Like many preachers I have preached how Colossians 3:23-24 calls us Christian to be a witness through excelling in our jobs or career. The passage reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” The context of the passage deals with the work of a slave, but it seems to be fair to connect the statement to each Christian’s job.
Although this concept is regularly preached from the text, the text itself lends very little understanding on what exactly excelling at one’s job may appear to be. This leaves the instruction rather vague. Most Bible teachers teach that this passage is fulfilled by our jobs being done with excellence. No doubt this is included in the pathos of the passage, but surely that does not capture the entirety of “work with all your heart as working for the Lord”. Another common explanation is that the Christian worker fulfills this verse with integrity. Again there is no doubt this too is included in the intent of the passage, but even calling the Christian to perform their job with excellence and integrity remains a vague ideology. What does excellence look like? What does integrity look like in all phases of our job?
Those two answers alone should leave one unsatisfied on how they may truly “work with all your heart as working for the Lord”.
A friend gave me an opportunity to review a new book about thriving at work and building a successful career. Now I read a lot of books on Christian leadership and how to be a better minister, but I don’t read many about surviving in a corporation or receiving a promotion. So with hesitation I read Rick Whitted’s Outgrow Your Space at Work.
Yet after diving into Rick’s book I was shocked at how much it benefited me as a pastor. Here are just three of the benefits I gained.
First, Outgrow Your Space at Work took me into the segment of life that my congregation spends the majority of their time. Rick presents shocking stats of how that our work, our careers, take center stage in our lives. It is where we spend the most of our time. This is true even if one maintains a healthy balance with work and life.
Although pastoring and vocational ministry has demands and challenges I realized I was oblivious of a lot of the day in and day out challenges that my congregation face. Rick does a masterful job of capturing the tension and the realistic life on the floor of work. This outlook opened my eyes. There are many concerns and emotions that my congregation need addressed biblically that I have failed to realize. As a pastor I have failed to provide the instruction and biblical wisdom to the area of life my congregation spends most of their time.
Second, a pastor needs to develop many of the same skills used in a corporate office, factory, or out on the road making sales. This is especially true when it comes to working with a team. As a pastor, there were many areas in which Rick challenged me to improve in. I personally was challenged to pursue personal growth as much as a dedicated employee in a field that has high competition.
The third benefit I gained is closely related to the first. I was overwhelmingly convicted I needed to make sure I was providing biblical application for my congregation that would impact their jobs on a daily basis. In God’s providence I am preaching through Colossians. In a few weeks I will preach through Colossians 3:23-24. And as I have prepared I have been left unsatisfied with the material I have found on the explanation of that passage. In following the typical pattern of instructing my congregation I believe they too would leave unsatisfied. Instructing the Apostle Paul tells us to excel leaves us wondering – how? Instructing that he wrote that we should work with excellence leads us to asking – to what extent? Instructing that we should work with integrity causes us to say – duh?
That’s why I appreciate Rick writing detailed, practical, and biblical instruction on the best way to perform in the work force. His point is that working in this way leads to a promotion, success, and fulfillment in your job. But there should be no surprise that “working with all your heart as working for the Lord” would lead to that level of success.
Some of the practical advice includes in detail things like humbleness, appropriate perspective, mastering the basics, taking responsibilities, be willing to do the tough stuff, team work, a good attitude, seeking wisdom, strong relationships, loyalty, and forgiveness.
So for a more detailed understanding to how to practical fulfill Colossians 3:23-24 read Rick Whitted’s Outgrow Your Space at Work.