Monday, September 17, 2012

Working As To Christ

Working As To Christ


Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” – Ephesians 6:5-8

If I said “Ephesians 6” to you, you’d probably remember the chapter most by the verses regarding what we call the Armor of God.  These are verses 10-20.  But before Paul explains how to conquer the spiritual battles we face each day, he gives us some rules on how to live with those that are closest to us.
He first tells children to honor and obey their parents.  Then he turns his direction to fathers, telling them not to provoke their children to wrath, and to raise them in God’s will.  Then he turns to the “bondservant” or employee, telling him how to work as if he was working for God and not man.  And lastly, he tells the “master” or employer to do the same with the employee, treating him as if he were doing a service to God.  In fact, most of his time is spent on talking about the employee/employer relationship.

It’s not without purpose that these verses appear before the “Armor of God” verses.  We rarely have problems with strangers that would cause us to feel the pain and burden of battle.  It’s those closes to us – our children, our parents, our employer, our coworkers, our managers – that we have to deal with.  Knowing what is expected by God in these relationships and acting accordingly will reduce the number of battles in which we are engaged.  Some battles we start ourselves.  But if we were all living with an understanding of how these relationships were to be handled, the battles would cease!  I believe that’s why Paul starts the armor of God with the word “Finally”.  He says “Finally” after explaining how to deal with our daily relationships as a last recourse, as to explain that if you’ve done everything else, and a spiritual battle breaks out, then here’s how to fight.  But it’s far easier to live in peace, than to fight.

Today is Monday.  Most of us are getting up and getting ready to face a day at work.  I think the words given in Ephesians 6 regarding our work relationships are of most value to us today.  How much better the week can go if we just react to our jobs as we should. 
Paul tells us to be obedient to our employers.  We were all hired to do a specific thing.  That job description is our command from our employer.  We must do it, and do it as if we were working for Christ himself. It should be done with diligence, working in a way that brings us pride in what we’re doing. He also tells us to do it with “goodwill”.  That means that with each new request we don’t whoop out a copy of our job description and check to be sure that new request is on there!  If you can do the job in front of you – do it.  And do it with an attitude of thanksgiving, as if Christ had commanded you to do it.  

Paul also says to work with “fear and trembling”.  That doesn’t mean to react as if your employer was an evil dictator and hide behind your chair in fear when they appear!  This kind of fear and trembling is with respect.  That means we don’t talk about them behind their backs.  You want to create an atmosphere that is hard to work in?  Start by being a disgruntled employee and spreading bad morale throughout the organization.  The stress you may feel will be multiplied upon everyone that listens to you, and soon every minute of the day will be filled with ill will towards each other, stress in the workplace, and eventually you’ll dread coming to work.  Don’t open the Pandora’s Box of disrespecting your employer! You won’t like what you find. 

He also says to work with sincerity of heart, and not just giving eye-service.  When the boss isn’t watching, are you on Facebook?  Are you taking yet another coffee break, checking your phone, reading a book, doing things you’re not being paid to do?  Theft comes in many forms.  Being paid to do work that you’re not doing, that’s also theft.  Idleness on the job is theft.

Over the almost 20 years I’ve worked as a consultant I’ve had the pleasure of being in and out of probably over 100 businesses.  The ones that are good environments to work in are consistently those where the employee does their job, and the employer is respected.  Truly, that is all it takes.   Yes, you can get a “bad apple” once in a while, but without an audience that person is soon going to find that their ill will toward their coworkers or boss isn’t accepted behavior.  You want to shut up a gossiper?  Treat them like a TV, and just change the channel! 
We’re at work 40+ hours a week.  How effective our ability to witness and walk with Christ is depends greatly on how we handle those 40+ hours.  But if you start each day off with a promise to yourself and Christ that on THIS DAY you will live for Him ALL DAY, you’ll find that your life becomes sweet – and so will your workplace. 

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