Tag Archives: Colossians 3:23

Work Ethic: Character and Perspective Part I

15 Aug

“Work Ethic”. You’ve probably heard the term before. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation… the principles of conduct governing an individual.” In other words, you may say, “A day’s work for a day’s pay,” but if you slack off every time the boss isn’t watching it will quickly become clear that this isn’t your ethic.

A good work ethic is more than words; it’s a character trait. Who you are when no one is looking matters. Setting the dictionary aside, you might define a good work ethic as, “Knowing what is right and doing it, even when you don’t feel like it.” Since you’re probably used to doing this with at least a few things in your every-day life (like taking out the trash, finishing an assignment for school or work, or paying your utility bill), it shouldn’t be hard to transfer the principle over to your paying job. At least, theoretically.

You see, a good work ethic isn’t just about our action, but about our attitudes. The question isn’t just, “Do you take out the trash each week,” but “Do you take out the trash without grumbling and complaining.” Most of us will recall that in Colossians 3:23 we are told to, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” This command is easy to remember and act upon when your work environment is a pleasant one, but much less so when the task or the person(s) for whom you are performing it are not.

While our attitudes govern our actions, it is our perspective which governs our attitudes. The result is that forming a proper perspective is the ultimate key to a good work ethic. The Apostle Paul recognized this, declaring in Philippians 4:12,13 that, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” He understood that contentment in his line of work was not the result of an individual situation, but of how he viewed that situation. And this godly perspective gave him the ability to perform at his best even in the worst of circumstances.

We see this particular perspective prominently displayed in the story of Jacob. According to Genesis 29:20, “Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” While Laban’s goal was to use Jacob for his own personal gain, Jacob was able to see past this own frustration by focusing on his own long-term goal and not on his immediate situation.

You might call this “big-picture thinking.” It’s what happens when you recognize important factors like that work is only a small portion of your life and that it doesn’t have to influence you any further than the revolving doors leading into the parking lot. Like LasVegas, whatever happens here stays here… if you let it. And that requires a conscious, committed decision. (To be continued…)

The Two Minute Relationship: The Life of a Servant

25 May

Over the last few weeks, we’ve examined “What’s in a Name”, discussed the importance of taking the time to “Ask, Listen, and Observe”, and looked at the value of taking the time to “Relate” to those around us.  Before we dive into a discussion about how best to use these techniques as a springboard to a Gospel presentation, however, there is one more important element to discuss: the importance of living the life of a servant.

This falls into the silent witness category and, for many Christians, is the number one easiest way to begin a discussion.  While we can’t expect our actions alone to explain that Jesus saves, our actions can spark interest from the people around us.  And they may even cause them to ask us why we live the way we do!  Living the life of a servant isn’t always easy, so here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:

Don’t be in a hurry.  It can be easy to get so caught up in finishing our grocery shopping or getting to that hot rock concert that we miss opportunities to be a Biblical servant.  Always be ready and willing to help someone in need, whether it’s the lady with three kids and a cart full of groceries who just can’t quite lift that bag of dog food or the boss who is crunched for a deadline.

Yes, this means that we need to carefully evaluate our own commitments.  It’s wonderful to be regularly involved in the life of your congregation, but it’s also easy to become so involved that we spend more time doing things for God than being available for Him to work through us!  And the same goes for every one of our other commitments.  Whenever something other than God begins to take over our lives, we need to stop and reevaluate.  Keep your schedule free and flexible and see what wonders God will perform!

Don’t wait to be asked.  If you see someone struggling to meet a need and you have the time and means to help, then do!  A single act of unsolicited kindness may be enough to form a relationship with someone who has experienced very little kindness in their life.  And repeated acts of kindness can help soften even the hardest of hearts.

Always be ready.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  And Colossians 3:23 commands, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”  This may, perhaps, be the greatest witness of all.  Everything you do and every interest you have can bring glory to God, even if it does so indirectly.  No hobby, sport, club, association, or after school activity comes without opportunities to live a life of service towards others.

A friend of mine used to play his guitar in a bagel shop every Saturday.  I’m aware that some Christians would not have considered this appropriate since, for the hour that he was there, he never once sang a Gospel song.  The name of Christ never exited his mouth.  He could have been doing dozens of other things, but instead, he was serving others through his music. Afterwards, people would come up to him and ask him why he did what he did.  You can be sure that his answer was all about Jesus!

Not every interest or hobby we have is going to show a direct connection to sharing God’s message, but each one provides us with an opportunity to relate to our fellow human beings. Remember that God created you a unique person and your interests and skills give you an opportunity to reach out in service to those who otherwise might never see the Gospel message in action!

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