How Can We Glorify God in Our Work?
Oftentimes September can feel much like January as we prepare for a ‘new year.’ We set new goals, dream new dreams, hold new hopes, and find ourselves saying things like, “this will be the year I get organized” or “this will be my year where I perfect time management.” The reality is that while the idea of a new beginning can be encouraging and aid us in the ways we aim to grow, ultimately, we often abandon these resolutions and continue to be as we are. However, this is not a bad thing—speaking subjectively, I’m not an advocate for resolutions. Rather than setting our standards based on the ‘ideals’ we have for ourselves, what I believe is more important is focusing on how we glorify God in our work and its ethic. Glorifying God in our work isn’t one thing we can do systematically rather, it’s an outcome of the choices we make concerning our actions, which in itself speaks a volume that is louder than the things we do: it is who we are as followers of Christ.
As followers of Christ, our relationship with God deeply impacts our work. The decisions we make surrounding the work we do are not purposeless, they are acts of stewardship—stewarding appropriately the things God has assigned us responsibility for. Thus, when we realize all of this, the way we make decisions, even down to the very practical things, changes as it has to do with our hearts much more than we ever thought. Here, in the remaining characters, I’ll go into more depth about three of the most significant practical ways that we can glorify God in our work.
The first element of our work through which we can glorify God is our organization. We can consider it fact that we work better when we have some degree of organization behind us. Maintaining organization need not be an overwhelming, tedious thing that requires our ever-constant monitoring comprised of list-making and agenda-scribing, as many may think. In fact, once we get organized and stay organized, we’re often quick to see the fruit of it in our work environments. Some effective and efficient ways of establishing and maintaining organization include:
Keeping all of your contacts in a contact list, address book, or spreadsheet. You’ll thank yourself later that you took the couple minutes to save the contact that shows up in your phone as ‘Maybe: Brian.’
Backing up your files regularly. The things you work on are valuable and likely, there’ll come a point where you’ll need to refer to them. There exists a level of neglect when one does not back up their files. While the idea of it may sound taxing, it’s as simple as saving your items onto a hard drive, USB, or online internal storage site such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
Respond to emails in a timely manner. This is a topic that in itself could be covered in an entire article but for now, reply to your emails. I fall short of this much of the time but the relief of completing the task rather than procrastinating is far greater than the temporary relief that comes with the decision to ‘do it later.’
Keep track of your schedule by using a planner. Again, I have fallen short plenty of times by purchasing an agenda, using it for a month or two, then falling out of schedule with it and closing it for the rest of the year. I’m the first to admit that keeping an agenda isn’t some people’s idea of fun or fulfillment. If that’s you, too, try using a monthly planner rather than a daily or weekly agenda. A monthly planner will help you visualize your plans with the context of time in between those things. Even if you are inclined to orient yourself to the world with a more perceiving function than that of a judging one, some external structure can feel natural and harmonize the way you make decisions concerning your work. Each of these simple things contribute to the responsibility with which we treat the work we’ve been entrusted to do by God.
The second element of our work that can give glory to God is our time. Similarly, time is a topic that can be covered in extensive length and deserves more attention than this article, though I’ll attempt to do it some justice here with concision in mind. Our society raises us to believe that we’re constantly racing against time. However, typical to His nature, God defies this. Through Scripture, God demonstrates to us time and again that we’re to operate from a place of rest and not rush. He commands us to complete our work in six days, not the seven we have. Thus, time becomes a concern having less to do with racing against its every second and more to do with managing it well to complete our work in the amount of time we’re given. Effective management includes setting realistic goals pertaining to time, and saying yes and no more intentionally in order to steward our time according to our responsibilities. While holding such a disposition towards time may feel countercultural, it glorifies God by showing that we trust what He says as opposed to what society says and walking that out in a Christ-like way.
In addition to organization and time, the last way in which we can glorify God through our work is in our attitude towards it. Scripture tells us we are to work “with all [our] heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23) and to “do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14-16). We are called to honour the Lord through our work and to have a strong work ethic; this means that we are encouraged to work hard and to do more than just the bare minimum. We are to take chances and do things that may feel uncomfortable at first. In the Book of Haggai, the narrator tells the story of the people of Jerusalem rebuilding the temple through the oracles of Haggai. The people of Israel are reluctant to rebuild the temple right away and instead, busy themselves doing other things at which point the Lord says, “build the house, that I may take great pleasure in it and that I may be glorified” (Haggai 1:8); He reinforces this by telling the people [through Haggai], “I am with you” (Haggai 1:13) and again, “work, for I am with you” (Haggai 2:4). In this story, we resemble the people of Israel wherein building the house represents us doing the work we are hesitant to do, the work we put off, the work we are called to do but in the reality of our shortcomings, neglect. Like the people of Israel, we must remember that we work from God’s strength by the Spirit of God that dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). We must believe that God has, is, and will continue to equip us to do the task that we’ve been entrusted with doing. What does the temple that needs building represent in your circumstances today? What is your disposition towards it? Much the same as the people of Israel, if God has called you to it and is entrusting you with it, be encouraged that He is with you.
What is common among your organization, your management of time, and your attitude towards work is that they all affect how you do the work. Working is not about our personal achievements, rather it is about trusting God, relying on God, and honouring God as we do it, and resultantly giving Him the glory. As followers of Christ, when we work for the Lord, it is a matter of lifting His name and not our own.