who you work for

Who do you work for? A small business owner? A large (faceless) corporation? Yourself? How do you know when you’ve done well, made the boss happy?

If you’re anything like me, you have multiple income streams, which means multiple ‘bosses’ with various degrees of personal contact. One my jobs is helping out at a small business here in Raleigh, working directly for the owner. Easy to know who I work for there and when he’s pleased. In my teaching posts, I work for the universities, interacting with (ever changing) people in administration, none of whom I have ever met in person. You could say I work for the students, but the right thing to do with a student is not always what pleases them.

In my own research, I really work for myself, but I find it really hard to please my boss in that setting. That boss is never satisfied, anticipates and rejects all my excuses, and is a real task master, on my back all the time. 🙂

But then there’s this thing Paul wrote:

“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. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” Col. 3.23-25

You know who we work for? We work for the Lord. Read it closely, Paul is not encouraging us to start working for the Lord, but to recognize the reality that we are already working for the Lord in everything we do. The question is not who we are serving – only how well we are serving. If you haven’t done this before, try going through a whole day deliberately thinking to yourself that what you are doing – working, driving, cooking a meal, cleaning the kitchen, etc., is serving Jesus. It will make a difference in your productivity and the quality of your work. If you’ve been a slacker in some areas, it might be a good idea to ask forgiveness for poor service rendered. I did that just this morning, praying: “Forgive me for wasting time, energy, resources. Make me into a more faithful steward of all the many gifts you have given me.”

And don’t ignore that last sentence in what Paul wrote. If you have been doing immoral/unethical things in your work, you need to find ways to do your job ethically. That does not mean some arbitrary standard you or your company can live with, but real ethics – your work should engender (or at least not inhibit) justice, freedom, and well-being for all the people (all of them!) touched by your company. Working for the Lord means working in this way. You may find this requires small or large changes in how you go about your work. Or you may find it is impossible to do ethical work where you are. In which case you should quit at your convenience immediately as soon as possible. If you feel a tug in this direction, don’t ignore it. Pray into it, seek counsel and prayer support from those you trust in spiritual matters, and follow what the Lord tells you. Because he will tell you.

Working for the Lord is the best. He is gracious, easy to please, and gives the best swag. Plus the retirement benefits are out of this world (or to die for (pick your pun!)).