When it comes to our work, how do we as Christians exhibit ethical behavior and honor Christ from the cubicle to the boardroom in a culture largely focused on personal gain, self-promotion, and individuality?
Scripture tells us to maintain a strong, God-honoring character both in our personal and professional lives. Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
This biblical command applies to every profession, from business and marketing to nursing and carpentry. Scripture is clear that we are to reflect Christ in our day-to-day lives — and the majority of our time is spent in the workplace.
Astonishingly, a large number of U.S. workers don’t live by this principle, according to statistics. Gallup found that 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work; Forbes found that 79% of business and HR leaders believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem, and the Pew Research Center found that slightly fewer than of working Americans say they work only because they need the money (47%).
When it comes to the workplace, here are 5 ways we can differentiate ourselves from the world.
1. Maintaining Integrity in the Workplace
The Bible has a lot to say about maintaining one’s integrity — and the workplace is perhaps one of the most important environments to obey this command. Proverbs 11:13 reads, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
In his book The Millionaire Mind, Thomas J. Stanley asked 733 millionaires to rank 30 factors which led to their success. The number one attribute identified was “being honest with all people.” In other words, integrity is not just a biblical mandate; it’s critical for succeeding in the business world.
Demonstrating integrity in the workplace can be as simple as refraining from workplace gossip, working diligently and enthusiastically, and being honest with one’s colleagues and superiors.
John Piper, the founder of DesiringGod.org, puts it this way: “Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.”
2. Working With Excellence
As believers, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ and a reflection of the One we serve. Because of this, we must strive for excellence in whatever endeavor we undertake, becoming the very best at our respective vocations. Each of us has received gifts from God, and “as each has received a gift,” we are to “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
As followers of Christ, we should stand out from the world in the way we carry out our jobs: loving where others hate; faithfully fulfilling unpleasant tasks; finding joy amid challenges; demonstrating patience in the face of adversity; and striving for excellence when others refuse.
No matter our role, position, or skills, each one of us can make a difference in the workplace by carrying out high-quality, God-glorifying work.
In his book Christians in the Workplace, Pastor Charles Stanley writes, “One of the greatest hindrances to the gospel’s effectiveness is Christians who act one way at church and another way elsewhere. The way we live for God should permeate all areas of life. The workplace is no exception. The way we act reflects our faith. So if we claim to be Christians, our coworkers, bosses, and employees will equate our attitudes and actions with Jesus. Do those around you at the office see a positive reflection of God in your work ethic?”
3. Be Trustworthy and Reliable
Titus 2:7-8 reads, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
Followers of Christ are to demonstrate dependability and trustworthiness when called upon to deliver a service. Because God is trustworthy and because we are called to be image-bearers of Christ and emulate His character, is it vital that we, too, are trustworthy.
Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?’ ” 1 Samuel 15:29 tells us, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. He is not a man, that He should relent.” Psalm 110:4 declares, “The Lord has sworn and will not relent.”
Let’s refrain from making excuses in the workplace, instead of striving to earn a reputation of dependability, deliverability, and trustworthiness.
4. Treating Others With Respect
One of the greatest ways we can honor God at work is by treating others with respect, speaking words of grace to all around us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Pastor Stanley writes, “Think about how the golden rule—’Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you’—applies here. Putting it a different way, imagine yourself as the boss and ask, How would I like employees to work, even when I wasn’t watching them?”
Even when jobs or coworkers are hard to like, we are called to work as though God is our boss. That means doing tasks with joy, a servant attitude, respect for others, diligence, and obedience to those in authority.
We must be courteous, respectful, gracious and considerate to those around us, avoiding mindless gossip and needless conflict. Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
5. Working as Unto the Lord
Finally, we must remember that we don’t answer to an earthly boss, but a Heavenly One. Adopting this mindset allows us to approach our work with humility, joy, excellence, and humble dependence on God. Psalms 127:1 reads, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Writes Stanley: “Let’s look at a scriptural model for the believer to follow. For one thing, we should view ourselves as servants. Next, our true boss is Christ; therefore, we work diligently and with integrity, knowing that our reward is from Him. Then, since all authority on earth is God-given (John 19:11), we should obey our superiors gladly—unless, of course, our boss tells us to do something that goes against Scripture. And finally, all those we work with and for have worth from the Creator, and we should treat them with respect.”
As Christians, we are given the opportunity to behave differently in the workplace, setting ourselves apart as children of God. With God’s help, let us labor with diligence, serve with humility, and strive for excellence in whatever work God has called us to.