A Biblical Perspective on Work

I like to work! I’m 71 years old and NOT retired! Today, with The Navigators, I get to spend time helping pastors be more effective making disciples in their churches. I also mentor younger men and analyze corporate data for The Navigators. Before that, I was in the Air Force for 20 years and had my own statistical consulting business for 10.

Work itself is an honorable and necessary thing.

The first picture we have of God is that he is a worker (Genesis 1 and 2)

Many of God’s key people worked at “secular” jobs:

  • Joseph and Daniel were Prime Ministers.
  • Moses was a liberator and led the people through the wilderness.
  • Joshua was a general.
  • David, who wrote about half the Psalms, was also a military man and a king.
  • Many events in the Bible occurred in the context of work:

  • God appeared to Moses while he was tending sheep (Exodus 3).
  • The angel appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat (Judges 6).
  • The shepherds in Luke 2 were at work when the angels appeared to them, and after seeing the baby Jesus, they returned to work.
  • I’m excited that the Bible affirms work and our place in the world of work as followers of Jesus.

    Our work in and of itself is an extension of God’s work in the world. Nearly every reference to the Sabbath begins with something like, “Six days shall you work.” Nearly all work is important—that’s why we’re paid to do it! I’ve been to Haiti on three occasions, a country with an unemployment rate exceeding 80%. The result? There is no garbage collection. There is no mail service. The roads are a mess. America, by and large, is a country that works. I was in the Atlanta Airport before 6am a few months ago, and I marveled to see how many thousands of people were there ahead of me. Working in TSA, fixing and serving food in the restaurants, handling baggage, getting planes ready to fly, etc. Such productivity is something to give thanks for. Work is what keeps things going. We serve people by our work.

    We serve people at our work. Our work is a place where we’re in contact with co-workers, bosses, and clients. We have an opportunity to serve them. I’ve always been fascinated with Joseph in prison. In charge of the prison (Genesis 39.22), Joseph noticed that the cupbearer and the baker were dejected (Genesis 40.6). I don’t know if I would have noticed that two guys in prison were more dejected than they usually were. But Joseph noticed, and he served them.

    – If we serve people well by our work and at our work, we can advance the Kingdom from our work. Many believers think that advancing the Kingdom is the only reason to be at work. Or they think that the only spiritual value of working is earning money to support their families and maybe giving money so that missionaries can advance the kingdom. These are both very limited views of work.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *