WEEK 36: LABOR DAY: YOUR WORK AS YOUR WITNESS
This blog is about Labor Day, but before you stay-at-home-moms, retirees, spouses who support the other spouse, and other non-traditional workers tune out, please hear me out. Some of you have much more challenging assignments than those who are blessed with a well-defined 8-to-5 job. Every Christian has assignments, laboring for the Lord in the home, the office, the school, or wherever. Our work is our testimony to so many people. How we do what we do reflects Jesus—or not. Before you think about standing up and giving a testimony, stop and review the testimony your everyday work on your assignment is giving people who may never read the Bible or go to church.
When I started my consulting practice teaching business communication skills to corporate employees, I wanted to commit my business to the Lord. Two verses guided every decision and influenced every work day.
The first is Colossians 3:23:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
I love this verse, and it is a great plumb line to be sure you are working throughout the day in a Godly way that might make someone think highly of Christ-followers and therefore of Christ. Sadly, through my work for scores of companies through the years, I have heard complaints about a handful of Christians who are viewed as lazy or whose actions do not match the preachy words they profess in the workplace. If we are not authentic in what we believe and do not devote ourselves to reflecting well on the Lord in our neighborhoods and in our offices, people don’t just make judgments about us; they make judgments about the one whose name we bear.
Colossians 3:23 energizes us to work, not as if we are working for our supervisor, VP, or company, but as if we are working directly for the Lord Himself. I assure you that if you go into your workplace or playgroup or construction site or housework with the Lord as your boss, the quality of your work and your productivity will go through the roof! Other versions of that verse tell us to work mightily, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, willingly, cheerfully, or gladly. Some versions say do the best you can, do it from the heart, or to put yourself into it.
The second verse that guided my work was I Timothy 5:18b.
“And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.” (ASV)
Now I will admit that this verse was more about rewarding appropriately the leaders in the church, but as a very new Christian, I did not know that. I actually started my business, became a mom for a the first time, and started following the Lord in the same year. Even though I did not understand the scope of that verse fully, the Lord still used it to guide me into serving my clients in a way that was different from other consultants, and He blessed the work of my hands.
I did know that this verse was more focused on telling others not to hold back appropriate rewards commensurate with the labors of the laborer, but the Lord impressed upon me that this was a two-way street. He convicted me that if I took a company’s money, I should give them all the services, hours, and excellence due for the wages they gave me. And because I was a Christian, it was imperative I give beyond the basic amount due. No bare minimums for Christians. I knew that, in business, the customer and the service person often have different expectations. Because my witness was more important than my bank account, I would have to go above and beyond what I thought was due at times in order not to damage my witness.
And this applies to excellence in all parts of our lives and all that we are in charge of. I had a neighbor recently who thought I should paint my house, even though it was not due. Another neighbor disagreed and felt I could wait a couple of years. What swayed me to do it was that my neighbor knows I am a Christian. The first neighbor’s values say that every inch of your property should be perfect. I do not want something like a paint job damaging the name I bear as a Christian, and in this case, it would. They may never go to church with me, but they certainly watch how I live. They watch how I treat people and respond and listen. They observe if I get along “as much as it is up to me.”
Enjoy the rest from your labors this Labor Day. Consider the verses below when you go back into the assignment God has given you for this season in your life:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
“And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.” (ASV) I Timothy 5:18b
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23