I’m currently reading through Quitter by Jon Acuff and in spending more time in Ephesians, I could not help but notice a distinct connection in Ephesians 6:5–9. And then I began to ask the question of how I view work. Honestly, I am not satisfied with the answer.
I view work as eight hours a day, five days a week spent trying to please my boss. Each new day is spent figuring out how I can get by with doing less work than the day before without anyone else noticing. Time spent in any single position is reduced to a downward spiral of increasing laziness and complacency.
Yes, you want your boss/manager to be pleased with your work, but I think work should have a greater purpose. I have spent nearly every working day (up to now, so not very many) merely eking out a workplace subsistence. I do my work well (enough), but I often find my motivation flagging after I’ve been somewhere a while. It never made sense until now. Trying to please a customer or a manager isn’t motivation enough to sustain satisfaction in one’s work. I need something deeper, lasting.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. — Ephesians 6:5–9
I understand the first word says ‘slaves’, but there is the caveat later on that reads “whether he is a slave or free’ indicating this passage isn’t only for slaves in the strict definition. Paul here is talking to everyone who works and is informing us of how and why we should work. He uses the words “fear and trembling”, however given the context, I believe he’s asserting that as employees we should be reverent toward our superiors. This can’t be fake, however, merely keeping things looking copacetic, but actually being diligent in our work at all times. If we do not do this from the heart, what good do we really do for anyone? Sure, we may please our manager in the short-term, but that’s not ultimately who we’re trying to please. God has to be our motivation and that has to be rooted deep down in our hearts. If it’s not, then we are as fake as the silk flowers we’re putting on our desks. If we’re working merely to please people, it’s but a matter of time before you’ve learned all the corners you can cut and how to do only enough to submit work that is passable. Then, your job loses challenge and inevitably you lose interest and desire.
Our true motivation has the ability to turn a great job into a miserable one and vice versa. If you have to be in the office five days a week for 45 hours or more a week, why not make the best of it? Why not keep yourself on your toes and at least like the job and the place where you spend a majority of your week? Otherwise, we set ourselves up for misery at work and I can guarantee that will bleed over into all the other aspects of your life. Trust me on that. Discipline begets discipline, but the alternative is also true. Don’t fall into the trap of scraping out an existence at work. Rather than ask yourself how you can get by today, ask how you can thrive because you have a God who is desiring to rain down a reward for your hard work and diligence. Plus, people will notice and begin to ask about the difference. Don’t waste another day.