Should Christians Be the Best Employees?

The Bible has plenty to say about the way a Christian functions in the workplace. In addition to Christian virtues like integrity, reliability, and industry, it provides direct commands for employees (in our context) to submit to their employers (Ephesians 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25). Thus, I’ve argued during a number of sermons that the Christian should be “the best employee his company has.”

That sounds fine, but a recent conversation I had makes me doubt if it’s really true. The Christian’s values may sometimes actually prevent him from working as hard as unbelievers, who may be willing to prioritize their work over family and faith in a way the believer cannot. Must not. Most jobs will include long hours (at least on occasion), business trips, times on call, etc. So we work hard, thankful to even have a job. But our careers cannot be our obsession, whether the motivation be getting promoted or getting ahead. Being the guy in the office who never says no to an assignment could actually indicate worldliness, covetousness, and unwholesome ambition rather than Christian virtue.

Scripture calls for faithfulness in the workplace, but for some, working too hard could become as sinful as not working hard enough.

Think?

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6 Responses

  1. I agree with your assessment. The Biblical message concerning work is not work long hours all of the time, but work hard all the time. Do all unto the glory of God, which may be at odds with the glory of the company sometimes.

  2. Chris,

    I have been saying the same thing for years. There are only so many hours in a day that a man can devote to different things. I know I could probably provide more value to my company, and thus be a better employee, if I devoted more time to being on the job and more time to increasing my skills during off-hours. Instead of taking seminary classes, preparing SS lessons, serving in various capacities at church, and spending time with my wife and children, I could be doing any number of things that would greatly aid my professional development. There are guys I know at my job who basically work and sleep, and they are great assists to the company, but maybe not the best parents and really not involved with church (any church) at all. It boils down to priorities and a balanced Christian just isn’t going to sacrifice his service for God and family for getting ahead at the job.

    In different types of career fields and jobs, where being better means being honest, conscientious, hard working, and other moral-type qualities, then a Christian maybe has a leg up because he is going to strive after those things as he works to serve the Lord in his job. The unsaved can certainly exhibit those qualities, too, though.

    Andy

  3. One of the many reasons I don’t miss working in academia. For researchers in academic insitutions, it has become necessary that you prioritise your work above ALL else – or risk losing your tenuous position. Publish or perish: what’s eating the sciences today. Not to mention that any sort of “mainstream” religious beliefs are often subtly, but effectively, frowned upon. To say the least.

    You’re right, Chris. There is a line after which being a “good” employee can have a negative effect on a Christian’s testimony. Wisdom and discernment are crucial. Perhaps churches should emphasise more the biblical perspective of the Christian and his/her career? Young people will especially benefit from a counterview to the money/success obsession they’re fed from the world.

  4. Furthermore, a Christian who will not bend rules or break laws may not produce as well as his less ethical coworkers. I am delivering pizza right now. I will never be the most productive delivery person because I will not speed. Same thing holds true in other venues I think.

  5. I would also agree. This past week my employer had a major breakdown at the Distribution Center that I work at. We did no productive work all day long for 9 and 1/2 hours. They then came and said Saturday was mandatory, and were asking for volunteers for Sunday. My boss didn’t even bother asking me because he knew I’d say no because of that it would be working on the Lords Day. But if I was their best employee, I would have jumped up and said I’ll be here for you. With that being said, even despite my not being able to work Sundays, if they ever have a special project that needs done, they normally always ask me if I want to do it for them simply because they know I will get the job done and get it done right. I don’t have that work ethic for worldly gain, but because we are told to work as if we’re working for Christ himself.

  6. Alot of what you say makes since. But I think maybe what is failing to be mentioned is longevity of employees. People who break the rules tend to eventually pay the price or their companies do. People without balance in life, end up divorced, drunk, addicted to something, or burned out. None of which ends up helping the company in the long term. Yes it is true that some very agressive individuals who don’t believe can raise the value of the stock of a company. But when it is not on a sound foundation of good values, it usually comes crashing done in the end.

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