FIRST-PERSON: Examining biblical teaching on work

Baptist Press
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Posted: Mar 16, 2011 6:00 PM
FIRST-PERSON: Examining biblical teaching on work
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)--Of all the characteristics, gifts and virtues that indicate that we belong to God, two should obviously set us apart from those who do not profess to know the Lord: one is love and the other is the quality of our work. Our work is the tangible expression of the invisible reality that the power of God is at work mightily within us.

Love for God and others is our inward fuel and motivation that guides all that we do. But our labor is the visible output of that motivation. So we should view our work, regardless of what it is, not as a means to earn God's favor but to express the truth of His life in us.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." The Lord used Solomon to teach us this practical standard for all labor that I call the Principle of All Your Might. This principle clearly establishes God's benchmark for your work ... put your whole effort to the task!

Seek to be the exceptional worker God made you to be by applying these practical steps to make progress.

HAVE A 'YES' ATTITUDE

What is written on your face when you work? Does your face say "Yes!" or "No, no, no!" Proverbs 15:13 says, "A happy heart makes the face cheerful." A cheerful attitude toward your work can reduce the friction in your office, with your customers, and at home. Work with a happy heart even in circumstances that require all of your might to have the right attitude.

SEEK TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

Most jobs have two parts: the fun part and the hard part. Your willingness to accept responsibility for the tough parts of the job, the areas with problems and challenges, will set you apart and allow you to make the most difference. These assignments may require extraordinary measures of patience, energy and effort -- what Solomon calls "all" of your might. But these will also be the assignments when you experience the end of your strength and the beginning of knowing God is there. You will discover that He is in fact able to do more than you could ever even ask or imagine.

A friend of mine worked for years in factory maintenance. The plant housed very large equipment that operated 24 hours a day making sheets of plastic. At the end of the process, the plastic was rolled onto a tube and cut by a very long blade that moved faster than the eye could track. A malfunction caused the blade to improperly cut the plastic. This stopped one of the largest machines from production causing a great deal of lost revenue. A team of engineers was brought in from out of state to fix the cutting process, but their efforts met with little success.

Although my friend does not have a high school diploma and was only the maintenance man on the night shift, he gave the problem his personal attention and extra effort by thinking about possible solutions during his off hours. God gave him an idea that he thought might solve the improper cut of the massive blade. He submitted the idea in the company suggestion box, which was then routed to the team of engineers. To everyone's surprise but his, the idea worked. He could have gone home and never thought about it, but instead, he gave the company's problem all of his might.

PERFECTION IS NOT THE GOAL

Our best effort should not be determined by standards of perfection. Only our Heavenly Father is perfect, and our labors cannot be perfect. Although good is often acceptable, it normally does not require all of our might to achieve good. We can press on to achieve excellence if we don't accept the average or norm.

Vince Lombardi said, "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." This is a great perspective that recognizes our limitations but does not compromise.

The Lord promises that He will use those willing to labor with excellence. "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men" (Proverbs 22:29). We may read this and think it is a motivation for mere vanity or fame, but I think the Lord is indicating that He will display before kings what He can do through His creation. When we are given opportunities for notice because of our work, we are given greater circles of influence to express gratitude for God who enables us to work.

During the summer of 1924, the Olympics were hosted by the city of Paris. Eric Liddell, a committed Christian and famous Scottish runner, refused to race on Sunday, with the consequence that he was forced to withdraw from the 100-meter race, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games began. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400-meter event. On the day of the race, as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honor me I will honor." Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand. He not only won the race, but he broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds.

START TODAY

Applying the Principle of All Your Might is not dependent upon circumstances or other people. You simply resolve that you can take your efforts to new levels when you are assigned a job or responsibility. If you need a mentor, there is probably a friend or co-worker you admire who would be blessed to give you advice and encouragement.

As Solomon reminded us, we are going to the grave where we can no longer work or plan. So before you get to the grave, adopt a "Yes" attitude, tackle the problems, and strive for excellence. Work with all your might and you, too, will feel His pleasure.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of Crown's MoneyLife™ podcast (Crown.org/media/MoneyLife). To learn more about practical resources including the new Eliminating Debt Video Study, visit Crown.org or call 1-800-722-1976. This article was first published in the March 2008 issue of Money Matters. Cofounded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry dedicated to equipping people with biblically based financial tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching. Based in Georgia, the ministry has offices in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Africa, Europe, India, Asia and Australia.

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