Once we change bosses [from men to Christ], we are to obey our earthly bosses “just as we would obey Christ” (Eph 6:5). Even though our tasks are dictated by others, we are to treat them as if they come directly from the throne of God. Then we become “like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from our heart” (Eph. 6:6). By viewing our tasks this way, several things happen.
1. We become wholehearted. Our two scriptures tell us to “serve wholeheartedly” (Eph. 6:7), working “with all our heart” (Col. 3:23). Wholehearted means our heart is not divided between the job at hand and our desire to do some other ministry work. Rather, the job at hand is our ministry work. Because it is really the Lord we are serving in our tasks, then it is impossible for us to be less than completely wholehearted.
2. We become extraordinarily committed and dedicated, “obeying in everything” (Col 3:22), because we know we’re serving the Lord. We serve without reservation or hesitation because “we are doing the express will of God” (Eph 6:6). Some ask me, “What if we are told to do something immoral?” Obviously, immoral tasks are not from God. We should discourage our bosses from immorality, and if they persist, we can simply refuse saying, “I can’t do this.”
Others ask me how to keep from being taken advantage of and run into the ground by an earthly boss. My first answer is that this truly is a radical lifestyle. Many situations that seem unjust must be endured and given to God to worry about. On the other hand, we must also defend family and other commitments God gives us. Sometimes we must refuse a boss’s demand that conflicts with something else of value in our lives. But before we refuse, we should diligently seek the Lord for His guidance in choosing between commitments. Years ago I worked for a very hard man. Every day I would ask the Lord if I could leave and find another job. I always felt the Lord say, “No, not yet.” Then one day the man exploded and threatened me in a fit of rage. After that I knew it was time to move on, and I did.
3. We will serve in reverence and the fear of the Lord. Our two scriptures instruct us to work in “reverence for the Lord” (Col. 3:22) and “with respect and fear” (Eph. 6:5).
This means having a deep-seated weightiness about our tasks because we know we are fulfilling a holy commission. For example, if an angel appeared to me and spoke to me about writing a new kind of computer code, it would produce in me fear of the Lord regarding my task. This is how seriously He takes your work and mine: He is commissioning it, He is entrusting us with it and He will examine it. The Lord has given us a holy commission, which we are privileged and honored to participate in – we have a responsibility to discharge our duty well. That sense of responsibility is the “fear of the Lord.” It means recognizing the responsibility we bear, and the incredible opportunity we have to co-labor with Him.
4. We will readily embrace even menial, distasteful and undesirable tasks, knowing they are from God. By doing jobs no one else wants, we can secretly rejoice, because it is an opportunity to serve God for love’s sake alone. “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position” (James 1:9).
I was leading a meeting at my business one morning, and I asked for a volunteer to carry the emergency pager. Nobody wanted the job because it meant responding to computer emergencies, usually in the middle of the night. As I scanned the room, everyone stared intently at the floor. Then one of my heroes raised his hand and said, “I’ll do it.” He was smiling. Everyone else in the room looked at him, mouths agape. Some understood, but plenty did not, that he was serving God in love.
At another time, late one Friday night after nearly everyone had gone home, our computer systems crashed in such a way that nearly all our customers were immediately affected. Our customer care call center was quickly overrun with calls. Phones started ringing throughout the building. One of our other heroes was just getting ready to leave, but instead he stayed nearly all night, then came in all weekend to field calls from angry customers. I learned about what he’d done on Monday at the “executive water cooler” from several of the executives who couldn’t contain their astonishment. This man was a fairly senior person in the company, the executive assistant of one the senior executives, and it was well known he was a dedicated family man.
Because our boss is the Lord and He sees everything, we will do everything well, even when no one is looking. We’ll pour our best work into even the small, unseen and hidden things, for our “Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward” us (Matt. 6:4).
After hearing one of my teaching tapes on this topic, one young man resigned his ministry position and took a job in a local restaurant as a server (I am not recommending this!). He began working as for the Lord. Within six weeks, he was chosen as server of the year. He commented privately to one of my friends, “I would die for Jesus as a server.”
When we treat our tasks as coming from the Lord, we become the best workers the planet has ever seen. We throw ourselves at our work without reservation or hesitation, because it is His will we’re doing. One time our company physically relocated our data center – a hugely complicated task fraught with risk. After it had been completed successfully, I heard (again, at the executive water-cooler) that one of my heroes, without being asked, had brought his sleeping bag into the data center and slept there several nights in case something went wrong. The executives were astonished and perplexed at what motivated this man.
Another company hero was famous for going the extra mile for customers. He would stay up all night if necessary to work with a customer. He astonished co-workers and bosses because there was simply no limit to what he would do for a customer. More astonishingly, he carried out every task with a smile, a belly-laugh and a good word, even when he was exhausted and under stress.
Another hero was known as the king of customer service. He was extremely meticulous in solving customer problems and wouldn’t stop until the problem was completely resolved in the customer’s eyes. To him, quality was everything because it was going to have God’s name on it, it had to be good. Many customers became so enamored of him they refused to be handled by anyone else. We ended up building our entire customer service department around this employee’s practices.
When we work as for the Lord, others may be threatened, or perceive our work ethic as “brown-nosing.” But at the same time it will perplex them, because it is clear we are not playing the political game and because there is an aroma of contentedness about us.
Written by Robert Fraser. Excerpted from Marketplace Christianity (New Grid Publishing). Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.