The culture of a workplace influences the satisfaction of the people who work there. What is culture in this context? The values, attitudes, and actions of people from the top leadership on down. And all of these things are influenced by character.
Character matters up and down the corporate ladder, because organizations and the relationships that comprise them can only rise as high as the character of the individuals working there. That’s where the battle for character at work begins – on an individual level, within every person, the little thoughts they think and the little actions they take. Faithful character development pays attention to beginnings.
How can we begin shaping character at work? By changing what we believe about work. Whether we believe work is a curse or a gift from God will determine our effort. If character begins with the thoughts we think, then we need to make sure what we think about work is in line with Scripture and not conformed to wordly thinking.
Lies We Believe about Work
One of the most common lies about work that our culture promotes is that work is a drudgery, something to be endured, or merely something to make money in order to live.
Of course, we need to make money to support our families, and sometimes work really is painful. But work has a greater purpose in God’s created order. Work gives us an opportunity to image God’s creativity. It gives a chance to serve others with the gifts and talents with which God endowed us.
The idea that work is drudgery has its roots in another lie that Christians often believe about work – that it is a result of the Fall, a part of the curse given in Genesis 3. Work is certainly harder after the Fall (more on that later), but work is established as part of God’s good created order in the cultural mandate given in Genesis 1:28. Work is not a curse.
Truths about Work That Will Shape Your Character
We should be transformed by the renewing of our minds to affirm a biblical view of work. Here are five thoughts that can influence how we act in the workplace.
1. We were all created to work.
Work is not a result of the Fall. In Genesis 1:28, image bearers of God (male and female) are called to exercise domination or rulership over the whole creation.
Only God can make something out of nothing. We are to create something out of something. We are what Frances Schaeffer and J.R.R. Tolkien called “sub-creators.”
We can take wood and make a table or a house. We can take metal and make a tool or musical instrument and so on. Knowing that we are created to work alters our attitudes and actions at work.
2. Work is not a result of the Fall, but it is made more difficult because of the Fall.
Genesis 3:1-7 says the ground is cursed because of the Fall into sin. The ground will yield thorns and thistles. There will be much blood, sweat, and tears in the context of our work.
The Fall is what makes work burdensome and leads people to exclaim, “TGIF!”
3. Work is more than a place to make money or to evangelize.
It is certainly appropriate to give to the church, or, when the appropriate situation presents itself, share the gospel, but these purposes are not the central reason to work. Work is valuable in and of itself.
4. The ministerial calling is not higher than other professions, such as medicine, law, business, or carpentry.
Jesus was a small businessman for about twenty years. The Greek word for carpenter (tekton) can also mean something like a general contractor that works with wood, stone, or other materials. It is estimated that Jesus worked in this manner from age twelve or thirteen (when he would become an apprentice) to about thirty (Luke 3:23).
God’s kingdom can be advanced from all valid professions. We are all “priests”called to offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim his excellences in a world of darkness (1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9-10).
5. We are called to glorify God at work.
1 Corinthians 10:31 indicates that we are to give glory to God in how we eat and drink and surely in how we work. Our work is to be done for the Lord (Col. 3:23).
If our work is done well, he may say “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).
If we sow these five thoughts and really appropriate them, they will influence how we act at work.