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Excelling in Work without Idolizing Work

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There's something attractive about a job well done. Every time I walk into Rosa's Cafe (all three locations in Midland), I am captivated by the number of people behind the counter, each one doing his or her part, constantly moving with speed and efficiency, almost always getting the order right, moving massive amounts of people through the line at record speed, never compromising quality and always leaving the customer satisfied and, in my case, very impressed at their business philosophy and management's ability to sustain such a well oiled machine.

STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE

I am thankful when I see excellence in the workplace. It's an expression of God's common grace on humanity. Christians of all people should be those who strive for excellence. Our work should never be sloppy. We of all people should recognize that our boss is the Lord Jesus before it's our supervisor. Our reward is getting God more glory more than getting a paycheck. Our motivation is Whom we represent not whom we need to impress. Our hope is future grace more than career advancement. These are ultimate things.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT JESUS IS ULTIMATE, WORK IS NOT

At the same time, making ultimate things ultimate puts our boss, our paycheck, and our career advancement in the right light. That means,

  • We don't gossip, demean, threaten, or slander those in authority but joyfully submit to them as a reflection of our joyful submission to the true Lord (1 Pet. 2:18-23).
  • We don't shun good pay as "filthy mammon" but accept it joyfully as good stewards of God's resources, not ours.
  • We do what we can to make more money without letting that pursuit become an idol that takes us away from more important things.
  • We don't look down at career advancement as if it were a sign of pride or self promotion, but in seeking the good of others we do what we can to exert greater influence in the workplace.

PURSUE CAREER GOALS WITHOUT TURNING THEM INTO IDOLS

A Biblical principle from Abraham to Acts is that God's people exist to bring God's blessing to those around them. Sometimes we struggle to see how doing so squares with our own goals and ambitions. Personal career goals are good and important. It's good to be ambitious and entrepreneurial, but our work goals should never be ultimate or they will consume us. Goals are good but they make terrible God-substitutes. So don't let them become that.

If we have to sacrifice faithfulness in the home or in our church to pursue a career goal, it's likely the goal itself has risen to a place of ultimate importance. Temporarily adjusting a role you play to accommodate a season of work life is one thing. Maybe you can't coach soccer again this year. Maybe you can only serve in one area in your church rather than two or three. But God will never call us to obey him in one area if doing so requires disobeying him another area. If you hear that voice calling, it's the work-idol seeking to sabotage the throne of your heart. So do what you can to achieve your career goals without ever letting those goals become your idols.

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