Who doesn’t want to be more successful in their work? How can you and God work together to do that? From the breakfast table to the boardroom–at home, at school, in the office, in ministry, wherever and whatever you call “work,” here are five ways to make that work more successful:
1. Change Employers
Sound radical, a bit impossible? Not really. No matter who signs your paycheck, make a conscious decision to make God your employer. “And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God” (Ephesians 6:7, MSG). There’s something about doing our work for Christ that empowers us and frees us to let our best work shine through. Considering Him as your employer may not raise your salary or change your circumstances, but it will change you.
2. Change Your Commitment
In the same vein, commit your work–and the results to God. Trust Him for your success, making excellence your goal, not a higher paycheck or more applause. “Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, TLB). When the Lord is in control, He will make your work successful–in the way He wants it to be. Be prepared for a few surprises along the way. His idea of success is usually different from ours. But it’s always good.
3. Change Your Focus
Make others your constant focus rather than yourself. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (*Philippians 2:3, NASB). I made a mental note recently of three various groups/people who exemplified this one principle in some simple ways, and it made all the difference.
When we grabbed a nearby “In-and-Out” burger recently, I noticed something different about the cups the server handed us. Two straws were already stuck in our cups of water, but the top of the straw was intact for us to pull off. A little thing, but I appreciated it. And most “Chick-Fil-A” customers can testify to their “people first” philosophy. Every employee has been trained to answer any and every request with, “My pleasure.”
A third incident occurred at a local Mexican food restaurant. The waitress had the most beautiful smile that made our dining experience just a little more special. She cared enough to give her very best service for two people she didn’t even know. As someone once said, “It takes so little to be above average.”
People notice when you care about making others more successful than yourself, about using the Golden Rule, and about treating others as special guests rather than bothersome interruptions. Find every opportunity you can to go the second mile.
4. Change Your Priorities
All of these ways overlap, but in all of our work, we face the challenge of balance. It’s easy to get overloaded and out of focus, whether it’s in our work at home or at an outside job. And we’ve all done that. Sometimes that requires making tough choices. But if we’re working for God and if our work is committed to Him, He will help us keep those priorities in the right place. Sometimes it helps me to think of life like an old-fashioned wheel with spokes. Jesus is in the center of that wheel. Everything else revolves around Him.
When Martha‘s “work” in preparing the meal for Jesus and her large crowd interfered with a greater priority, Jesus chastised her. Martha saw her sister Mary as indifferent and lazy. Instead of helping her, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, scooping up every precious bit of wisdom He offered. But Jesus reminded Martha: “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42, MSG). Jesus is the main course, the hub of the wheel, the One who makes all our work worthwhile, whether we are “listening” or “serving,” whether we work for minimum wage or prestigious benefits, whether our “work” draws a paycheck or not, He is our true employer, and He will keep work, family–and life–in balance, if we only let Him.
Ask God to Change Your Heart and Your Goal
Having trouble with 1-4? Everyone does at one time or another, me included. I love what Oswald Chambers says: “We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself….It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.”1
In other words, God is more interested in our character and in our reflection of His. I highly suspect that would qualify as successful in His eyes. Our work does matter to God. But His business is long-term, with eternal benefits–and He’s in the people business. Ask Him to change your heart, your attitude, and your life so that you can truly reflect Him in every part of your life, including your work.
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 (Colossians 3:17, NIV).
1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, (c) 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd. (Discovery House Publications: Grand Rapids, Michigan), July 28.
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord, You are a wonderful employer–the best! We commit our work to you, no matter what our work involves, and we ask you to make our work successful. Teach us Your ways, and to love You and others more than ourselves. We desire to bring You glory and to reflect the image of Christ daily. We want Your goal to be our goal, Your purpose, ours. Help us in the hard choices, when life is unfair, to be steadfast, and to keep our eyes on You. Show us the right balance and what Your kind of success really means.
Which one of the above ways are most challenging to you? How is God helping change your focus or your priorities in order to make your work more successful?