The following is an excerpt from a workshop segment at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church from Your Workplace and Neighborhood Ministry, September 13, 2008:
The demands for excellence and performance on the job is ever present today and seems to be the case whether the economy is doing very well or not so well. Companies are feeling the pressure to remain competitive and are looking for ways to increase revenue while keeping costs and expenses under control. This pressure to perform is pushed down onto the workers—the people that are in the trenches, so to speak, who are called upon to do more work in what one can argue is less time to do it. The 40-hour week is becoming more of a myth as it has forced many to extend their time on the job to meet the demands of their workload. All of these factors still require all persons within the organization, from the executives, managers, support staff and specialists, to perform at a high level of excellence in order to remain successful and competitive.
Many organizations correlate good working relationships with productivity and profitability. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent this year by companies providing seminars and workshops for their employees that will focus on their ability to improve upon their communication, achieving trust, identifying strengths and weaknesses—all in the effort to train up and make the company more effective. Even with all of this effort, our particular seminar is going to look at how the employee can operate in ministry with the standard of God’s Word as the foundation of everything that is accomplished.
If you were at our last seminar in April (2008) when we presented Your Relationship with Your Contemporaries, the verse that we commonly refer to as the verse best associated with honoring God in the workplace:
Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but [work] wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord—you serve the Lord Christ.
As we emphasized before, the job that you do is to reflect the best example of Christ-like living in the workplace. If we are performing to the best of our ability and also showing the humility and desire to improve our performance, that is the best way to honor God and be a positive testimony to him. In practice, following the principle of Colossians 3:22-24 makes the practitioner an important part of God’s ministry in the workplace, but we need to look at the opportunities in workplace ministry with some additional principles that will be our focus today.
With the high level of expectations that are before today’s worker, we will sometimes see that not every single worker will always perform at a high level of expectation. In any organization there will be high performers, average performers, and below-average performers. The differences between workers and performances have a lot to do with the number of different personalities that are found in the workplace.
In order to be successful with relationships in the workplace and with those we interact with (no matter where we are), we must embrace the philosophy that is noted in scripture on how we are to treat our neighbor:
“You must not hate your brother or your fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
For emphasis, here is more in Leviticus 19:33-34:
“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
These verses are from the Lord speaking to the nation of Israel through Moses in establishing standards for living a life of holiness. There was a strong emphasis on treating people the right way. This philosophy is emphasized throughout Scripture and is a commandment from God.
When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment (Deuteronomy 6:1-5). The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.
Not only do we treat others as we should be treated, but it is the commandment of God for us to do it.
As we discussed in Session II, we find that we have a responsibility to elevate our level of ministry with a true confidence that we are acting on behalf of God and that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are not to do this in a robotic sense but with the mindset that everything that we do is to be prepared for ministry in the world, which in many ways is adversarial to any presentation of Jesus Christ:
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
The armor consists of the tools that we discussed in Session II, with the source being God’s Word, embracing his righteousness, and using the power of the Holy Spirit. Now that we have an understanding of what scripture says to us about our approach in the workplace, we need to make sure that we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability. If we are not doing our work according to the standards and expectations of our employer, we cannot, in the long run, be effective in ministry. The work that you do well is a testimony of God to others you interact with. If you are doing a lousy job, how can you possibly bear witness of Jesus Christ to a co-worker? Even in the midst of working within the body of Christ, here is how the person who does not work or sloughs off is looked upon:
2 Thessalonians 3:11-13
For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work |of others|. Now we command and exhort such people, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that quietly working, they may eat their own bread. Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
A person who does not do his job in the workplace is not only lacking in effective service and production, but in many cases will hinder others with the lack of productivity. We, as believers, do not want to blend in with those who are easily dismissible because they aren’t putting forth the effort that is expected of them. It is not a positive testimony.
The attitude of the believer is that we are to do our best. If we are doing our best and showing initiative, you are reflecting leadership capabilities even if you do not have anyone reporting to you. Do you realize that following Christ and being loyal and obedient to his Word is a position of leadership? While Christ is the head of our lives, he gives us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a true essence of leadership because of how we present ourselves as a follower of Christ. You are a leader in the workplace because your belief and life in Christ is more often than not the exception. You look different, you act differently…you stand out because you show confidence in who you are in Christ. The believer who does not show confidence in God’s Word cannot be a leader and a good witness for Christ. This goes back to the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. We need to make sure that we have a complete understanding of how we can operate in God’s confidence and not let the world, or Satan, trick us into believing that we lack the power or authority.
There are, of course, different types of leaders. The leadership that I am referring to is based upon the confidence of God’s Word in our workplace behavior and actions. In the same way that Joshua was chosen by God to take his place in leading the Israelites (Numbers 27:18-23), the power of the Holy Spirit gives you leadership qualities because you are relying upon His strength…and not just your own. Remember, too, that leadership is in your actions, and remember that Jesus Christ is our head but His leadership was in His humility and in His sacrifice…it was in His service:
When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you. “•I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
We can conclude that we are empowered as believers to live and act in ministry and worship with leadership and yet, in doing so, and in following Christ, we are still exercising humility. The work that we do is just as much a facet of our ministry as our obedience to Jesus Christ and our service for Him.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.