Christians often measure the significance of a job by its perceived value from the eternal perspective. Will the work last; will it “really count” for eternity? The implication is that God approves of work for eternity, but places little value on work for the here and now.
By this measure, the work of ministers and missionaries has eternal value because it deals with people’s spiritual, eternal needs. By contrast, the work of a salesman, teller, or typist has only limited value, because it meets only earthly needs. In other words, this kind of work doesn’t really “count” in God’s eyes.
But this way of thinking overlooks several important truths:
(1) God himself has created a world that is time-bound and temporary (2 Peter 3:10,11). Yet he values his work, declaring it to be “very good,” by its very nature (Gen 1:31; Acts 14:17).
(2) God promises rewards to people in everyday jobs, based on their attitude and conduct (Eph 6:8; Col 3:23-4:1).
(3) God cares about the everyday needs of people as well as their spiritual needs. He cares whether people have food, clothing, and shelter.
(4) God cares about people who will enter eternity. To the extent that a job serves the needs of people, God values it, because he values people. (Four reasons adapted from the Word in Life Study Bible.)
As Christians, we should step back for a moment and remind ourselves again that each of us is called to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, first and foremost. From this position all else comes. The fruit of our relationship with Christ moves us to the level of our calling in work. That work – whether serving on the mission field—or delivering mail– is a holy calling of God.
The reason God holds a high view of work is that He created each person in His image for an express purpose in this world to reflect His glory in ALL aspects of life. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). He knows the number of the very hairs of our head, and He knows what we are wired to do in life (see Ps 139).
By segmenting the “secular work” part of our life, we cut off the expression of His life to the world. However, He would by no means let us do that. He knows there are many who will never hear the gospel because they will never enter a church building. You may be the only representative of the true and living God they will ever encounter.
The Lord has called each of us to be excellent in what we do. Those whom God used in the Kingdom as marketplace ministers were skilled and exemplified excellence in their field. Not only were these men skilled, they were filled with God’s Spirit. Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:1-5).
Consider Huram, the master craftsman of bronze to whom Solomon entrusted much of the temple designs. He was a true master craftsman (see 1 Kings 7:14). Consider Joseph, whose skill as an administrator was known throughout Egypt and the world. Consider Daniel, who served his king with great skill and integrity. The list could go on (David, Nehemiah, Acquilla and Priscilla). Most of these were in the “secular” world of work providing a service that was needed for mankind. May we strive for excellence in all that we do for the Master of the universe.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24 emphasis mine).
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men (Prov. 22:29).
Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of Change Agent and TGIF Today God Is First daily devotional.
[Editor’s note: adapted from Os Hillman’s full-length article “Secular vs. Sacred: What’s Our Primary Call?” Read it at Crosswalk.com.]