Have you ever left a job for one you thought would be better? Do you want to leave the job you have now? In American Christianity there are several areas of our lives that are so culturally acceptable, we are unable to see how far off we are from God's desires for us. For example, materialism: very few Americans are content with just food, shelter and clothing (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Another example is work. Like we talked about at the Porch on Tuesday, so many of us are chasing our passions in and out of multiple jobs with no regard for how we are representing Christ in doing so.
When God made the universe, He worked (Genesis 2:2). God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), which – among other things – means that God made us to work. God gave man work to do when the world was still perfect (Genesis 2:15). Notice that this is before sin entered the world in Genesis 3. Work is not a result of sin! When sin entered the world, work became difficult. Work itself wasn't cursed, but the ground man worked was. Now the broken world wars against our work.
Looking forward, we will work in heaven, but there will be no curse on it (Revelation 22:3). We will work and not grow weary – our work will be a joy. For those of you who looked up that verse and didn’t see the word “work” anywhere . . . keep reading.
If work existed before sin, and exists in eternity where there is no sin, and we were made to bear the image of God, then a part of our work is to reveal God's kingdom here. We should try to display God's loving character in our work as much as we can. We should be our coworkers' favorite colleague in the way we help them, work hard, and exceed expectations.
The Bible addresses difficult work environments in several passages like Ephesians 6, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 2. Why does the Bible give so much instruction to “slaves” and “masters”? This was in many ways the employee/employer relationship of that time (Read more on that here). While this wasn't the racial slavery in our country's tragic history, it was often a harsh working environment. These verses remove our excuse not to excel in a difficult work environment. I saw this quote the other day and it resonated with me: “When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things?”
While there are lots of biblical commands for how slaves (employees) should act in harsh work environments, there is no instruction for them to ever leave. So, when should we leave a job?
Most often we leave for a better opportunity. Better usually means "more money" or "more freedom". I'm afraid when we are face-to-face with Jesus and He asks, "why did you leave that mission field I had you in?", We will have no better response than "because I could make more money, Jesus."
Your job is a primary means of you advancing the Kingdom of God. God placed you there on purpose, so give careful consideration to what He might be doing there before you leave. Here are some questions to ask if you’re thinking about leaving your job. (Also check out another Porch blog post, “What to do if you hate your job”.)
Would I leave my job better than I found it? (Do my coworkers agree?)
Has my work ethic made the teachings of Jesus more attractive? (Titus 2:10)
Have I worked in a way that silences my critics? (1 Peter 2:15)
Do I want to follow my passions elsewhere?
What skill do I hope to develop in a new opportunity that I can’t develop here?
Have I prayed, read Scripture, and sought the advice of wise godly people?
Do I trust that my reward from the Lord for working for Him is better than any promotion or reward I'll receive here? (Colossians 3:24)
Am I being called to a new mission field, or am I simply leaving an uncomfortable environment?
How does my leaving advance the kingdom?
Don’t just answer those questions by yourself. If you go through them already wanting to leave your job, you’re likely to answer them in a way that justifies the decision you want to make. Instead, follow the advice of Proverbs 15:22 and get counsel from other wise people who know you and who know God’s Word.
If you were born between 1980 and 2000, you have been pretty much brainwashed to "follow your passions". The term hardly existed in print before 1980, and then it skyrocketed in use with the birth of Millennials.
Your great-grandfather most likely never questioned his passions. He probably didn't give much consideration to what he wanted to do. He didn't take Strengthsfinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or have any idea if he was a "lion, otter, beaver, or retriever". He did the work that was in front of him. He most likely did the work that his dad did, and what needed to be done to survive. And he was probably much happier than you in doing so.
I know we've evolved, and now we can match personalities to specific jobs. These advancements, however, have not made us happier. We have lower job satisfaction than ever. We jump between jobs more than ever. We stay at jobs for less time than ever. And we'd be hard-pressed to compare our work ethic to that of our ancestors. We are not getting better at this, and I believe it is simply because we've moved away from God's values. We have embraced cultural norms over biblical mandates.
Remember the reference to Revelation 22:3 above? It says “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (NIV) But wait – what does that say about work?
The Greek word translated as “serve” in that verse also means “to worship” or “to serve for hire” . . . that sounds a lot like work, doesn’t it! It’s a very similar idea to the Hebrew word “adovah” that’s used to describe work in Genesis 2:15. Adovah means to labor, to work, to worship, and to serve. We compartmentalize each of these actions, but God doesn't. He receives your work as worship! It is the service you will be doing much of in heaven. It is also an opportunity for you to display heaven to others today.