Slaves – Masters (Work Theology)
It's not what you do but how you do it that matters. This is true in how we work in this age. And how we conduct relationships at work is critical as we glorify God.
Slaves – Masters (Work Theology)Colossians 3:22-4:1
September 22, 2019
They say, it’s not what we do but how we do it that matters.
How we conduct ourselves in the work place is key. We spend so much time at work and so often with non-Christians. Let’s be fair, some non-Christians are just better at their job then we Christians. I asked people at MBM who were their best bosses. Here is what one said “my non-Christian, gay manager, at 3pm he would come down and work with us at the call centre for 1 hour”. But what a non-Christian co worker can’t do what you can is this: they can’t make Jesus look good. At work we are in relationship with people. Those above, those below, and those alongside.
1. Servant hearted like Christ.
When we say ‘Jesus is my Lord’ we are saying ‘I am a willing slave of Christ.’ In Mark 10, James and John are desperate for front row seats in the Kingdom of God. Thinking that it’s first in first serve and survival of the fittest. Jesus is clear: Boys, we are not playing the world’s game! Mark 10:42-45
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)
Jesus is clear. I want you to be like me. I did not come for my sake but yours! I came to give my life as a ransom for many! We follow Jesus who says “I am here for you!” On the building site, the factory floor, at the office, in the board room, in the class room, in the staff room or lunch room. Whether that person is my boss, my co-worker, my clients, my apprentice or those who report to me. Like Jesus, we consider others better than ourselves.
I love hearing when people say to me ‘I came to church because I saw how a member of MBM carried themselves at work and I was impressed.’ You can’t make Jesus look good if your work attitude stinks.
Work hard. Did you know that 1 out of every 20 proverbs attacks laziness? Proverbs 18:9
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (NIV)
Laziness is a form of theft, stealing from your boss, abandoning your co-workers, neglecting your clients and ripping off your students.
- If you’re down to do a job – do it as best you can.
- If its chores at home or study – give it your best.
- If you’re unemployed – look hard for a job
- If you’re working for the dole – work like you’re getting paid.
- If you’re on sick leave – rest well and work at getting better.
Sluggards are filled with excuses Proverbs 22:13
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!” (NIV)
“The jobs too far away”, “Interview is too early”, “Work is too boring”, “I don’t have transport”, “I’m overqualified”. The general rhythm of life should be – work hard, rest well.
You may not be the best at your job. That is ok! But be the best you can be. One man said “my best boss was, a Hindu man who taught me to learn from every new experience.” He said “Always ask yourself C.A.N. I. – Constant And Never-ending Improvement”. We won’t get better if we don’t ask, consult, learn, study and welcome feedback. Pride is the great enemy of people getting better at their job. Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (NIV)
I’m a much better pastor since I have had a mentor, every staff member at MBM must have a mentor. I suggest you get one as well.
We also need to be wise in how dealing with people, especially when conflict arises. Here are 11 thoughts when it does
- Try to understand the issue fully before speaking.
- Train yourself to think the best when you disagree. Ask yourself what is the other person trying to guard that you can affirm. Avoid judging motives.
- Don’t react to the first issue, let it go.
- If you have been repeatedly hurt go straight to the person. You only break this rule, if there is bullying or sexual harassment or children are involved.
- Do not use emails or text message, facebook or twitter to communicate criticism. They only make matters worse.
- Your first goal is not to have the person listen and agree with you. Your goal is to speak clearly and in a tone that is respectful even if they are not.
- If the other person escalates by shouting, swearing, berating or threatening, then end the conversation. I had a person speak to me on the phone. He was shouting and swearing. I said, ‘I want to hear what you’re saying but you need to stop swearing and shouting otherwise I will hang up!’ They didn’t so, I hung up. They called me back, ‘Did you hang up?’ ‘I said I want to hear you but you need to stop shouting and swearing at me.’ I hung up 3 times. I didn’t shout and I wanted to hear his concerns. Eventually, the man learnt.
- When the problem escalates you need to bring in a third party in.
- Don’t be shocked when the same problems re-occur. We are all fallible humans.
- Explore what system of appeals are available. In small family businesses probably no system in place. Take counsel with wise Christians in the business world.
- Remember you are free to leave, but you are not free to stay and bad mouth others. Just because others started it badly doesn’t mean you are justified in ending it badly.
4. Work honestly
You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly. (NIV)
Deal fairly with your customers – don’t rip them off. Deal justly with your workers – pay them what is right. Deal properly with your co-workers – help them out. Deal honestly with your boss-don’t claim hours you have not worked. Deal truthfully with your government-pay your taxes.
I know that has meant some of you have lost your jobs, some of you have lost your businesses. Still others missed on promotion because you would not lie, cheat or because someone took credit for work you did. This is the price for having Jesus as Lord. Great will be your reward.
Integrity means to work respectfully. All of work is tied to relationships. In Colossians, the slave is to work respectfully for his master, Colossians 3:22-25.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (NIV)
In Australia, we are anti-authority. In Christ we show respect to those in authority even when they are wrong on some matter. Work hard not just when the boss is watching.
Jesus is saying to us “I want you to work hard not just for your boss, I want you to do it for me” with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.
Jesus says, “I will remember your work and I will give you an eternal bonus even if your boss doesn’t. Even if he is not watching I am.” So those 8-12 hours you spend at work, they are 8-12 hours you get to glorify God as much as our missionaries on the field.
If relationships are key at our workplace then our words are precious Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)
Which one of these words do you need to work on?
- Words that refuse to gossip and slander
- Words that build up and encourage
- Words that are spoken with gentleness and grace
- Words that carry truth in love
- Words that are marked by unqualified apologies.
- Words that will not lie no matter what pressure is brought to bear.
- Words that will not use smutty humour.
- Words that speak of Jesus and his grace.
It pays to explain early on even in the interview that you’re a Christian and that you won’t lie or cheat.
A special word on swearing – Some workplaces can feel like there is no option but to swear, especially building sites, police, army, correctional services, trades, sports fields and staff rooms. It’s a lie that says you can’t do your job without swearing. If you can’t resist the pressure, then leave the job. Don’t violate your conscience. Christians have worked in your job and kept language pure. Twice I remember talking to a Christian NRL player who was told by his coach, “My aim is to make you swear like a man.” That coach lost his job within 12 months and that player went on to model Christ-likeness masculinity without swearing.
God wants to see love at work…in our relationships at work. Without love we gain nothing – are nothing. In 1 Corinthians 13 there are 16 things love will and won’t do, we pick up on a couple. Love is Kind.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (NIV)
Love is Kind. That is exactly how God treats his people who rebel, kindness that wants to help someone new at work, kindness that helps a person struggling with their workload, kindness that goes the extra mile for a customer.
People are often starved of encouragement at work. I once walked into my usual Mcdonalds and as I was walking in my two McCafe ladies, Mel and Alli, had my flat white, half strength, skim milk with artificial sweetener ready to drink. I said ‘you ladies are brilliant,’ I was so impressed I called Mcdonald’s head office to rave about their service. Their boss got a special call and he then encouraged them. What I did was not that big but their reaction was so grateful. I was then reminded how little we encourage people at work. Our workplaces are so often starved of kind words and kind deeds.
Can you imagine how good Jesus would look if you intentionally encouraged others by words, text, email or a handwritten letter. Love is described not just by what we do but what we don’t do, it does not envy. Someone from 6pm said ‘I didn’t think I was proud and envious until someone else got the job I applied for.’ Love means you let people know that you are happy for their success. Love wants to encourage, envy wants to withhold encouragement.
Like Jesus – Love keeps no record of wrongs. Even when you didn’t get the job because of favoritism, even when a small mistake causes your boss to lose his temper, even when your customers are so rude and demanding. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Love doesn’t keep score of the mistakes of others
If a person from your work or place of study came to church today and saw you singing, praying or serving, will they get a shock and say ‘I had no idea you’re a Christian’ or will they say ‘that doesn’t surprise one bit, I knew there was something different about, and I liked what I saw.’