Biblical Purpose of Work

 As servants of Christ, we are called to offer God our professional time. To truly understand how to provide your work-time to God, you need to understand the biblical purpose of your work. The intrinsic purposes for work include working to give, working to grow, and working to guide.  

We talked about significance versus success in an earlier chapter. When you see your work as sacred, the goal shifts from finding importance rather than purpose. In finding meaning, you work to give. What can you give of yourself to your workplace? How can you add value to the life of the people around you? 

Joseph was placed in the palace to give advice. His wisdom saves Egypt from the famine. The best jobs allow you to provide the best of you. The best jobs will enable you to express yourself. You experience job satisfaction. 

Wherever you are, you must seek to give value to the industry you are in. When you are giving an expression of your highest, most creative, and intelligent faculties, then you are contributing to your workplace. No matter your position in your office, if you are giving your best, you are offering something valuable—something that God will find pleasure in. Your offering is a heart issue, more than a position issue.  

Growth and Giving

Some jobs are about your growth and not only about giving.  How many of you reading this hate your job right now? It will be difficult to hate your job once you have made your shift from sacred to secular, wouldn’t it? However, how many of you hated your job before you made that shift? 

Before God sent Moses to rescue Israel from slavery, Egyptians enslaved them. For four hundred years, they were very bitter. What was the picture? The children of Israel were crying from the bitterness of their work. When Moses came to deliver God’s message, the Pharaoh made it worse. He must have said, “Now you’re going to make bricks without straw, just because someone is around you talking about freedom.  Now I’m going to show you who’s in charge. You’re going to make bricks without straw.”  

Although not literally, the picture of the Israelite suffering can be related to how we suffered in our jobs. It was mental and physical exhaustion. Most people feel like they are trapped in this secular job. It felt as if we were limited and insignificant. 

But here’s what God said to them.  “When you come out, you will come out with great riches.  I will bring you out with great riches.”  And I know what most of us think that means.  We think it means it’s because they borrowed jewels from their Egyptian neighbors, and they took the jewels into the wilderness. If that’s how we are interpreting this Scripture, then we have missed the point.  The riches they came out with were the knowledge and the skillset for building an empire of their own.    

Building Skills

You see, what the Pharaoh did not realize is that he had inadvertently taught the art of mason building because they built his treasure cities. So while the Israelites were working at a job, they hated, they were learning a skill set that they could take into a job they would love.  So when you are in a toxic working environment that you’re hating, it’s not about, “God, get me out of here!” Instead, it is about “God, what can I learn here because I’m growing in this environment.” 

When you look at this job, you cannot help but hate and think about God’s purpose. What is the Boss’ purpose? Why am I here? Think about this: “I’m not going to be here the rest of my life. I am here for the learning, not the earning, but the transferrable skills.” 

What came out of Egypt was not a set of enslaved people but a skilled workforce, a task force who had been trained indirectly in the art of mason building.  The issue is that you can take the skills sets from this job into another career venture.  Sometimes, the purpose of the work is just for growth.   

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Redemption of the Work Life

When you look at your work, you should think: “It’s not my secular work. It’s a sacred calling.” When we realize this and take this to the core of our being, we redeem our time. If, in the past, we considered our work secular and somehow we have been deceived that it is not under God, making a shift in our perspective redeems our work life. Making a shift creates an opening wherein our work life is redeemed.  

When you redeem your time, you re-label your time. 

The word “redeem” means to purchase or to buyback. “Redeem” comes from two English words. “Re” means “do again” while “Deem” means to label.” For example, if you deem something worthy, you label something according to its worth. When you consider an object, you frame it. When you see consider something, you put a name on it. You give it a new identity. Thus, when you redeem your time, you re-label your time.  

How much time are you re-labeling to be “sacred”? We are talking about a whole third of your life. How many hours have you been driving the bus? Have you been pushing paperwork for hours? Perhaps, you’re a teacher and spend a good four to six hours teaching students. As a chef, how long do you spend each day in the kitchen? Work usually averages eight hours a week, five days a week. This is about 160 hours each month that you are re-labeling.    

What would the Devil want you to do with these 160 hours? To call these 160 hours a month a drag will be to call a significant period of your life to be a drag.  When you redeem your time, you dedicate it as ministry time. You begin to see how you are a minister in the marketplace for 40 hours a week or 160 hours in a month. 

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Your Covenant is Your Calling

“Every day is important for us because it is a day ordained by God. If we are bored with life there is something wrong with our concept of God and His involvement in our daily lives. Even the most dull and tedious days of our lives are ordained by God and ought to be used by us to glorify Him.” 

Jerry Bridges

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.

Proverbs 12:11

A Covenant with God 

The faithful career covenant begins when you regard your job as sacred rather than secular. Our covenant with God is to complete our Career Mandate. A covenant is not the same as a contract. People usually establish contracts between two parties to release the other party from obligation if the other party violates the agreed-upon terms. When it comes to a covenant, however, both parties are expected to continue with their roles, regardless of whether the other person follows through or not. When it comes to a covenant with God, He is a perfect and faithful God. We are frequently the only ones who fail to do our part. Nonetheless, we can be confident because God is eternally faithful.

God designed you precisely the way you are for His purposes. 

Once you’ve bridged the sacred-secular divide, you’ll realize that a covenant is an agreement with God regarding using your time and gifts, even while you’re at work. You will also reach a deal with God regarding using your compensations, including your monetary rewards. When you make Jesus the Lord of your life, you give Him control over every aspect of your life, including how you manage your finances and set your desires, dreams, and goals.

God has a grand design for your life. It will be beyond anything you could ever hope for or imagine. God has already given you hints as to what this fantastic plan entails. Just consider your talents, interests, and desires to get a sense of where God wants you to be. God created you exactly as you are for His purposes. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose,” Paul said (Romans 8:28).

He has placed you exactly where you are. God can use you mightily for His purposes if you are willing and available. If you commit your success to further God’s plan, you have entered into a career covenant with Him. With a covenant with God, you can fully expect to see His divine power flowing through your profession and His supernatural assistance flowing to bring you your dreams. Are you looking forward to it?

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Your Work is Your Worship

Your job is a way for you to show your love for God. You have been influenced by the way people used to worship. From the Davidic tradition, we get our idea of what worship is. She was singing a song of praise to the Lord. In the past, work was the main way to show your faith. King David used the expression “celebration” when he was worshipping God. Clap your hands, shout, praise him with high cymbals, and dance to show how much you love him. Music is just one way to show your faith.

If you think about this, Abraham didn’t do that, and he didn’t know anything about that. He never told his family, “Come together and raise your hands right now,” so we don’t know what he said.

Not at all. Abraham didn’t do any of that at all. In your Bible, there is a progression of ways to show how much you love God. People worshipped the patriarchs by giving gifts to their families’ altars. Moses set up a system for worship called the Levitical system, which focused on sacrifices instead of celebrations as a way to show God how much they cared. David made a sacrifice and added the element of celebration to his life, which made it even better. In the new covenant, we worship David because we see the tabernacle of David being built at this time, so we do so.

Once you’re doing it for God, it’s an act of worship and therefore it’s no longer secular. 

The worship style we have adapted is very celebratory.  However, the word “worship” doesn’t mean lift your hands and sing.  The word “worship” comes from an old English word, weorthscipe. The original act of worship occurs when you give something to God as an expression of gratitude and you give it to him as a reflection of His worth to you. Abel gave an offering and it was acceptable. Cain gave one and it wasn’t, because it was a statement of his worth.  It’s a gift.  

Your offering is your worship. An offering does not necessarily mean you only give in monetary value. If you give God a piece of your time, it is considered as an offering. When everything you do in your work is your offering to the Lord, then this is your worship. Then, your work becomes sacred. Once you’re doing it for God, it’s an act of worship and therefore it’s no longer secular. 

It is up to you whether you turn something into a secular or a spiritual act 

It is up to you whether you turn something into a secular or a spiritual act. You can worship from nine to five with your job every day. When Abraham said, “I’m going to worship,” when he went up Mount Moriah, he did not mean he was going to sing songs of praise on top of the mountain. He was going to sacrifice his son. He meant he was going to take the best of what he had and give it up to God, as an expression of His worth to him.  

What is the best part of who you are? There is a lot. This includes your time, your talents, and your treasure. What can you offer God? It does not have to be directly related to church ministry, but as long as you do it for God, it is an act of worship. It is sacred.  

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Success vs. Significance

Secular Industry and Success

If you work in a secular industry, you tend to look for success. However, when you know you are doing something sacred, you intend to experience significance. When we perceive our work to be sacred, we begin to look for how we are going to be significant rather than how we will be successful. These two things are very different. Most of us spend our lives thinking that we work for a living.

However, the Bible tells us, “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). You’re not called to work for a living. You are called to work for the sake of giving.

Significance and Mindset

Significance is determined by what we can give of ourselves. Our service determines significance. In the secular frame, I’m working to become successful, but success is like a bucket, while significance is a conduit or a pipe. Like a bucket, you want to be filled up. You cry out, “Fill my cup, Lord.” I’m full, I have arrived, I’ve achieved. ”

However, just like any bucket that gets filled up, there’s only so much that you can take because you’re a bucket. On the other hand, there is no limit to how much you can let flow through you when you are a conduit or a pipe. Like a pipe, good things can flow through you.

As you think about being significant, you have moved away from the mindset of the infancy of success, which typically means having enough money to live the lifestyle you dream about—your way of thinking shifts. You say to yourself, “I do not need just enough to make my dreams come true. I need even more money than that.

Because I also want to help other people live lifestyles that they dream about. You will see yourself desiring to be significant rather than just successful. Success is very inward-focused, and significance is very outward-focused. When you start thinking of a sacred calling, he will call you to do something out there. If you’re in business, why are you in business?

Profit and a Secular Mindset

If you are in a secular mindset, you have a business to make profits from. Let me give you something to think about. The size of your goal will determine your level of creativity. Your mind will never release any more creativity than your goal demands. If you are trying to find the money to pay the rent, then that’s how much imagination will flow through your mind. You’re going to find a way to pay the rent. But if you’re trying to find the money to buy the property outright, another level of creativity will come into play.

If your goal is to make a profit in a business, then a certain level of creativity will kick in. But if your goal is to be a philanthropist, you are now thinking about more than just how much money you can make. You begin to think about how much money you can give away and still be comfortable. It’s a higher goal, and higher levels of creativity come into play. It’s the shift from income to influence.

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Why We Want Secularism to be a Fact, Rather than a Myth

The Secularism Idea is Toxic

Do you know why we struggle with this principle? We work to believe that secularism is a myth because we despise our workplace. It is entirely toxic. Our coworkers irritate us. Sometimes we think that the devil completely possesses them. We hate the boss. He is frequently portrayed as an anti-Christ.

We see our work as a dead end because we are overworked, underpaid, unrecognized, and lacking in opportunity. Unfortunately, we perceive our work to be a constraint. Moreover, see it as a limit.

If you work for men, your resentment of your workplace is understandable. However, everything changes once you realize that God is your ultimate boss and that He hired you through men. When you shift your focus from your earthly boss to your Ultimate Boss in heaven, you will realize that God can determine how far and how high you can go. Because your career is ultimately working for God, God will be the one who decides what your next career move will be. As a result, you must make the necessary changes.

Roles are God-appointed

Many people mistake assuming that a role in society is less sacred than a role in the church. When you do not consider your work sacred, it becomes non-sacred. You will react to it in a non-sacred manner.

Neo-psychologists have studied the fort and language patterns of those who rise above poverty, class and race discrimination, exploitation, and a failing economy to achieve professional goals or become financially independent. Their conclusions are heavily influenced by a person’s belief in who has the final say. Those who believe they can and those who think they can’t usually are both correct. Individuals must decide what, if anything, controls the outcome of their lives. Is it external or internal forces? Identifying the forces you are allowing to control your life will determine how you live your life.

Shift the Locus of Control

Shifting the locus of control puts the power back in your hands and forces your mind to look for a way out. The fountain of creativity and innovation is unblocked, and a new wave of energy fills your body. The desire to live in the appetite for life then fills your imagination with all sorts of future possibilities. Some refer to this as false hope or living in fantasy land. However, for those who have experienced a shift in the locus of control, it has become the driving force behind their new lease on life.

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Shifting from Secular to the Sacred

Secular vs. Sacred Things

The secular or sacred nature of an object, person, or event is determined by your perspective on it. The terms “secular” and “sacred” are merely descriptors. Language has enormous power. Labels can influence how you react to an object, person, or event. You can change your perspective on things that you previously considered secular and see them as sacred.

Most of you who consider your work entirely unrelated for church work consider your Monday-Friday activities secular. You refer to it as “secular” work. However, when you volunteer for the church, whether as an usher or a Sunday school teacher, you think to yourself, “Now, this is my sacred work.”

We usually consider these jobs, such as bus driver or janitor, to be secular. “I’m driving a bus, what kind of job is that?” you think. I urge you to make a change. As I previously stated, it is a psychological and a linguistic shift. You can affect a linguistic change by referring to your job as a “sacred calling” rather than a “secular job.”

A Sacred Calling?

A psychological shift occurs when you start referring to your job as a “sacred calling,” a psychological shift occurs. It is more than just something you do to make a living or meet ends. You gain a sense of your life’s God-given purpose.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8) 

A Secular Job for the Believer?

There is no such thing as a secular job for a believer. Years ago, there was such The verse above sparked debate because it was interpreted to support the slave trade. We can, however, understand the nature of Paul’s culture at the time it was written. You must know that employment in the ancient world was primarily of the slave/master variety. In today’s context, we would read this verse as follows: “Employees, be obedient to your employers according to the flesh.”

The verse is about employees and their bosses. The Old English translation is trembling. Today’s jargon simply means treating your employees as you treat your superiors.

The verse said not to serve “with eyeservice, as men-pleasers.” The term “eyeservice” refers to only performing well when they expect it or when you know a review is coming. Instead, you must perform well even if no recognition or compensation is promised. Because at the end of the day, you work for Christ, not your boss, who can only evaluate your performance. God knows what you do in secret. Lastly, you work for the Boss.

Who’s Your Boss?

The Word of God says that when you work for an earthly boss, act as if you are doing God’s will. As if you were serving Christ, do it. You are expected to carry out your “secular” duties as if you were working for God. Everything you do for God is considered sacred.

The bus driver is probably scratching his head. What does God’s will have to do with me driving a bus? When and where did God’s plan board the bus? However, the passage instructs you to drive the bus as if you were driving it for God.

The secular world’s myth is that you must always do everything for God. Secularism is anything you do that is not for the Lord. But you must make everything about God, not men.

Back to the bus driver. It’s not about the passengers, nor the bus company. Moreover, it’s not about the bosses. In the end, it’s all about God. To please God, you serve the passengers, bus companies, and bosses like God. Human beings will not reward man. God will reward us all.

There is no secular job for a Christian because Christ’s redemption has fully paid for you. When we say ultimately, we mean in every way. You are now his. Work for God alone, not for men. If you don’t think like this, you disrespect God rather than your earthly boss.

“This is not secular work; this is a sacred calling,” you may think as you work. When you relabel something, you start thinking about it differently, and new creative energy flows into it.

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It’s Unnatural to Not Work

“Idle Hands”

It is completely unnatural to be unable to work for an extended period of time. It’s abominable. It’s ungodly, and there’s no excuse—even in the context of an economy that doesn’t create jobs. Get up and get to work. If necessary, volunteer. Make use of your free time. The concept of unemployment was so foreign to the disciples’ culture that a rumour spread that there were brethren in the church who were not working at all. Instead, they were agitators.

We must be freed from the spirit of the busybodies. The devil assigns work to idle hands. He places thoughts in the minds of those who are idle. He puts words in the mouths of those who are idle. If you don’t have a mission when you wake up in the morning, he’ll fill your mind with mischief.

How Long Have You Been Idle?

When you have too much time on your hands, it is not the Sabbath. The adversary can steal this time and use it to his advantage. Consider the gossipers you know. “Why do you have so much time to gossip about everyone else?” you ask.

It’s your harried self. Your mind is full of mischief because it is idle and devoid of mission. Is there anything else to think about? “I’m not done yet.” But you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good, and if any man does not obey our word by this epistle, take note of him and avoid company with him so that he may be ashamed.”

You go up to that brother and ask him, “How are you doing?” How are you, bro? So, what are you going to do?” He could say, “Nothing.” “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” the Bible says.

“Brother, man, come here. Listen. It’s not right. You are made in God’s image and likeness. You have limitless creative potential within you. I know they aren’t going to give you a job, but you can create one. Do something, volunteer. Don’t be in bed at 9:00 a.m. when everyone else is up at 7:00 a.m. Brother, get up and go to work. Come on, clean up. “Repair yourself, brother.”

Don’t point fingers at the government. Don’t point fingers at the economy. I assure you that the government will not prevent you from working. They may not pay you for it, but remember that your career calling is about working for God and seeking God’s reward, not the government or the economy.

One of the most effective job-search strategies right now is to offer your services for free for a limited time. Adding value to the system is the most effective way to discover your Career Mandate.

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Work is the Premise of the Sabbath

Sabbath is Sacred but Temporary

Let us balance this out. Sabbath is important. Sabbath is sacred to the Lord. However, Sabbath was not intended to be a permanent state. Some of us have been taking Sabbaths without going to work. This is not natural behavior. We were not designed this way.  

We have been so focused on the Sabbath as a religious event that we have failed to connect it with the rest of the six days. The Sabbath is a part of the week of the Lord. The week of the Lord is about the work He wants for us to do. You can have something that you are working on, in, or through for six days of your life.  

According to the ministry He has placed you in, you are supposed to be working for the Lord for six days. The ministry He has placed you in occurs in your workplace. The work you do six days a week justifies the Sabbaths in your life. 

What if God didn’t do any work on the first day through the sixth day and then said, “The seventh is a Sabbath.” However, other people try to work through the seventh. Entrepreneurs tend to work on things. Employees tend to work on things. Homemakers and people working in the domestic tend to be working through things. You get tired of just working monotonously at the same thing because you have failed to complete the Career Mandate by stopping to rest and review the work that you have done. 

Work is not what is causing you to experience fatigue. What you’re working on, what you’re working with, what you’re working through, and what you’re working in that’s frustrating you. If the environment changes, you would love creating because it is part of your innate nature.  

We need to feel productive.

Imagine this scenario. You take time off to go to the beach for a vacation. When you get there, you lay down on the first day to relax. After a while, you get a tan from the sun.

On the second day, you do the same thing again and get tanner. On the third day, you bring a book or your iPod with you thinking, “I’ve got to listen to something because I’m just lying here, and I’m browning off now.” 

Has anyone ever been in this situation before? “I’m browning off. Now, I can do something. So, I’m going to lie here, and then I’m going to get up, and I’m going to go for a dip, and then I’m going to come back. Let’s go down the road. Let’s go and see whatever else is there to do.” In this vacation, you feel the urge to do something. You cannot just lie around on the sand doing nothing.  

Work is the premise of the Sabbath, isn’t it?  Isn’t the Sabbath more meaningful because you did your work?  The Sabbath becomes a great time because you have made yourself productive all-week round. 

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Sabbath

insider

The Favor Upon God’s Insider

The Favor Upon God’s Insider

The Insider works six days a week and is the most well-liked and accomplished group member. The fact that you are taking this stance allows your coworkers to investigate and learn more about what makes you so favored. This creates a window of opportunity for influence.

According to the principle God has laid out for you here, you are required to work on, in, or through things for six days. On the seventh day, you take the opportunity to rest, recover, and review your progress. Recuperation is an essential component of the work experience. People who don’t take time to rest become exhausted. The length of your sabbatical can range from one day to a week and even up to a month. There may even be a sabbatical year in your life, but the most important thing is to take time to step back and recharge your batteries.

We have constructed an entire religion around the seventh. When we look at it, we see it as a religious tradition, according to which you should not work on Saturday and Sunday. When, in reality, according to the Career Mandate, Sabbath is a necessary part of your job duties, you should take it. This is the part of your job where you take a step back and relax a little. Because rest is an integral part of one’s work, it can be considered a religious act and a work-related activity. The fact that you can rest indicates that you have faith in God enough to follow His commandment.

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insider

Shabbat

“Shabbat”

“Shabbat”

You are required to have a career. “Shabbat” is the Hebrew word for the Sabbath. Where did the Sabbath start? It did not begin when the Lord passed down the Law to Moses. No, it started right there in Creation. When God chose to create the world the way He did, He was creating a model. In six days, He made everything, and on the seventh, He rested. Having said that, God already presented a model for our Career Mandates, wherein the Sabbath is a significant part of the process.  

The Sabbath is not a ritual. Moreover, it is not a traditional practice. The Sabbath is a spiritual law. Furthermore, it is a principle. Moreover, it is not how you religiously observe the Sabbath. It is why you do it. Why do we keep the Sabbath? 

Keeping the Sabbath is Our Obedience to God

We keep the Sabbath to obey God. We support the Sabbath holy to show Him that we work because of Him and for Him. Moreover, we keep the Sabbath holy to create an opening for people to see that God gives us the grace to get things done even when we do not work seven days a week. God gives us the grace to be productive in the six days allotted for work.  

People cannot accomplish all the tasks they can do in seven days. How can you, who only works six days a week, be able to do it excellently? Your officemate will wonder, “I’m here 24/7, working until my back breaks, but you only work 5-6 days a week, but you are the one who gets promoted! How does that make sense?”  

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Shabbat

Your Commitment To Your Mandate

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 

Maya Angelou 

Power Truth 

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. 

Leviticus 23:3 

Have you ever heard of people saying, “You know what, I’m waiting, Bishop. When I find out what my ministry is, that’s when I’m going to give it 100%”. You will find your ultimate ministry in life as you serve, not as you wait. As you serve the church, as you serve your workplace, as you serve your family, you will see what you are good at. You will recognize your gifts and your passion. You won’t see it, sitting on the couch all day, waiting for the Lord to reveal it to you. 

Personal Application 

  1. What is keeping you from worshipping God with your work? 
  2. How can you make your work your worship? 
  3. Have you discovered your faithful ministry in life? If so, what is it? 

Points to Ponder on 

  • Each one of us has a career mandate.  
  • God assigned Adam his “Career Mandate,” Adam worshiped God through his obedience. 
  • It is unnatural to have no work.  
  • The job of pastors is only to equip every believer to conquer the field or industry they are assigned to be Insiders in.  
  • Ministry is service. Your work is your service.  

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