No matter what you do vocationally, whether you’re a full-time pastor, bi-vocational pastor, or a lay leader working another job, your work life matters to God.
And since you’ll spend 40 percent of your waking hours at a job, the hours you spend at work are a big part of what God wants to do in your life.
The Bible says, “Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 TLB). That’s an amazing promise every one of us can claim. Notice there is a premise to that promise, though. God says we need to commit our work to him in order to succeed.
How do we do that? The Bible gives us four keys to committing our work to God:
- Seek God’s direction.
“The Lord is pleased when good people pray” (Proverbs 15:8 GNT).
Over and over in the book of Proverbs, the Bible tells us that planning and prayer go together. In the same way you can’t score a touchdown without a game plan, you need more than hard work to succeed. It takes prayer and planning too.
I’ll admit that it’s much more fun to be spontaneous, but that’s not the best way to live. Successful people think further ahead than people who are unsuccessful. That’s why it’s important to ask God, “Where do you want me to be in 15 years?” Then write what God tells you.
- Sharpen your skills.
“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV).
Develop the talents God gave you and never stop learning. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 10:10 that skill brings success. In other words, work smarter, not harder. If I have a dull ax and I’m chopping wood, it will take more energy, but with a sharp ax, the opposite is true.
God teaches the importance of sharpening your skills throughout Scripture. Look at Joseph, Daniel, and David. Like cream rises to the top, they rose to the top in the midst of bad circumstances because they kept their skills sharp and never stopped learning.
All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.
How do you sharpen your skills? First, you learn from trial and error. It’s painful, but experience is a great teacher. But the experience of others can be an even greater guide. None of us have enough time to make all the mistakes ourselves, so learn from others what to do and what to avoid
- Share the profit.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV).
Tithing—giving a tenth of your income back to the Lord—is part of what it means to commit your work to God. Notice in Proverbs 3:9-10, there’s a promise and a premise. You give the Lord a tenth of your income, and he’ll bless your work.
A few years back, I read a story about a young man who began a small cheese business in Chicago. He failed miserably and went deep into debt. A friend told him, “The problem is you didn’t commit your business to God, and you haven’t worked with his help.” The young man said, “If God wants to run this cheese business, then he can do it. I’ll work for him and with him and share the profits.” From that moment on, God became the senior partner in his business. It prospered and became the largest cheese company in the world. The young man’s name was J. L. Kraft.
- Stay with it.
“Steady plodding brings prosperity” (Proverbs 21:5 TLB).
You conquer by continuing. You become a success simply by outlasting your critics. The Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was asked why the British army was so successful. He said it was because the British army has been trained to always fight an additional five minutes longer than anyone else.
Most people give up too soon. Successful people don’t know how to quit on their dream.
Everyone feels like giving up at certain times. To keep on keeping on when you get discouraged, you need to understand motivation.
Many people are committed to their work because of external motivations (getting a paycheck) or internal motivations (feeling good). Those motivations are okay, but they won’t keep you going when you feel like quitting.
You need eternal motivation. You need to remind yourself that you’re working for the Lord, as Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans” (GW).
One part of your testimony is how you work. Your work testimony either leads people toward Jesus or away from him.
God wants you to have a successful work life. Will you give your work to him so he can help it flourish?