How Do I Glorify God through My Work?

We spend the vast majority of our waking hours on the job, yet glorifying God in our work is rarely a topic of conversation in the church. Faithful Christians who desire to honor God with their vocational lives often do so by working ethically, starting lunchtime Bible studies, facilitating a prayer time, or sharing their faith regularly. While each of these activities are honoring to God, he also cares about the tasks of our jobs as well.

What do we mean when we say “work” and “vocation”?

Every-Waking-Hour_PDPWork is what creatures do with God’s creation.

We might say work began when I started doing something that pertained to my paycheck. But I’ve never received a paycheck for cutting my grass, and we can all agree that’s work. So where does work take place? Wherever people interact with God’s world—whether planting bulbs or planting churches, raising children at home or driving to the office, writing a song or writing an amicus brief—it is all work.

Vocation is the way or ways in which we make ourselves useful to others.

Often when we hear the word “vocation” we immediately think of our place of employment, and indeed this is a vocation. But it isn’t the only one. “Vocation” simply means “calling,” and each of us inhabits multiple callings. For a Christian, the first and most important calling is to trust and obey Jesus. Through our union with him, we live out other callings in the arenas of family, church community, neighborhood, and occupation or place of employment.

Mission and work

Missions and mission are often pitted against each other, but in my estimation, these two concepts work hand-in-glove to create a robust testimony to God’s mission in the workplace. Proclamation and demonstration of the gospel are essential to the Christian life and witness. The one-two punch of words and actions is revealed in Scripture, and both components are vital to participation in God’s mission (John 14:11; 17:18). The tension between the two arises in part because believers are often inclined to excel in one or the other. Some believers have a more demonstration- or deed-oriented witness, in which their every action on the job is in view of eternity. Others do well in facilitating strategic Bible studies and prayer times to boldly proclaim the truths of the gospel. Together, these believers are able to amplify each other’s witness and catapult their work into new dimensions of kingdom usefulness.

The manner in which work is done has the potential to be a profound witness to God’s mission. A work environment that generates a positive group dynamic and the best work begs for proclamation of the gospel message that nurtured it. Because the work of our hands never leaves creation static, it’s important to let God’s mission alter the way we work as well as the type of jobs we take as believers. In the end, our vocational spheres are ground zero for proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom and bearing testimony to God’s restorative mission in the world. Among all of God’s creation, people are uniquely equipped for this task.

Work satisfies two realities

People offer an exceptional witness to God’s mission because, unlike other living beings, we are uniquely aware of both temporal and spiritual realities. When we neglect to address the earthly and spiritual together, we abandon God’s plan by seeking to fulfill our desires contrary to our design; in essence, we neglect what it means to be human and cause dysfunction in our lives. We are susceptible to this trap on the job if we try to appease our desire to be successful; even if the goal is achieved, our work is not proactively intertwined with God’s mission (i.e., the spiritual). This leads to discontentment that, in turn, causes us to overwork because we look to receive something from it that—isolated from God’s mission—it can never deliver.

The intersection of the temporal and the spiritual in the workplace also reminds us of our salvation: When we are made new in Christ, the Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the wisdom that God has inscribed into creation and reveals how our work can direct us and others toward God himself.

As spiritual beings, we have to take our spirituality into every temporal endeavor we pursue because not doing so would belittle our role as image-bearers. Our calling, as workers, is to develop the hidden potentials in our work and in those around us with the perfection of the kingdom as our guide. The ministry that work assumes develops organizations, processes, and people; the cultural mandate demands nothing less.

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Adapted from Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians by Benjamin T. Quinn & Walter R. Strickland II. This title is one of three books published in partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Every Waking Hour is now available in all formats—get your copy today!

Written by
Jake Mailhot

Jake Mailhot is the product manager for Lexham Press. He also writes about baseball and lives in Bellingham, WA.

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Written by Jake Mailhot
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