Few people in the world really enjoy their jobs. It is one of the tragedies of our times. Yet, did you realize your ATTITUDE toward your occupation has a lot to do with your reward in God's Kingdom, as well as the spiritual character you build today?
WHY do you go to work? Just to feed the family? Would you perhaps not work at all if you had the means to sustain yourself indefinitely? Do you work because you want to enjoy the "finer things of life"? Do you work only to please people — the boss, the wife, or friends? Are you eager to be the first one out of the plant or office so you can do something you really enjoy? Do you as a church member think: "There is nothing 'spiritual' about my job; I am just putting in time until Christ returns"?
Work Is Important
Let's notice Revelation 22:12: "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." You probably have supposed this scripture refers solely to your "spiritual works" and has nothing to do with your particular job — whether laborer, office worker, housewife, student or whatever. But the Greek word for "work" in this verse is ergon, meaning "toil (as an effort or occupation), doing, labor, work." This is the same Greek word used in Titus 3:14, "And let ours also learn to maintain good works [perform honest trades — margin] for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful." Having the right attitude toward one's job is important because whether one is a working man, housewife or a student, each is being judged by his or her works and performance in these day-to-day tasks. Yet, some members seem to think, "If only I had a 'spiritual' job like the ministers, then I could really put my heart into it." What they don't realize is that as far as their reward in God's Kingdom is concerned, their job is just as "spiritual" as a minister's. And the minister's job is often just as physically tiring and enervating as theirs may be.
God is a practical God. He had a purpose in mind when He said, "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work" (Ex. 20:9). But Satan, the god of this world, has permeated the occupational area of life with falsehood just as he has mightily influenced the religious and educational systems of society. Modern labor is constantly pushing for less work and more pay, greater "fringe benefits," etc. The same archrebel who spawned the heaven myth and set a false goal of a life of eternal leisure — floating ethereally on clouds, plucking a harp, with no work, no challenge, no fulfillment — wants to influence God's people as well! The same spirit that has permeated this society can affect us and our attitude toward our jobs if we're not careful!
The Fulfillment Value of Work
There was a time when people lived to work instead of working to live. What we see in the world today (and to an extent even in God's Church) did not occur overnight. But a Satan guided evolutionary process has occurred which has resulted in bored workers, and has made employee unrest and disinterest the major problem facing employers in the United States and the Western world today. "Relief from the strains of modern life lies not in shorter working hours and more leisure time but in taking on stress with enjoyment," says Dr. Hans Selye, Director of the University of Montreal's Institute of Medicine and Experimental Surgery. He was expert consultant to the Surgeon General of the U. S. Army during 1947-57 and has written a book entitled The Stress of Life. "Man is made to work, to do something that makes demands on him," says Dr. Selye. "With the decline of so many other values such as religion, and nothing new to replace them, work is one of the few areas where man can find a sense of worth and enjoyment." (Of course Dr. Selye doesn't see that true religion and one's work go handin-hand, and really have the same goal.) Dr. Selye added that too often work is a source of frustration and insecurity, just something else to put up with, like traffic congestion, pollution and violence. In an article entitled "Liking Job Eases Strain" (AP), he pointed out that the root, of this frustration is the depersonalization of the individual and the loss of pride in individual accomplishment. "Sure, we're technologically more efficient, but in the process we have lost personal contact," he wrote. "What's the good of the end product — efficiency — if everyone's unhappy? "Formerly a craftsman would make a table from beginning to end and get a great deal of satisfaction. Today, one person makes the legs, another the top and still another paints, so that no one person has made the article and no one is gratified. "Too many people blindly accept status symbols such as, owning a car and put up with a job, they probably don't really want to do to gain them. They may get the car but also years of pent-up tension and no real feeling of accomplishment." Dr. Selye advocates employment of each person in a profession to which his talents are best suited. "There's just as much satisfaction in being a bricklayer and building walls well as there is in being a scientist. Everybody, no matter how low he may be in the scale of mental development, has something that he wants to express...." On the other hand, the stress developed in work you can't bring yourself to enjoy can wreck your health and your happiness. Also, since you probably will not give it your best, it is not likely to solve your financial problems. But most importantly, your spiritual life will be impeded! With these points in mind, let's notice some purposes which should not be the reasons you work
You Should Not Work Just for Money
It is certainly not wrong to receive pay for your work It costs money in this developed, commercialized world to live, to support ourselves and those who depend upon us, and to support the Work of God. It is not even wrong to be rich, if God has so blessed us because of our own or our predecessors' diligent application of God's laws regulating financial success. After all, God does want to bless us. He inspired John to write to Gaius, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health" (III John 2). The Bible also tells us that "A wise man lays up for his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Prov. 13:22). But the point is that the accumulation of money should not be our GOAL. The wages and material blessings should not be ends in themselves. They should be considered as benefits which come along with first seeking the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:24-33). Many today worship money. A representative poll showed most people felt their financial problems would be solved if they got a 30 percent raise. Get, acquire, grasp is a way of life for too many. Another poll, conducted several years ago, showed $75 a week would satisfy one man, while a banker considered a cool million a year not too much. It often depends on one's immediate financial status. A survey conducted by Printer's Ink magazine revealed that 76 percent of the advertising industry's executives who made over $25,000 a year were unhappy in their jobs. More than 21 percent of those interviewed blamed their gloom on the belief they were UNDERPAID. Such is the greed of human nature! Notice the admonition in I Timothy 6:5-10. God inspired Paul to warn of "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. Bu t godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich [that put money before God] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a [not the] root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Again in verses 17-19, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in [the] uncertain[ty of] riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate [share]; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." So don't work only for money! Seek God's Kingdom first (Matt. 6:33) and "if riches increase, set not your heart upon them" (Ps. 62:10).
Don't Work Just "Because You Have To"
What is the most enjoyable physical activity in your life? Is it a sport — golf, tennis or skiing? Eating a steak? Drinking a cold beer? If you think about it, and are completely honest with yourself, you will admit that your happiest moments were during work — real production, fulfillment, accomplishment, building. This pride in accomplishment is not wrong. Solomon advised that "a man should rejoice in his own works" (Eccl. 3:22). He was also inspired by God to say, "Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Eccl. 9:10). Put your heart into your work! Learn to enjoy it!
Don't Just Put in Your Time
Some of God's people, knowing Christ's coming is near, have used this as an excuse for their lack of initiative and zeal on the job. Many have subconsciously thought, "There's no need for extra schooling or trying to better myself on the job since time is so short." The identical problem was apparent in ancient Thessalonica. Some in the church there "closed up shop" when they supposed Christ's return was imminent. Paul had to severely reprimand them. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded Ye u; that if any would not work, neither should he eat." Some had actually quit their jobs. "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But you, brethren, be not weary in well doing" (II Thess. 3:10-13). You must work at your job as if there were years and years to go. That way you will be productive, fruitful and happy in your work, and prepared for Christ's return! Jesus said, "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he comes shall find so doing" (Matt. 24:46), and "occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13).
Don't Work Just to Get Ahead
In 1959 Nick was a fledgling, but ambitious young businessman. He borrowed $500 to start his business and today is a multimillionaire. Success? Yes, if money and getting ahead are the important values. He gets up around 4:00 a.m. each day, grabs a cup of coffee and does office work preparatory for his busy day ahead. He is off to work by 6:00 a.m. for a full day of meetings and decisions that sometimes involve millions of dollars. He is usually home by midnight or shortly thereafter. There is little time for his family or anything else. His job is his life. In fact, his job is his god! Let's not go to this extreme either. The First Commandment requires us to put our Creator first and foremost above everything else, including our own lives (Ex. 20:3; Luke 14:26). If we are to please God by the way we work, we cannot put Him second. It's a matter of proper priorities. Put God first in your work — make your spiritual responsibilities and your ability relate to God in the work you are doing. Do a good job — your best — even if you are being taken advantage of by lazy or incompetent foremen. Serve as if Christ were your direct employer. You will not only be happier with your work, but you will be qualifying for a greater reward in the Kingdom of God, and building greater spiritual character at the same time.
Don't Work Just to Please Men
Some workers are known "boot lickers" and think success comes from buttering up the right people. As a member and representative of the true Church of God, you are to be different. "Servants [employees], be obedient to them that are your masters [employers] according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart [with one motive — to be a good employee because God requires it], as unto Christ; not with eye service [just working hard when the boss is looking], as menpleasers; but as the servants of [that is, actually working for] Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph. 6:5-6). This is actually the conclusion of the whole matter: WORK FOR GOD! Put Him first (Matt. 6:33; Psalms 37:4). This and this alone must be your prime motive in how you work, as well as the attitude you have while you work. Any other prime motive is wrong. "Servants [employees], obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Col. 3:22-23). This is the starting place. Only by working for God can you properly reap the secondary benefits of work — financial blessings, enjoyment of your work, promotion to your highest level of competence and fulfillment, proper relations with those you work with. But most important of all, doing your work as if every individual action were directly a service to God is one major way you will be building the spiritual character you must have to enter the Kingdom of God, and receive a greater reward.
Are You Working for God?
How about it? How does your overall attitude and approach to your job stack up in the light of what God says about working? How are you doing on your job? Your attitude toward your job is a key factor which affects and directly relates to other aspects of your job performance. Following is a list of those areas you can check yourself on: Knowledge of your job Quality of work Quantity of work Reliability Resourcefulness Judgment Drive and leadership Listening to suggestions Attendance and punctuality Personal characteristics (cleanliness, dress, manners, etc.) If you detect any lack in yourself in these areas, meditate on the problems and possible solutions. Then write down your objectives for job improvement. If you do this and couple it with the right attitude toward your work, you will soon be on the road to greater spiritual and physical blessings!