Reflections on Work
These short reflections are designed to help you see your own work situation through a Biblical lens. Each one might take you 20 minutes or so. Perfect for a coffee break!
If they bring up particular issues that you’d like to discuss further, we’d be delighted to help. Do get in touch!
Reflection 1: What's the purpose of my work?
Think back over your working life so far. What have you found fulfilling? What have you found discouraging? And what would your ideal job look like?
The beginning and end of the Bible show us that God has a purpose for our work. It’s a purpose which gives us great dignity, whether we are employed or not!
Read Genesis 1:26-28
- How does mankind’s task show that we are made in God’s image?
- How does your own field of work contribute to this task?
For example, a retail worker organises items in the shop so that customers can find them and be blessed. A teacher helps children learn about the beautiful world God has made for them. An accountant checks that the finances are in order and honouring to God.
- In light of these verses, is it right to regard one job as more dignified than another?
- We are to subdue the earth under God’s rule. Does this need to involve a pay check?
Read Revelation 22:1-5
- What will Christian believers be doing in eternity? How are we already doing this?
- How might this understanding change your perspective on work today?
- How could it give you purpose during periods of unemployment or retirement?
Pray that God will help you see His purposes in your own situation.
Reflection 2: Why is my work so hard?
What have you found difficult about the jobs you’ve had? Try to be specific. Was it the nature of the work itself? Tricky relationships with your colleagues? The uncertainty? Ethical dilemmas? Something else?
Read Genesis 3:11-20
- What is work like in a fallen world? Why do you think this still surprises us?
Read Ecclesiastes 2:15-25
- Do verses 15-23 reflect your own experiences of work?
- Do verses 24-25 describe what you want from your job? If not, what else are you hoping for?
- The writer of Ecclesiastes ends his book with a wise conclusion: live in the light of the coming judgement (12:13-14). How will Jesus’ return resolve all the problems we saw in 2:15-23?
Hint: in the book of Ecclesiastes, the word translated ‘meaningless’ literally means ‘like a mist’. In other words, work is temporary! And ‘under the sun’ means the period we’re living in now, before Jesus returns. Things won’t be like this forever!
Pray for perseverance and wisdom in your own circumstances, as we await the return of Jesus.
Reflection 3: What do I want from work?
Have you been frustrated when someone else gets a job that you felt you deserved? If you are currently working, would you like a promotion and why? What would you like to achieve by the time you retire?
Read Genesis 11:1-9
- How have you seen this tower-building attitude at work?
- How have you seen it in your own attitude to work?
- How is it different from the instruction we saw in Genesis 1:26-28?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
- What wrong attitudes about work are being addressed here?
- How could you obey verses 11-12 during a period of unemployment?
Note: In the 1st century there was no welfare state: verse 12 should not prevent us from claiming unemployment benefits! But how do we use our time usefully while searching for paid work?
Read Titus 3:1-8
- Where does your identity come from? How might this liberate you, whether you are in work or out of work?
- Do you think it is helpful or unhelpful to have career goals?
Pray for a godly identity and godly ambitions in your work life.
Reflection 4: How can I be content?
The Bible urges Christians to rejoice in the gospel whatever our circumstances. But it doesn’t feel easy if we are unemployed with bills to pay, or if we are in work and feeling anxious.
Read Philippians 4:4-13
- How are verses 4-7 different to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On?’
- What exactly was Paul’s secret to contentment?
- Are you bringing your anxieties to God in the way Paul describes in verse 6?
Read Colossians 3:22 to 4:1
- How would this instruction help you in a difficult workplace?
Note: In verse 24, Paul is not saying that your inheritance in heaven depends on how hard you work. Rather, your motivation in work is the certain inheritance that he already described in chapter 1 verse 12.
Read Acts 2:42-47
- What are the different ways in which the church family support each other?
- What might be preventing you from seeking help?
Pray for contentment in Jesus and connection with the church family as you approach the challenging weeks ahead.
Reflection 5: How should I deal with injustice?
Injustice in the workplace can take many forms. Being underpaid or sacked unfairly. Colleagues stealing your ideas, or misrepresenting you in front of the boss. What kind of injustice have you experienced?
Read Proverbs 29:7 and Romans 1:28-42.
- How do these verses explain the injustice that you’ve experienced?
Read Matthew 12:15-21
- By quoting from Isaiah 42, what is Jesus saying about himself?
- When can we expect this justice ultimately? Hint: see Acts 17:31.
Read Luke 18:1-8
- How is God different from the unjust judge in this parable?
- What is the promise for Christian believers in verse 7?
Pray for the situation of injustice that you are facing. And pray for others who find themselves being treated unfairly at work.
Reflection 6: Can I show my faith at work?
In British workplaces, religious beliefs are protected by diversity legislation. But Christians can still feel intimidated about mentioning their faith. Do your colleagues know that you are a Christian?
Read 1 Peter 2:9-25
- As a Christian, what is your identity according to verse 9? And what is your mission?
- In verses 11-12, why should we behave well at work?
- Peter’s readers lived under a hostile Roman emperor. How are verses 13-17 surprising?
- Does your reverent fear of God outweigh your fear of your employer?
- How does Christ motivate and empower you to submit, even to a harsh master (verses 18-25)?
Pray for boldness in mentioning your faith at work. And pray that your integrity at work would back up what you say.