Work Matters

Our work matters because it is a calling from God. Join us as we reorient our perspectives on work for the next 21 days by going through these devotionals together!


God Has a Purpose For Work

Have you ever thought about God as a worker? That’s how He describes Himself. Genesis 1 is all about God’s work in creation. Throughout the Bible God is described as a builder, a king, a shepherd, and a potter. This is significant because God created us in His image and blessed us to work. Work, in its original form, was created as a good thing. When sin entered the world, it didn’t just impact our relationship with God and each other, it also made work hard.

But work never stopped being good. God had a purpose for work right from the beginning and He still has a purpose for our work today. Jesus told us, “My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working.” God gives us work so we can partner with Him in building His kingdom on earth.

The world tells us that the purpose of work is to make a lot of money and create large, successful organizations. But these things are not the purpose for our work – just possible outcomes. The true purpose for all work is to worship God and bring Him glory. When we do our work in partnership with God, good things result, including being able to provide for our families and serve more people. But those are secondary to worshiping God.

Phil Vischer genuinely wanted to integrate his faith into his passion for filmmaking. That led him to create VeggieTales, a series of videos designed to teach children about the Bible. The challenge he had was to focus on God’s purpose for the work, not his own. God prepared good things for us to do so we can walk in them, not be driven by them. When we focus on what the world wants it may work for a while, but we’ll be left empty in the long run. When we focus on God’s purpose for work, any work we do, whether it be managing a project, working on spreadsheets or washing dishes, can bring God glory.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the work You have blessed me to do. Guide me in being a better partner to You so that my work becomes worship and brings You glory. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 2:2-3
Genesis 3:17-19
John 5:17
Ephesians 2:10


Whose Purpose for Your Work Are You Pursuing?

What’s more important to you? Your success at work or God? You’ll find the answer when you look at where you are spending your time. Many of us allow work and the things it can give us to become our first priority without fully realizing it. Sometimes we leave God in the background – or forget about Him altogether. The world’s influence can overshadow God’s influence over us.

Work may help us build big bank accounts and large organizations, take lavish vacations, and create a sense of security based on our own abilities – but Ecclesiastes reminds us that those things are meaningless. The energy we put into acquiring them can leave us feeling empty. Unhealthy relationships are too often left in the wake of excess time at work. We can have material wealth, yet be completely bankrupt.

God demonstrated how great His love is for us when He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins. Jesus reminded us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). We are called to make God our number one priority, and to partner with God in our work for His glory. To do this, we have to be very intentional not to give into how people define success.

Phil Vischer learned this the hard way. When the success of VeggieTales surged, he became focused on the numbers and having a bigger impact – his thoughts were all about expansion. Eventually, the aggressive pursuit of expansion led to the demise of the company.

Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know what God’s perfect will is. Being diligent about being in God’s Word daily gives us the wisdom we need to ensure we consistently pursue God’s purpose for our work, and not our own. How can you ensure you are putting God first?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I love you with all my heart. May Your Word transform me and help me to walk closely with you in my work and all of life. Help me understand the true purpose of my work from Your perspective. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2
Philippians 2:3-4
Matthew 22:37
Romans 12:2

Having The Right Design For Your Work

We all have dreams. God blesses us with our interests, talents and skills so we can achieve the dreams He has planted in our hearts. James tells us that every good gift is from God. This includes our dreams for our work, and the resources, ideas and favor we need to make our dreams happen. But we must remember that God’s design for our work is to partner with Him so that we can make our unique contribution to advance His kingdom, not our own.

God has a way of breathing life into our dreams to uncover what is more important to us – the dreams God gives you or God Himself. Our role is to be obedient, to trust that His plans are better than ours. We need to take great care that we don’t put the dreams before God. Anything we are unwilling to let go of can become an idol.

Phil Vischer lost sight of putting God first and following His plan. Phil’s work became his priority, so God allowed his efforts to crash. But Phil still had a heart for God. He did not lose his relationship with God after his failed business venture. In fact, he came to the realization that God was all he ever needed in the first place. Phil learned an important lesson about making God number one and then following God’s plan for his work.

God is accomplishing work through each of us. We are called to be good stewards of the dreams and gifts God has given us. Our response to the things that come from our work – both the successes and the obstacles – needs to be obedience to God out of our love for Him. We must consistently put God first, hold our plans for our work loosely and commit those plans to God. Then, He can direct us to pursue His design for the work He has given each of us to do.

Prayer

God, You are my priority. Please help me to be tuned into Your design for the work You have given me. Align my dreams with your plans. Help me to tune out distractions so that my response to success or failure honors You. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

James 1:17-18
Exodus 20:3
Proverbs 16:3
Titus 1:7-9

God’s Design For Your Work is Bigger

The experience of failure can cause us to question whether we should pursue our dreams at all. The enemy will take every opportunity to fill our heads with lies that we are inadequate and will never make it. The fact is, apart from God we can do nothing – nothing that has any lasting value. When we abide in God, put Him first and seek His wisdom, His Word promises that our lives will bear abundant fruit – and we’re not talking about apples here! We’re talking about transformed lives, beauty, technology, cities, industry – about all the things that God is using to build His kingdom and to bring Him glory. But the fruit God is looking to create through your life may look different from what you think.

Phil Vischer was focused on what he thought success needed to look like – pushing for bigger numbers and bigger impact. God used Phil’s failure as a wakeup call to reset his priorities so he would intentionally seek God’s direction and definition of success. Phil’s ambition, will, and dreams had to give way to God’s bigger design for Phil’s work. When we walk in obedience to God and follow God’s design for our work, miracles happen. Phil realized that “Dreams don’t occur when we’re pursuing impact or success – they happen when we’re pursuing God.”

God can take our most dramatic failures and transform them into miracles while also inspiring and encouraging others. Waiting on God is vital. Listen for His guidance. Seek Him, His Kingdom and His righteousness. Abide in Him. Follow His direction. Then watch God produce results through your work in a way that only He could and beyond anything you could have imagined! (Ephesians 3:20)

How will God use you?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You that You are able to do beyond what I can ask or imagine. Help me to remember to seek You first. Equip me to do my work in a way that brings You all of the glory! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Isaiah 55:8-9
Philippians 2:13
Romans 8:28
John 15:5
Psalms 27:4
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 3:20

We are Created and Called to Work with Excellence

In Genesis 1:28, God gives us specific work to do in the world: to take the raw material of creation and fill the earth. This includes building cities, industries, and all kinds of products and services. When it’s excellent, our work reflects God’s glory. Excellent work creates, sustains, and fixes the world around us. Any excellent work fulfills the call God issued in Genesis 1.

Joseph had a clear idea of his calling even as a young boy in Canaan. God gave Joseph dreams of the sort of work he would do one day – ruling over others. But Joseph didn’t yet know how to work with excellence, especially when it came to interpersonal communication. He had to undergo a transformative journey to learn how to rely on God for the strength and guidance to do excellent work.

Even when you get precise direction regarding your calling, the road can be lonely. Joseph’s story reveals this sobering reality. Joseph’s brothers were threatened by his dreams and jealous of the favor he found with their father. When you become clearer about the work God is calling you to do, others may respond to you with jealousy or rejection. Having the convictional clarity that your work is mandated by God can give you the strength you need to persevere, as Joseph did.

Prayer

Father, show me how my work fits within your vision for creation. Show me how my role and organization serve the creation mandate you gave us. Help me to feel the joy and significance that comes with seeing how my work aligns with yours. Help me to rest in the truth that my work is mandated by you and, therefore, is important to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 1:28
Genesis 37:5-36

Excellent Work Leads to God’s Favor

Although Joseph was sold into slavery, he still worked with excellence in order to serve God. In turn, God energized Joseph’s work with great favor, causing everything Joseph touched to flourish. He won the favor of his master Potiphar. But just as Joseph’s dreams didn’t bring instant authority, Joseph’s excellent service didn’t bring him instant comfort. Joseph refused to compromise his integrity by sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, and, in spite of his moral excellence, he ended up in jail.

This story teaches us that we are not immune to bad things happening, even when we are faithful and work to the best of our ability. God is more concerned with the character of the person doing the work than with the outcomes. This is a blind spot in our leadership culture today. Companies focus almost exclusively on results. Whoever produces results gets celebrated and promoted. The character of the person and the integrity of the methods often don’t matter. If a leader leaves a pile of broken relationships and morally questionable decisions behind them, it’s the price to pay for success.

But Joseph’s story shows us that excellent work is more about the sort of person you become through your work than about the results themselves. As we trust God through all circumstances, He never forsakes us. Just as Joseph found favor in prison, God favors people who value deep, meaningful relationships with God and with others.

When Joseph’s work flourished in Potiphar’s household, he could have made his success about himself and taken advantage of the privileges available to him. But he didn’t. His success was tied to God’s purpose – to bless God, others, and the world no matter what. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Prayer

Father, help me to use my work and position to bless those around me and the customers my work serves. Protect me from making my success about me —winning, getting promoted, earning a bonus. Help me to measure success by how much my work is in sync with God’s purpose for my work. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 39:1-23

Excellent Work Should Have Lasting Value

Many of us grew up believing that the only work that lasts into eternity is “saving souls,” and that other work doesn’t really matter to God. The message was: if I want to do work that lasts, I’d better go out and evangelize.

But Joseph teaches us that all work has the potential for lasting value, if it’s done with faith, hope and love. When Pharaoh needed someone who could interpret his dream, Joseph was brought to him from prison because he had demonstrated this ability years earlier for the Cub-bearer. Joseph began by making it clear to Pharaoh that man does not interpret dreams, but God provides the interpretation when we ask Him. After Joseph explained that the dream was meant to alert Pharaoh to prepare for seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, Pharaoh placed Joseph as second in command to ensure that preparations would be done with excellence.

Joseph had the faith that God would energize his work with divine interpretations for Pharaoh’s dreams. He had love for Pharaoh and the people affected by the coming famine. He had love for the Cup-bearer whom he had helped, even after he forgot about Joseph once he got out of prison. Joseph had hope that Egypt and the surrounding nations could survive the famine if they worked wisely with the resources God gave them during the seven years of abundance.

Paul tells us that any work done in faith, hope, and love will find its place in God’s future. That’s a good definition of excellent work. If your work is filled with love for your team and customer, it will last. If you do your work faithfully tied to God’s wisdom and character, it will last. If your work is shaped by God’s eternal perspective, it will last. Your work is filled with great potential for lasting value when you do it with faith, hope, and love.

Prayer

Father, help me to be aware of opportunities to do my work with faith, hope, and love. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do lasting work today. With this opportunity comes great responsibility. Help me to be a good steward of my work today. In Jesus’ name . Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 41:1-40
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
1 Corinthians 13:13

Excellent Work is Resilient

Early in Joseph’s life, his brothers hated him and wanted to kill him. They sold him into slavery and convinced their dad that Joseph was dead. Now, they come to Joseph in need of food. Joseph could finally get his revenge, if he wanted it. But instead Joseph bounced back to a loving relationship with his brothers. This is what he did his entire professional career. Joseph always worked with great resiliency when things didn’t go his way. He didn’t get discouraged or give up. He consistently worked with excellence, whether it was in a prison or palace. He never swayed from serving God though his work.

How could he work with such resiliency? He knew that, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). In order to do excellent work that is energized with God’s favor, we need to have the same perspective. Joseph knew that whatever famine or person came to harm him, God would use the situation to bring about something good.

Paul gives us the same perspective in Romans. Not all things that happen to us are good. Some of the things that we do aren’t good. They can be quite bad, in fact. But God is so committed to us that he can take any circumstance and use it for our good. This perspective gives us the power to serve God in our work, no matter what is happening. No matter the motive of your boss, no matter what is happening in the market, God will bring good from it. Then, while others are stuck in fear and scarcity, you can be resilient. You will be able to bounce back … and help others bounce back too.

Prayer

Father, I thank you that you use all things I do and that are done to me for good. Thank you for the hope and certainty of your provision. I know now that, no matter the circumstance, my work can be filled with your favor and bring good. Help me to believe this truth more deeply every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 50:1-21
Romans 8:28-29

When Adversity Hits

When God created the universe, He said it was all good – the stars, the wildlife, people, our relationships and the work God blessed us with. But sin entered the world like a virus, infecting everything including our relationships – with God, with other people, with ourselves – and our work. As a result, we often experience work as hard and adversity as commonplace.

No one is immune from facing adversity, no matter how hard you work. In this reading plan, we’re going to look at two examples of people who faced adversity by leaning on faith – one from the Bible and one from today’s marketplace.

The book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish orphan girl in exile who becomes queen. Out of the blue, she received the disturbing news that a plan to destroy the Jews had been approved and scheduled. On top of that, the only way to save her people was for Esther to put her own life at risk by approaching the king without being summoned.

Celia Swanson was the first female executive vice president at the world’s largest retailer. She started her career in a department store and worked her way up, but not without a few bumps along the way. In one meeting, Celia made remarks that led the vice chairman to think she was not aligned with his vision. He asked Celia to step outside where he proceeded to ream her out in front of the trash cans! The vice chairman told her she had 24 hours to let him know if she was on or off the team.

Sudden adversity can cause us to react. We might either go into a state of shock and confusion, or jump into doing something unwise. And that’s just where our enemy, the devil, wants us. But we don’t have to bite. Jesus encouraged us by saying that we would face trials. But we can “take heart” that Jesus has already won the victory over the adversity, trials and challenges that are inevitable at work and in life through our faith.

Prayer

Father God, thank you that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Help me to remember to pause when adversity strikes and seek You. Give me the wisdom to respond instead of react. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 3:17-19
Esther 4:1-11
Romans 5:12
John 16:33

How You Respond Matters


Pause

When adversity strikes, we have a choice to either give into our emotions or hit pause. To think that, because we are Christians, we should be able to respond to everything that comes at us at work with poise at the onset is unreasonable. Neither is it a good idea to jump into action immediately since it is not likely we’ll give our best response. We all have emotions – they were created by God! – but they don’t have to have us or control us. We need healthy strategies for processing through our emotions. Pausing puts your primal “threat” response in check and enables you to respond from a place of peace.

Pray

After we pause, we need to reset. Esther fasted and prayed along with her community for three days. That allowed Esther to reset and gain the courage she needed to approach the king. For Celia, after her reaming out she spent a long evening processing her anger, soul searching and in prayer. The next day, Celia was prepared to respond confidently to the vice chairman. Praying helps you gain the clarity necessary to determine what to do and the courage to do it.

God wants us to seek Him for wisdom and to trust Him through the storms. When we bring Him our needs in prayer, He can then strengthen us and guide us to take the best course of action.

Process

Scripture helps us to know what God says about the situation and gives us the wisdom we need. As we consistently read God’s Word, we will find it easier and easier to shift from fear to faith quickly. Fear often comes from not knowing how it will all turn out, but we can trust the One who does – God. God uses adversity to strengthen our faith and create stories that inspire others to turn to Him and trust Him as well.

Leaning on God helps us avoid being paralyzed by fear and gives us the courage and confidence to take bold, Holy Spirit-inspired action.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to remember to pause and pray when adversity strikes, knowing you are there waiting for me to simply turn to You. I thank You that You hear my prayers, You give me strength and You show me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Esther 4:12-16
James 1:5
Philippians 4:6

Taking Spirit-led Action

When adversity strikes, it requires that we shift from being paralyzed by fear to taking Spirit-led action. There may be damage that needs to be repaired, people who need to be encouraged or a new solution that needs to be discovered. The action you choose can mean the difference between success and failure, between strong relationships and broken ones, between keeping your job and losing it. No matter what the adversity is, we need God’s help, not just to know, but also to take the best next steps.

After fasting and praying, Esther was empowered to approach the king, even though it could have cost her her life. The king extended his scepter to her – a sign that she had found favor with him. That opened the door for Esther to request that the lives of her people be spared. It was a critical step toward victory over their enemies.

When Celia had to respond to the vice chairman the day after he had reamed her out, she told him, “I’m in … and what I hope you will understand is that when I bring something to you, I have a reason and aligned purpose behind it.” This bold statement was received favorably by the vice chairman and opened the door for future opportunities.

The action we take doesn’t need to be aggressive. In fact, small, slow steps may be what are most called for in the situation. When we lean on God, He gives us direction and He can turn those difficult circumstances around for good for your team, for your organization and for you. Even the most hopeless situations and overwhelming odds can be turned around through faith.

Prayer

Father God, fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Strengthen my faith and help my unbelief. Give me the wisdom to take the best possible action for the highest good of all involved. Show me where I can walk in holy boldness and bring You glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Esther 5:1-2
Esther 5:4
Esther 5:8
Esther 7:3
Joshua 1:9
Romans 8:28

Claiming Your Victory

We’ve been given God’s Word as a powerful weapon and His Spirit so that we can be guided by His divine wisdom. His Word is truth and He is faithful to His promises. His Word tells us that we have the ultimate victory, regardless of what the world serves up. Speaking scripture over our situation and walking in love allows us to claim our victory and protects us from succumbing to fear or sinful desires.

Esther’s obedience and bold action won back the lives of her people and gave them an overwhelming victory over their enemies in battle. Celia was commended for her respectful, yet assertive response to the vice chairman during her performance review later that year. In both the ancient and the modern situations, God turned adversity into a significant victory that also built resilience and confidence, and strengthened the leadership in both of these women.

Victory can look many different ways. It can show up as gaining the ability to remain authentically poised in spite of an unjustified attack. It may show up as a door closing, followed by a more advantageous door opening. It can be a dramatic win in what the world would have said was a hopeless situation. As we draw close to God through those times, He will help us see our circumstances in light of His plans, as opposed to the way the world would have us see it.

And when we see victory, we must remember to give all the glory to God. He is the one who helps us walk through or rise above the challenges that come at us at work. No victory is for one person alone. When God helps us through tough circumstances, it is an opportunity to share our story and God’s faithfulness with others and encourage them – encourage them to follow Christ, to seek God, to get to know His promises. Because we are in Christ, we have the ultimate victory of eternal life in Christ, and that is something to be shared.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that all of my success and victories through adversities come from You. I give You all the glory and may the stories I share lead others to faith in Christ and eternal life in Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Esther 9:1-2
Esther 9:20-22
2 Peter 1:4
Romans 8:37-39
Isaiah 54:17

Living an Integrated Life

Think about all the different aspects of your life – family, work, faith, friends, and fun. It’s common practice to see each of these areas as separate, each having its own compartment in our minds, hearts and schedules. We work Monday through Friday, looking forward to the weekend. We worship on Sunday, and tuck the lessons we learned from the sermon away in the back of our minds as we start the work week. We turn to Jesus in our morning quiet time, but often forget about, or don’t even consider, turning to him in the midst of a busy work day. Even the phrase “work-life balance” infers that work is separate from life when, in actuality work is a major part of life.

In this story, Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Bethany when Martha opened her home to them. Both Martha and Mary loved Jesus deeply. They both knew that Jesus was the Messiah. They both took opportunities to listen to his teachings. But after Jesus entered her home, Martha immediately went to work hosting. Mary, on the other hand, immediately sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to his teaching.

What was wrong with Martha’s attitude? Serving, in and of itself, was not wrong. It was what Martha’s culture expected of her. But Jesus used the opportunity to teach us that God’s priorities are different from what society expects.

Perhaps one of the mistakes Martha made was to see the situation as either/or – serve or listen. Perhaps she could have done a little less serving and a lot more sitting at the Lord’s feet, integrating the two as opposed to compartmentalizing.

Do you compartmentalize the different activities in your life? Is work separate from service or from worship?

Prayer

Lord, help me to see all of the aspects of my life as one integrated whole. Help me break down the barriers of compartments and shift into a workflow that is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Luke 10:38-42

Conscious Priorities

Most of us are constantly navigating any number of competing demands at work. Just when we think we’ve got a handle on things, several more are thrown at us. While we may do our best to multi-task, if we’re honest, we can only do excellent work when we do one thing at a time. It may be difficult, but we have to prioritize. The problem is we often do it by default – squeaky wheel, anyone?

For Martha and Mary, there were two possibilities – serve the guests or listen to Jesus teach. The culture in that day taught that women should do the serving and men focus on learning. If Mary had followed the default, she would have joined Martha in the kitchen. Yet, when Jesus entered the home and sat down, Mary made an intentional choice to sit at his feet to listen to his teaching.

How did Mary find the wisdom to do what was clearly best in the eyes of the Lord, even though it was counter-cultural? It’s likely that she had an open mind and heart to all that Jesus taught whenever she was in his presence. As we spend time with Jesus in complete submission, it becomes easier and easier to know what is best in the moment. Then we can set our priorities accordingly.

For Mary, Jesus’ influence was louder than that of her culture. She didn’t allow the perspectives of the day to overshadow what she knew was best. Her priority was the Lord. While Martha was very unhappy with her sister, Jesus commends Mary’s choice. Mary had her priorities straight.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

What is God saying to you about your priorities? Take time to listen to Him for wisdom on what to put first.

Prayer

Lord, work in my heart and transform my mind so that I know what your good and perfect will is. Give me the wisdom to choose what is pleasing to you in each moment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Luke 10:42
Romans 12:1-2

The Discipline of Not Reacting to Stress

Living a truly integrated life in which family, faith, work, and recreation flow together more seamlessly requires discipline in how we manage our emotions. We need to have the discipline to take care of ourselves spiritually, physically, and emotionally, and set healthy boundaries. We need to do the work that produces the best result, not what is easiest or what looks most impressive. When stressful situations arise, we need to pause to calm our emotions.

Martha was distracted by the expectations of others, and she worked herself into an emotional state. She called Jesus “Lord,” yet she had the audacity to tell him what she thought he needed to do to relieve her stress. Martha put her work and momentary stress above her relationship with Jesus. Jesus’ words help us to see the negative effect this had on her attitude. He said, “you are worried and upset about many things.” Rather than experiencing the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, Martha was worried and upset.

Like Martha, it is so easy for us to be distracted by the noise around us at work – the expectations of others, last minute demands and fires to put out. What can we do to work through the distractions that can keep us from choosing Jesus and choosing peace?

The most important discipline we can develop is to abide in Christ. We abide by starting our day reading and reflecting on God’s Word. We can abide throughout the day by praying and listening so we can discern what God wants us to do. And we can pause and pray when we encounter stress. When we abide, Jesus gives us strength and helps us re-center on what’s most important.

Prayer

Lord, help me to abide in you more deeply with each day so that I can bear much fruit in my work. May your Word take root in my heart and lead me to live a disciplined life that brings you glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Luke 10:40-41
Mark 1:35
John 15:5

Rhythm: Needing One Thing vs. Having It All

Jesus praised Mary’s discernment to make the best choice for that moment. Her priority in that moment was her relationship with Jesus, not what others thought she should do. It’s probably safe to say that Mary would have been more than happy to serve her guests, but she was moved to make sitting at the feet of Jesus more important. She chose the best thing over the good thing.

Many of us operate as if everything at work depends on us. It may be that we think we have to do it all or things will fall apart. Or maybe work has become a way to prove our worth and value. Hard work has value, but it is not more important than our relationship with Christ.

Jesus said only one thing is needed. Mary chose being with Jesus over “doing it all.” For us to live an integrated life and achieve balance, we have to let go of the feeling that it all depends on us. We need depend on Christ instead.

Jesus demonstrated through his own life that everyone needs to take breaks from work to remember their dependence on God. The crowds sought Jesus out for healing and teaching (both good things), but “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that there is a time for everything. Do you make time to connect with Jesus?

Prayer

Jesus, you are Lord of all of my life. Forgive me when I make work an idol. Give me strength to establish a healthy rhythm so that I choose what’s best in each moment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Luke 10:42
Luke 5:15-16
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The Meaning of Our Work is Our Choice

In Genesis 37:5-7 and 9, Joseph had dreams of a great calling God put on his life. He dreamt he would be in a position of power so that even his own family members would bow down to him. His brothers became jealous and wanted to get rid of their younger brother. When they were far from home and Joseph came out alone to check up on them, they grabbed the opportunity and sold him into slavery. You could say, Joseph experienced a major detour.

Joseph was forced to work as a slave in a foreign land where the people had no regard for God, but they couldn’t take away his freedom to choose his attitude toward his work. Joseph didn’t let his role define him. Although his boss was Potiphar, Joseph chose to serve God and do his work with excellence. As a result, God gave Joseph success in everything he did, and Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything he owned.

We all have dreams of the work we want to do. Perhaps the work you’re doing is a far cry from the dreams you’ve had. No matter what, we all choose – consciously or unconsciously – what our work means to us. The meaning we give our work determines the attitude we have about it, which affects the quality and excellence we bring to our work, and that affects how God can use us.

We have the freedom to choose a positive meaning for our work. When we do, we are more likely to not only do our work well, but also allow others to see Christ in us. Ultimately, our identity is in Christ, not our work. Ask God to show you His meaning for your work in His kingdom.

Prayer

Father God, help me to see my work through Your eyes today. Help me to remember that You use all work that I do with excellence out of my love for You to show Christ’s love to others. May those I work with see Christ in me today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 37:5-9
Genesis 39:1-6

Choosing God’s Meaning For Work

All too often, Christians have the misconception that the only work that matters to God is the work of pastors, missionaries and non-profits. The danger is that we judge other work as being insignificant, which can have a negative impact on our attitude and motivation. The fact is, all work matters to God. God wants us to partner with Him in whatever work we do to serve others and accomplish His purposes.

Joseph understood this, even in his greatest trials. Joseph didn’t develop a bad attitude, even when his circumstances went from bad to worse. He didn’t just get by because the work he had to do was clearly not his ultimate calling. Joseph knew who he was really working for – God. As a result, Genesis 39 tells us that “the Lord was with Joseph” four times (Gen 39:2, 3, 21, 23). When Potiphar’s wife kept approaching Joseph, he said “my master has no concern about anything in his house. […] How can I … sin against God?” Joseph recognized that his success came from God and he needed to honor God without fail.

Although Joseph chose to do what was right, he was wrongfully accused, fired from his job, and thrown in prison. Even in the midst of unfair circumstances, Joseph never stopped honoring God and serving those around him. Once again, God gave him favor with the prison warden.

We’re going to experience unfair circumstances at work, just as Joseph did. We need to guard against developing a negative attitude toward our work when things go wrong. Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We need to continually abide in Christ in all circumstances, and the work we do will bear much fruit (John 15:5).

What can you do to see your work through God’s eyes today?

Prayer

Father God, thank you for the work you have given me. Thank you for granting me success. Help me to abide in You at all times so that I can serve others with excellence in all circumstances, even when things aren’t going my way. Help me to stay focused on Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 39:7-23
Colossians 3:23-24
John 16:33
John 15:5

Relying On God At Work At All Times

Who we are doing our work for matters and can affect the meaning we give to our work. If we respect the people we work with and feel positively about our organization, we are more likely to want to do our best. But when we’ve been mistreated, or have issues with people at work, it’s easy to become discouraged, frustrated and even angry. Our judgment of people can have a negative impact on our motivation to do our best work.

Joseph had every reason to be angry and bitter. He was thrown in prison for something he didn’t do. Yet, Joseph continued to rely on God and served the warden with excellence. Because of that, he was put in charge of all of the prisoners. When the baker and the cupbearer, who had been sent there, appeared upset, Joseph showed his concern. He listened to them describe their disturbing dreams and provided the interpretation that God showed him. His kindness led the cupbearer to recommend Joseph to Pharaoh after Pharaoh had a disturbing dream that no one could interpret. Even then, Joseph did not try to make himself look good. He told Pharaoh that no one can interpret dreams but God. Then he provided the interpretation God gave him.

Because Joseph was faithful in prison, God put him over all of Egypt (Luke 16:10). God was with Joseph all along, preparing him, giving him wisdom and orchestrating the circumstances to fulfill His purposes.

If our motivation to do our best is influenced by the behaviors of others, our commitment to give our best effort will fluctuate. But what if you always relied on God in your work? Doing our work for God empowers us to consistently produce excellent results. How can you increase your reliance on God at work today?

Prayer

Father, forgive me for the times I allow my judgment of others to impact my attitude toward my work negatively. Increase my faith that you will use all the work I do to honor you for good. Work in my heart so I can maintain a positive attitude. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 40:5-19
Genesis 41:9-36
Luke 16:10-12

God’s Uses Our Work For His Purposes

After many years of trials, Joseph’s dreams came to fruition. Not only did Pharaoh entrust the operations of all of Egypt to Joseph, his brothers came to him seeking food when the famine hit and they bowed down to their brother, although they didn’t know it was him right away. God intended all along to use the seven years of abundance and seven years of famine to lead His people to Egypt where they would take refuge. God used the circumstances to prepare Joseph to bring His plan about.

When Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were fearful that he would finally take his revenge. But Joseph remained focused on God’s purposes and responded, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good […] the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph only got to see a small portion of how he fit into God’s bigger plan that we can see today. One day, Joseph will see just how many lives he contributed to saving.

James 1:2-3 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” When we are faithful through difficulties, we open the door for God to do amazing things through us. It’s important to trust that God can and will use our work to build character, strengthen us, and ultimately produce results we could never have achieved otherwise.

When we remain focused on Christ, we can have confidence that God is using our work in bigger ways than we can imagine. We may even see glimpses of how God is using our work in the bigger picture, as Joseph did. One day, all of us will get to see the part our faithfulness played in God’s plan.

Challenge yourself to allow God to refine you through difficult circumstances, and elevate the meaning of your work for His purpose and His glory.

Prayer

Father God, I know that you are always at work in and through my life. Help me to keep an eternal perspective on the work I do each day. Increase my faith. Give me wisdom in my work so that everything I do can be used for Your purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Genesis 50:20
Romans 8:28
2 Corinthians 4:17
James 1:2-4
Deuteronomy 31:6

Failure is Not an Option

We all experience failure at work. People fail us. The organizations to which we belong — and maybe even lead — fail. Failure is not reserved for the weak, incompetent, or unfortunate. It’s not something you can somehow avoid by cleverness or righteousness. It will happen, and to you.

The story of Nehemiah illustrates this vividly. Nehemiah was a high-powered, highly effective leader who did everything right. He secured funding from an outside investor to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He completed this project in record time — just 52 days. He re-established the Jewish faith practices in Jerusalem, then returned to his job as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. But when he returned to Jerusalem a couple of years later, he found that the work he had done to restore obedience to God had spoiled. The people he assigned to leadership, the citizens, and the Temple organization all failed him. Nehemiah teaches us that failure is not an option. It is inevitable.

Jesus offers us hope in the midst of failure. He told his disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). On the cross, Jesus faced the ultimate failure. He was rejected politically by Rome, religiously by the Pharisees, ethnically by the Jews, and relationally by his disciples (Mark 15:34). Yet three days later, he launched a whole new business initiative called “the renewal of all things” and a new company called the church to lead the initiative (Revelation 21:5). As Christians in the workplace, God has called us to take an active part in His mission through our work.

This means that we can give all our failures to God. When we do, He can make life out of it. We can give God our broken, disfigured, and rejected team or organization and, like the body of Jesus hanging on the cross, God can make life out of it.

Prayer

Father, You took the worst thing that has happened in human history — the crucifixion of God — and turned it into the best thing to happen to the world — renewal of all things. So, I give you my failure and trust that you will make life out of it. I pray this in the name of Jesus who took on my spiritual failures and gave me his spiritual successes by grace through faith, Amen.

Relevant Bible Verses

Nehemiah 13:8-11



We would like to thank Workmatters for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://www.workmatters.org/workplace-devotions/