“God hates cheating in the marketplace; He loves it when business is aboveboard…..[i]”
“The one who stays on the job has food on the table; the witless chase whims and fancies…..[ii]”
“A lazy life is an empty life, but “early to rise” gets the job done….[iii]”
These are but a few practical titbits of wisdom provided in the Scriptures for the Christian worker or business person. Our God recognizes that we live in the world and need to earn a living herein. Consequently, He provides abundant counsel in His Word to help us survive, succeed, and excel in our work or business places.
Many Christians today lack wisdom on how to use the values of their faith successfully in the workplace. Many believe that life at work is separate from life in church. We put on one “cloak” when in church or when engaging in spiritual activities but wear a completely different one in our work or business places. By so doing we miss out on an important and fundamental aspect of our Christian faith, namely – we are called to be salt, light, and a blessing to our world[iv].
As ‘salt’, our Christ-cantered lives should add flavour to our workplaces. What a pleasure it is to walk into an office or a shop and be welcomed by a friendly, polite, and knowledgeable employee. What a pleasant surprise to find out that this worker offers such good quality service with no strings attached! What glory it brings to the Lord when such a person is one of His children, one who allows the fruit of the Spirit to flow through him to the world around.
As ‘light’ we bring solid Christian values into the darkness and corruption that pervades our world. We demonstrate virtues such as sincerity, truth, justice, and integrity in our daily tasks and interactions.
What a relief a student feels when she finds out that the results of her recent class test are a true reflection of each student’s ability. Her lecturer, a Christian man, is friendly, positive, and encouraging towards his students but never crosses the line; he does not sell question papers or demand inappropriate favours; moreover, he grades all students equitably. What an honour to the Lord that this lecturer, His son, upholds moral standards and ethics that are fit to serve as a light in his workplace.
As ‘blessings’, we bring relief to the difficulties in the world around us. Through our obedient and established relationships with God, we seek and receive spiritual breakthroughs that help our businesses and workplaces survive today’s harsh economic environment.
What a blessing it is when a project leader not only works diligently to ensure the success of his task, but also lays his project and team members in the hands of the Almighty, seeking His favour and blessings and invoking promises such as, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands … the Lord will …bless the work of your hands.[v]” What a blessing such holistic and caring leadership brings to an employer and fellow employees.
Often time we under-estimate the value a born-again Christian can bring to a workplace or business environment. We fail to recognize that the values required to build successful businesses (for example, excellence, integrity, loyalty, superior customer care, commitment to people, accountability, and more) are similar to the virtues the Holy Spirit inculcates in Christians as we mature in our relationship with God. When we follow God faithfully and wholly, we find that He builds in us, qualities that make us valuable assets to our workplaces, businesses and the world at large.
The Bible tells the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, who engineered and managed a national food distribution program right after spending several years in jail. Have you ever wondered where Joseph received training for such an endeavour, considering he spent most of his growing years in slavery and prison? I believe God prepared Joseph for this work. Joseph, on his part, yielded to God’s plan for his life and consequently was ready and able to rule successfully when his calling emerged.
Joseph’s training included leadership roles in prison and at Potiphar’s house (where he was a slave). These do not sound like much … but Joseph benefited greatly from them because he recognized them as God-given opportunities to develop and hone the qualities of leadership and service with which he would later rule.
Joseph’s training also included lessons in diligence and excellence. Although he received divinely inspired visions of success early in life, he could not rest on his laurels because of the difficult path he was made to walk. Holding on to solid faith in God, Joseph applied himself to the pursuit of excellence and as a result prospered in all he did. The Bible records that his masters relinquished significant responsibilities to him because they saw that all he did prospered[vi].
Herein lie two key lessons for God’s people today. First, it is important to seek God’s will and favour in our career and business endeavours; on the path of His will, we’ll find true prosperity. Second, the pursuit of God’s favor does not preclude the pursuit of excellence. Although he had God’s favor, Joseph would never have prospered if he was lazy. Scriptures teach through several examples that laziness and complacency are not God’s way[vii].
Joseph’s training also included elements of character building. Joseph had to overcome anger, bitterness, and resentment towards the brothers who betrayed him. He had to cope with the humiliation of being ‘a nobody’ in someone else’s territory. He also had to deal with the pain of being accused and punished for an offense he did not commit.
Through his varied experiences Joseph learned several spiritual and natural lessons: he learned to trust God when things did not look good, he learned to endure hardship and persevere through tough times, he learned to treat others well even when he was not being treated well, and he learned hard work and diligence.
No doubt, Joseph’s divinely-designed training worked; the Bible tells us he successfully fulfilled the role for which God had groomed him.
If we, like Joseph, yield to God’s dealings in our lives, if we follow His directions and apply ourselves to excellence, God will build in us the skills, abilities, and character needed to fulfil the roles He has prepared for us in our work and business places. If we submit to Him wholly, our lives will bear witness to His wisdom, excellence, and glory; people will revere and honour Him because of the virtues and grace they see in us.
We live at a time when there are unprecedented wickedness and corruption in the world. Therefore, we cannot afford to be lukewarm in the practice of our faith. If we desire to prosper through faith in God, we must surrender our lives fully to Him both in and out of our workplaces. This will bring us under His covering[viii] and guarantee His wisdom, favour, and power in our career and business endeavours.
[i] Proverbs 11:1
[ii] Proverbs 12:11
[iii] Proverbs 12:27
[iv] Matthew 5:13-16
[v] Deuteronomy 28:1,12
[vi] Genesis 39:1-6, 21-23
[vii] Proverbs 6:6-11, 2 Corinthians 6:4,5
[viii] Psalm 91:1