According to the U.S. Census in 2015, the United States of America has a working population of 154 million, of which 63 million identify themselves as Christians. Only three million, or two per cent of the total working population, describe themselves as Christians who actively integrate faith at work. This means the majority of Christians in the USA are not actively practising their faith at work! I wonder what the result would be if we conducted the same survey in Singapore.
It has often been preached at the pulpit that we should not be mere Sunday Christians, and that work and faith must be integrated. Yet, why are so many of us still struggling to practise this in the workplace? What should our attitude towards work be? Is it asking too much for Christians to see work as more than just getting the next paycheck?
Let’s begin by looking at Scripture to see what it says about work. Genesis 2:2 – “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Hence God was the first to work.
During the time of the Old Testament, people were instructed to bring their first fruits of labour to offer to God as worship. (Music and songs were introduced into worship during David’s reign when Levites and musicians were appointed.) Labour or work is thus connected with worship. Our ultimate objective as God’s people is to worship Him. And this should not be limited to our life within the Church but extended to whatever we do outside it, including work.
If work is a form of worship, what then should our attitude be? In Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV), the apostle Paul says: “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.”
He also stressed in Ephesians 6:7-8: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
Just imagine: if regardless of our occupation, we work wholeheartedly as if serving the Lord, I think our attitude towards work and the outcome of our labour would be quite different.
Consider these examples:
• If I am a hotel chambermaid and I am cleaning the room as if Jesus is going to stay there, would I not pay extra attention to make sure the room is clean and comfortable?
• If I am an investment manager helping my clients with financial investments and Jesus is my client, would I not make sure the advice I give for the investment is financially sound as well as morally sound?
• If I am a factory worker producing household products for consumers and my customer is Jesus, would I not make sure the product more than meets the specifications and is produced to perfection such that I would be proud to present it to the Lord?
• If I am a manager or in a leadership position, given a team of people to look after and Jesus is in my team, would I not be a good shepherd and take good care of my flock? Would I not show humility and take their interest to heart?
My dream is that Christians in the marketplace will consider our work as a form of worship and do it as if we are serving the Lord. Then the world will be a much better place.
Reprinted with permission from Wesley Tidings Issue 1/2016. Copyright 2016 by Wesley Methodist Church.
Photo courtesy of Lucas Chow
Lucas Chow was with Hewlett Packard for 20 years before he assumed various chief executive positions in Singtel Mobile, MediaCorp and Far East Orchard. He retired from Far East Orchard and Far East Organisation in Sep 2014. Currently, he serves as Chairman of Health Promotion Board, Vice-Chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Fund and member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore. Lucas was a recipient of the National Day Public Service Medal in 2015.