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Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours working, whether at home, at school, or in the workplace. As Christians we recognize work as a gift, a calling God first entrusted to people in the Garden of Eden. We understand that God involves each of us in redeeming, transforming, and caring for his world, no matter what our occupation. So of course we want to do our work well and with integrity.

But what, exactly, might that look like? How do we practically apply biblical wisdom in the world of work to become both a great employee and a positive Christian witness? I’d like to suggest three scriptural principles for consideration.

1. Serve your employer as you would serve Christ (Col. 3:23).

Ultimately we work to glorify God, not simply to earn a paycheck. So honor God by working hard to provide value both to your employer and to your customers. Do your best with the resources under your care. Arrive early at work and at meetings, be organized, listen attentively. Offer help, take initiative, make suggestions. Have a servant’s heart. Make your word good—be reliable and dependable. Do what you say you will do, and do it well in a timely, cost-effective way.

2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39).

Take a sincere interest in your coworkers; have concern for their lives outside of work. Be considerate. Honor others. Look for the good in them and encourage them. Provide St. Benedict’s antidote to grumbling by cultivating a courageous cheerfulness—“modeling, even in difficult situations, an infectious and exemplary élan . . . an orientation which sees a situation with different eyes” (St. Benedict: A Rule for Beginners, New City Press, 1993). Avoid gossip and negative speech. Instead, with a view toward problem solving, offer “dignified good humor” and an “upbeat word.” Look for opportunities to speak positively and to share Christ.

Remember that “your coworkers [will] quickly realize whether that smile of yours is rooted in real cheerfulness or only something you picked up at a seminar on management tools. Real fruit always grows quietly as it ripens.”

3. We are Christ’s ambassadors, so our daily lives must win the respect of others (2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Thess. 4:11, 12).

Ambassadors are, above all, diplomatic. Be the first to acknowledge your mistakes, apologize, ask for forgiveness, make amends. Represent Christ by coming to work with enthusiasm, energy, joy, and a sense of God’s calling and blessing. Stand up for what’s right. Demonstrate honesty and other core values.

When It’s Time to Make a Change

God intended work to be meaningful, productive, and a blessing to others and ourselves. If you feel discouraged or caught in seemingly dead-end work, or if your work lacks meaning or doesn’t provide products or services that make the world a better place—it they’re damaging rather than blessing—it may be time to look for a job that more fully uses your God-given gifts, talents, and passions.

If you feel that you have no other alternatives (especially in this economy) or that God has placed you where you are for a reason, you may want to ask God to show you how to be a great employee and how to love the people you work with.

Along with prayer, seek the godly perspectives of those you respect and who love and know you well to help discern whether God is leading you to change jobs or whether God is shaping you to better reflect Christ in your current workplace.

Next Steps

Expect God to work in and through you. As you live and work with God’s Word as your guide, trust God’s Spirit to provide the strength you need. Listen for God’s voice, and look for opportunities that God gives you every day to reflect the love and grace of Christ. In doing so, you will bear good and visible spiritual fruit that benefits and testifies to the kingdom of God. 

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