September 02, 2019

Work Attitude

Devotion for the Week...

I enjoyed the mental break from writing devotions over the summer, but I'm happy to be back with a new one today! I hope that, whatever your work, you were able to find ways to take a break, too.

On that note, I want to look at work today. This is the Labour Day long weekend for those of us in North America. It's a holiday that began as a way to celebrate the work of everyday people and their contribution to society and that has become the unofficial signal of the end of summer for most people.

We, as a society, have a rather complicated relationship with work. Work is necessary - collectively, everyone's work needs to be done to keep society running and, individually, we each need to work in order to have an income to support ourselves - but we place a much higher value on the time we spend not working. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "working for a living is getting in the way of living." I know I'm guilty of feeling exactly that, especially now when I'm about to start work again after a summer off. I've even said longingly that I will make a very good retired person when the time comes because I can guarantee I will never be bored.

In the Bible, Paul is very clear that Christians are to be working. You don't get much clearer than "Those unwilling to work will not get to eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This verse is written as part of a larger argument against idleness as Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he worked hard so he wouldn't be a burden on anyone while he was with them. In that context I believe that Paul is not only referring to paid labour,  but also to all the unpaid work that needs to be done, which is why we've quoted that verse to our boys when they were younger and balking at the thought of doing their chores. Likewise, parenting is a lot of valuable work for which we are never paid.

Addressing slaves, Paul also wrote, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people" (Colossians 3:23). This one can be tough to live, can't it? We probably all have parts of our work that we genuinely enjoy and find easy to do. As a child care provider, I find it easy to sit and read funny books with the kids or bake with them or listen to their sometimes quirky stories and explanations. The ones that are so good I have to immediately text it to their mother make my day. But there are also parts of our work that we really don't like. Dealing with tantrums comes to mind. Or dirty diapers. During the summers while in university, I worked at Tim Horton's (a coffee shop chain here in Canada) and there were certain customers I'd cringe to see arriving because they were so unpleasant and rude. And needing to clean bathrooms never makes me happy.

Those parts of the work inspire anything but a desire to work willingly, and yet that's exactly what Paul tells us to do. Whatever we do, even the parts we really don't like, we should work at them willingly. Not complaining or grumbling, not doing just the bare minimum to get by and not trying to find ways to make it someone else's job. Why? Put simply, because it really is God we are working for, not the people who pay us or who benefit from the unpaid work we do. "Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ" (Colossians 3:24).

It's not that He needs the work done, but rather that He wants the right attitude in our hearts. So much of living the life God wants for us is more about our hearts than it is about anything on the outside. I know I grumble in my head an awful lot about the work I don't want to be doing. Sometimes I even allow it to make me miserable, all the while knowing that's the wrong attitude.
Is your attitude about work godly? |
Quilt detail from my Blue Sparkler quilt
Is your attitude about work godly? Is it easy for you to work willingly, even at the parts of your work that you don't enjoy? I have a long way to go before I'll be able to hold the right attitude about work in my heart all the time. Hopefully I also have many years of work ahead of me to work on it.


  1. Thanks for the reminder. I dont always look forward to another day at work.

  2. Thank you. Very thought provoking.

  3. Very well explained and written. Colossians 3:23 is the verse I clung to when I had a challenging job - believe it or not - as a quilting magazine editor. I tried so hard, and ended up resigning after less than a year. Sometimes the job we think we want - the best job imaginable - becomes our biggest mistake. I admire you for your work with children. That’s a special giftedness, and it seems you do it well. Bless you in your work, and for sharing the Word with us.

  4. I'm glad to have your devotions back. I appreciate them. I'm lucky and thankful to be retired. I try to express those thanks by using my time for charity sewing. There's not much that I have to do that I don't enjoy doing, but your devotion reminds me to cheerful do even those things that don't normally bring me joy.


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