A common misconception among Christians is that their work is not spiritual, that a regular 9-to-5 day cannot be sacred. If they’re going to do anything spiritual or ministry-oriented, it’ll have to happen around these occupied time slots. But this implies that everybody needs to be a full-time pastor of some kind if they’re going to be “spiritual” for the better part of the day and week. The misconception that normal work is not spiritual is both inaccurate and damaging.
Work is very spiritual. In fact, God invented work. Work was present in the garden of Eden prior to the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve were given responsibility to tend the garden, and their work was enjoyable and honorable to God. When sin entered the world, yes— work became tainted with sweat, difficult bosses, Microsoft Excel, and frustrating situations at the office, but the concept of work is still very spiritual. When we spend forever with God in heaven, we will have work and industry to accomplish.
So don’t ever give the impression that work is mundane and insignificant. God desires Christians to bring their best to their profession so the city and culture will benefit and its people will be served well. Martin Luther believed that all professions were sacred, that “God Himself was milking the cows through the profession of the milkmaid.”
In the workplace, believers are given an opportunity through the gospel to serve in several different directions—upward, downward, and laterally. Serving upward means consistently working hard, knowing you ultimately work for the Lord. Believers should be the best employees on the job because they realize their work is truly done for God’s glory. Serving one’s supervisor well is a means of serving Christ well. And if a believer works for another believer, he should serve that person even better (1 Tim. 6:1–2).
Believers who are supervising others are given the opportunity to serve downward. By treating employees well and fairly, calling out the best of their gifts, the supervisor honors his or her ultimate Boss in heaven, who sees everything that’s done on the job . . . and who is not impressed with the lines and boxes on the org chart (Col. 4:1).
Most believers are also given the opportunity to serve laterally, assisting the colleagues who work alongside them. Because of the gospel, believers should encourage and serve these who are equal to them in responsibility, without being a burden to them, without being the slouch at the office who must continually be bailed out by others. One of the best ways a believer serves those who work alongside him is just to do his job well (1 Thess. 4:9–12). That alone is more spiritual and gospel-centric than many people realize.