Having Biblical expectations of our work

Having Biblical expectations of our work

Many people have started to reassess their work this year; it has become known as the Great Resignation. After the impact of COVID led to many working from home, then part-time in an office, it has given people time to think. And, on reflection, many people discovered that they were dissatisfied with their work. Maybe it is boring, maybe it just doesn’t spark the joy it used to, or maybe other opportunities seem more compelling. Whatever the case, many people have changed jobs or even complete careers in 2022.

I think this reveals a lot about our hearts and what we expect of work. So many of our issues about work stem from two main problems:

  1. We expect too much of our work. Most of us would like work that we are good at, that we enjoy, that pays well, that others respect, that has a good career path, that gives us a good work-life balance, and that does good in the world. The problem is that no job can provide all of these things all of the time. If we expect our work to bring us deep contentment and satisfaction all the time, we are bound to be disappointed. A shift to a new job or career might help for a while, but work cannot bear the weight of expectation often placed upon it.
  1. We think that our work gets in the way of real life. So many complain bitterly about their work, whatever it might be. Others do all they can to retire early, or see work only as a way to make money to spend on what we want to do. That’s too low a view of work. It assumes that real life is when we get to choose what we do, while work is a necessary evil.

Paul gives us a refreshingly different view of work in Ephesians 6:

5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. (Eph. 6:5-8 ESV)

This was originally written to slaves, those who did not choose their work or have the opportunity to change careers. Even in their situation, they were to work to serve God and not primarily their masters. This is quite different from the issues we considered earlier, of thinking of work too highly or too lowly. Work is a noble thing, a gift from God, and an important way that we serve God. Our work is significant and God expects us to work well as if for Him. Yet, at the same time, our primary aim is serving God, not ourselves or our bosses. Work needs to be in the right place; not a way to get respect or meaning or ultimate satisfaction, but a way to serve our God.

Take time to thank God for your work. Yes, even if it is boring, if it is not ideal, and if it contains all kinds of tasks you do not enjoy. Your work is a key way that you serve your God.

And if you are considering a change of career, remember that your work will never truly bring satisfaction as you hope it will. It may make sense to change jobs, of course, but we need to be realistic. That new job will also become same-ish after a while. True satisfaction is found in Jesus and not in our work.