Remembering WHO you work for changes the WAY you work. to remember and value why you married your spouse will help you enjoy the friendship your marriage is built on.
Years ago, I had lunch with a colleague who made a simple comment that helped remind me who I’m really working for when I head into the office.
At the time, my wife and I were expecting our second child, navigating the ups and downs of early career, and learning what it meant to be a Christian in my professional life. What did it really mean to live as a Christian at work? I constantly heard sermons and lessons encouraging believers to be bold in their faith, but I felt like there was a gap in my understanding between hearing Sunday’s lesson and living it out Monday morning.
For me, I constantly struggled with the “how” aspect of those callings. Working with engineers in my professional capacity, I was surrounded everyday with people who did nothing other than create solutions to problems that confronted them with their own two hands. So, it was always tempting to try and take credit for creating my own path forward in life, whether it was at work or at home.
However, I knew and believed from reading scripture, that God, through His grace and mercy, was the one who truly provided for my needs and the needs of my family.
Proverbs 16:1–3 (ESV) says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
While it seemed like the prevailing wisdom of those around me screaming “plan your own path,” I continued to seek the Lord and His will for my life. I knew that God was who I was truly working for, and His word affirmed this belief. This led me to lunch with my colleague one afternoon while I was visiting with him at an out-of-town office.
As we sat down, seemingly out of nowhere, he blurted, “Michael, you seem to have it all together. You’re doing well at work and your family is amazing. I don’t know how you do it.”
Immediately, without hesitation, I replied, “Thanks, but I can guarantee you that it’s not anything that I’m doing. It’s only because of my faith in Jesus and His leading that I’m able to do what I do. While I report to our boss here in the company, I work like God is my boss – because He is.”
This conversation was a turning point in my early career, as I became acutely aware that people were looking for hope, and that it was all too easy to put that hope in ourselves or others. Even more so, as an employee, the temptation can be even more acute as we are often tempted to perform and work for more money, titles, and prestige.
Here are some practical steps I practice as I am working for the Lord:
- Working for God does not mean being perfect. Human perfection (that is, the desire to appear to be without flaw) is an outwardly focused activity, with the express aim of seeking approval of those around us. Excellence on the other hand is rooted by an inwardly motivation. For the Christian, that means being motivated to give God the best of our ability as He has gifted us.
- When conducting your daily tasks – whether it be a presentation or penning a letter – aim to complete the work as if God is the recipient.
- Examples of excellence include being determined not to take shortcuts, adequate planning and preparation, and treating the tasks at hand with diligence and a high degree of accountability.
- Recognize that when we perform our work with excellence, with God as our only audience, we are allowing our work product to be credited not to ourselves, but rather to God. For the Christian, God and God alone is the source of our gifts and talents that allow us to work. So when compliments come in, prayerfully consider ways you can raise conversational “faith flags” that let others know that the excellence they see in your work is God-focused and not self-centered.
If you are a Christian, my encouragement is to remember that you aren’t working for the approval of man. While we are indeed called in Romans 13 to submit ourselves to the authority God has placed over us, we must remember that we are not seeking the approval of those around us, but rather the approval of God. That means working as if God is our boss – because He is. While that may sound somewhat simplistic and something you’d hear in Sunday school, it is a reminder that we all need to take to heart.
Finally, if you are not a believer in Christ, let me encourage you to consider making Christ the boss of your life. Whether you are a successful CEO or just starting your first job, God has a plan for your life and wants to enter into a relationship with you. All that requires is a step of faith through admitting that you are a sinner, believing that Jesus came and died for our sins and rose again, and confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
When you work for Christ, you find that even mundane tasks take on new meaning. While working on a spreadsheet may not sound riveting, knowing that my work is an act of worship for the Lord completely changes the way you approach work.
So the next time someone asks you, “who’s your boss?” you might simply answer, “On Earth or in Heaven?”
Currently residing in Cypress, Texas, Michael Gaines is a professional communicator, speaker and podcaster, with a majority of his experience resulting from leading large-scale domestic and international communications strategies, both internally and externally, for Fortune 500 energy sector companies.