“Does my work really matter?”
This is one of those questions we all ask ourselves from time to time. Even outside of Christian circles, people ponder how they spend their time. We all want to assure ourselves that the work we fill our days with has meaning and value.
From a secular standpoint, that might sound like:
“Do people care about the work I’m doing?”
“Am I solving a problem for people?”
“Does the company I work for really make a difference?”
Those are all fine questions. For us, as Christ-followers, we ask ourselves an even bigger question.
“Does my work provide Kingdom value?”
I focus most of my writing and content on serving Bible-believing Christians who work in secular settings. Because of this, you are likely making an assumption. Something like: "Of course she thinks the work I do in a secular setting matters!"
Well… My actual answer to that question is this:
I’m not trying to dodge the question or appease everyone. I’m simply pointing to the fact that it depends on how you approach your work. You can approach your work in a way that has no Kingdom impact and doesn’t represent Christ well. You can even approach your work in a manner that actually harms the body of Christ. On the other hand, you can approach your work in a way that glorifies Him and advances the Kingdom. You can take either of those approaches from any work setting.
Asking “Does my job have Kingdom impact?” is really the wrong question. That question focuses on the what.
We tend to ask:
“Does God want me to be a pilot or open a restaurant?”
“Does He want me to be a teacher or stay at home with my kids for a season?”
“Should I take that promotion or stay where I’m at? Or make a lateral movement?”
Those are all what questions. We ask “What should my job be?” (Side note: We could pause here and dig into the topic of finding our identity in our jobs… but we’ll save that for another article.)
I'm not saying what you do doesn't matter at all. I love seeing professionals settle into careers that are the right fit for them based on their God-given abilities. We all need to consider our vocational calling with care. I'm saying that's not where the emphasis lies as we look at the larger picture. As long as you aren’t engaged in an inherently sinful profession as a career criminal or a prostitute, I don’t believe the what is near as relevant as the why and the how.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)
We don’t turn off our identity in Christ when we enter any workplace or setting. We can honor Him no matter where we've been called to labor.
Ok, so back to the question of “Does my work provide Kingdom value?” My answer is “It depends.” So, what does it depend on? While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are three big hangups for many Christian professionals. As you read through these, prayerfully consider where God may be nudging you to make a few changes.
Your personal goals certainly matter at a Spiritual level. What you’ve established as your targets in life and at work matter – whether they are written down in perfect “SMART goal” format or simply known in your heart. Your goals become foundational to how you spend your time.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
None of us want to labor in vain. Whether you and I decide to get in line with God’s targets, His plans will be established, and He is in control. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to be walking in step with the Father and His plans.
It’s important to note that, within the context of this article, I’m not talking about your organizational goals or strategic plans. Show up well and with excellence for those business goals. Be a good and God-glorifying employee. I’m inviting you to consider your personal goals.
What do you want to be true at work next year that isn’t true today?
There are all sorts of targets we can set for ourselves professionally. Consider yours. Are they aligned with God’s targets for you? Have you ever asked Him? Have you prayed for wisdom and discernment when it comes to your career goals?
Now, you may be wondering if I’m implying that the goals listed above are bad goals. Please note that I’m not saying we shouldn’t work toward more money or career advancement or a new role. I’m simply pointing to the fact that we need to consider if our goals are aligned with God’s will for us. This is where the second piece comes in: motivation.
Before labeling a goal as “God-glorifying” or “sinful,” we should look at the motivation. The same goal can either come from a place of worldly motivation or from a place of Kingdom motivation. Let’s take a look at perhaps the most universal human desire of “I want more money.” We need money to provide for our families and we should work hard to provide. (See Paul's words in 1 Timothy 5:7-8.) When we make more than is needed to cover our most basic human needs, we then decide what we do with the excess. There are God-glorifying things we can do with money and there are self-serving things we can do with money. There are even stupid and sinful things we can do with money. If a goal of yours is to earn more money, pause and take a look at your motivations. Are they aligned with the Father?
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
It’s all about alignment with the Father when it comes to goals and motivations. Having ambitions and making plans is wise and prudent. God gave us minds to think and plan, but God should be the one directing our paths and establishing our steps. He is ultimately in full control anyway. I pray it is the desire of our hearts, as marketplace Christians, to be walking in step with Him.
Through God’s Word, we are given a wealth of instruction on how to conduct ourselves as Believers. Those instructions apply to the entirety of our lives – work included.
Are you loving your co-workers as Christ loved others?
Are you walking fruitfully, in step with the Spirit at work?
Are you honest, patient, and self-controlled during tense interactions?
Are you humble, gracious, and steady with your leadership?
Are you generous with your time and what God has blessed you with?
Do you work hard for your employer and direct thanks to God for the opportunity to work?
Do you proudly wear the label of “Christ-follower” at work, or do you hide your identity in Christ?
We should consider these questions, and many others, as we show up in the workplace. You, my friend, are a Kingdom worker. If you are a Christian, you are called to work for the Kingdom right now. I don’t need to know what you fill your days with to know that. I don’t need to know if you are a corporate executive, a salesman, a bank teller, a teacher, an electrician, or a homemaker. I don’t need to know what you do during the core hours of the day to know that if you are a Christian, God has called you to get to work for Him.
Living in the freedom of the body of Christ allows us to walk into whatever career He has called us to and have Kingdom impact. God has called us to work from the very beginning. In fact, one of the first things He said to humans, right there in the Garden was essentially, “Get to work.” He’s given us jobs and provided us with what we need to do those jobs well. We have the free will to choose to follow Him, glorify Him, and point to Him while we do so.
So, does your work have Kingdom impact?