In the TV show The Office, Stanley Hudson sums up the attitude of Dunder-Mifflin’s employees in 9 words:
“This here is a run out the clock situation.”
This expresses one extreme of how people view their work: it’s simply a means to an end, and the end is a paycheck.
I’ve felt this way before. You probably have too.
But the opposite extreme — viewing work as an end in itself — isn’t any healthier.
Work plays a significant role in our lives. Our workplace is where we’ll spend most of our waking hours as adults. So defining ourselves by our work becomes incredibly tempting, even natural.
Unfortunately, by defining ourselves primarily through work performance, we allow something other than God to tell us who we are. This will ultimately lead us away from God.
But a healthy middle ground does exist. Finding it requires the right perspective.
Famed industrialist Andrew Carnegie once said, “My heart is in the work.” This simple phrase captures the difference between a job and a vocation.
We’re willing to give ourselves to work we’re passionate about. That’s why we’ll often describe it as a “calling.”
But by doing so, we inadvertently distort the biblical idea of calling.
God calls us into His family, not His corporation.
By embracing our deeper identity as a child of God, we are freed to pursue a vocation wholeheartedly without becoming consumed by it.
Being created in God’s image means we were created to do the meaningful work described above — work that improves lives, builds society, and advances God’s Kingdom.
Optometrists help people see, trash collectors clean our neighborhoods, artists show us the world through different lenses, etc.
So we can do our jobs as acts of worship to God and service to others, by doing them with excellence, diligence, integrity, and humility.
How do you see your co-workers? Are they more like friends you work alongside or people competing against you for respect and position?
Have you ever considered a colleague to be any kind of enemy?
Whether we see co-workers as friends or enemies, Jesus’ instructions are the same: we are to love them (Matthew 5:44, Mark 12:31).
The Bible teaches us how to love others in light of being loved by God.
Here are some ideas for loving your co-workers well:
You have the choice to accept the culture of your workplace, or with God’s help, be part of shaping it.
Where do you go from here?
If you feel like your work is defining you and you want it to change, try these three ideas.
When we show up in our cities and neighborhoods and move toward people with helpful action, we can bring change through the love of God.
If you’re feeling lost or alone, even in the midst of your church community, learning to love and serve others might be the way forward.
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