Whether or not we are religious, there is a chance we decouple religion-related matters from work. Some encourage others to leave their religion at home when they come into work. I was an intern and now an engineer at a large secular company, so I’ve personally heard this sentiment expressed a lot — engineering is engineering, faith is faith. In this blog post, I’d like to share personal experience and some principles from the Bible that are specifically for those in the workplace, where they can practice Christianity in deeds. These principles have helped me develop work ethics and make an impact, not just at my current company but also when I was a college student.
Phil 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
The first thing I must remember is what Jesus said to His disciples, “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). As a follower/disciple of Jesus, I am His representative and I must shine as the light.
To confess, during my first 2 years of college, I often called my parents to complain about how challenging computer science was and so often I disputed with my dad about it being the right field for me to concentrate in. I didn’t complain as much during the last 2 years, but I also didn’t see much meaning in my work. As I transitioned into the tech industry, and I spent more time reading these Biblical instructions, I understood the importance of work to God, because after He created man, He gave him work (Genesis 2:15). Work is a worship to the Creator of the universe.
During my first 4-5 months of working, I had 3 projects to work on, one of which had a deadline. For a couple of weeks, I had to put on more hours than I’d like to and there was a lot of temptation for me to complain. I disliked Sunday evening because it was so near to another week of dread. I’m sharing these to say that it is very natural for us to complain, to grumble, to be bitter. But when others complain, and you take the stressful situation as an opportunity to worship God all the more, you shine as lights. You are different.
Colossians 3:23-24: Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 4:1: Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Also during those 4-5 months, I didn’t see any meaning in my work. Sure, it impacts millions of users globally, but how does it advance the Gospel? I really want others to know Jesus, because of the hope and freedom He offers, but my work wasn’t enabling anyone to know Him. I felt like a low-class Christian, working merely to serve my own interests. As a result, I worked only to meet the bar minimum, to only do what I was told to do, rather than actively bringing new ideas to my team and company.
I was very convicted that I wasn’t serving my bigger Master, Jesus Christ. His eyes are open 24/7, watching every line of code and design document I write, and all my slacking moments when I think no one is looking. Do I fear Him who saved me from sin and gave me the freedom to enjoy His presence? If so, I’d better be careful not to have any displeasing thoughts or acts. Acknowledging that God created work and that He has placed me in this workplace allows me to submit to His will, and view my work differently. I also have to check myself that in meetings, I do not offer my opinions that I think others want to hear, but to show integrity and honesty as unto the Lord. Employers and managers are also instructed to be just and fair to the people under them.
Phil. 2:4: Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
In my company, we’re trained to think about working towards the next level or the next 2 levels. For example, a fresh college grad enters as a junior engineer (level 3). Early on, I was encouraged to work towards level 4 requirements. After about a year, I was encouraged to work towards level 5 requirements, even before I got promoted to level 4. Many of my coworkers work hard to climb this corporate ladder. It’s easy to focus only on our own work, in order to get promoted fast, and to not want to spend time helping others in the team or other teams with our knowledge and expertise. My company has a peer bonus system where a coworker can reward cash bonus to another in a different team for their contributions. This way, everyone is incentivized to help others.
As a Christian, it is a command for us to not be selfish, but to love others as ourselves. Without the peer bonus system, a Christian is still motivated to help his/her coworkers, helping others grow as well. As Colossians 3:24 reads, the inheritance of Jesus Christ will be our reward.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12: For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Lastly, this verse reminds us of the importance of work. The book of Proverbs repeatedly teaches us to be hardworking, to not be lazy or idle. Being in the Lord, and doing all things unto the Lord means we ought to please Him. Just as God created Eden for Adam to work it, He’s also not saved us from sins so that we could sit idly.
While I thought my work was meaningless and did not advance the Gospel, I know God is pleased with what I do and my attitude towards it (sometimes I mess up, but by His grace I get back on His path). I have also been given opportunities to share my testimony and God’s work in my life to my coworkers, and grow in friendship with them. This is how I strive to walk my faith at work.
I pray that those who read this post will be blessed abundantly by the God of truth and grace, and that they worship God more and draw nearer to God through their work.