or appreciate. No one realizes how much goes into making the pizza, writing the program, or shipping the product. In a similar way, God is at work in our lives in all we do, and sometimes we don’t see it until we really press in and think about it. When we do, we see that God is working behind the scenes in what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and where we do it. Realizing this truth might transform your workplace experience.
Keith Welton is lead pastor of Bridgeway Church in Alpharetta GA. He went into vocational ministry after a stint in the business world. He’s the author of Working for Glory: A Theology for Doing Work that Matters. He and his wife Amanda have four children.