Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.
“Slaves” and “masters.” These aren’t the terms we use today, but the workplace continues to be a setting in which we are called to live out commitment to Christ.
Employees, working under a “boss,” sometimes have it easy, and sometimes not. Regardless, respect your “boss,” Paul says, with full sincerity. Others may deride them, sloughing their duties, seeking to get by with minimal effort. Not so with you. Give them your all, not just when they can see you, but also in all those moments when you are on your own. Fulfill your job description – indeed, go above and beyond.
Why? Well because the workplace is actually holy ground. It’s a location in which you can express devotion to the Lord himself. Serve your boss as if you were serving Christ – view each task and responsibility as an opportunity for obedience to Jesus. Indeed, “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord.” Wow. If that single concept could grip our minds, the workplace would become a setting of powerful witness to Jesus, simply through the quality of service rendered by his followers.
Intensifying the issue, Paul writes similar instructions to his friends in the Colossian churches, telling them that in reality (not just attitude) “it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col 3:24). You don’t have to go on the mission field to serve the Lord – you can simply go to work.Whether at a desk, in a farmer’s field, driving a truck, teaching a class, providing childcare, doing architectural drawings, or whatever it may be, the workplace is holy ground. Seize the opportunity. Glorify Christ.
And “bosses,” you should do the same. Understand well that you yourself have a “Boss” in heaven, the Lord Christ – so serve him in your oversight of those who report to you. Don’t be heavy-handed. Don’t use threats and intimidation. Don’t exercise favouritism. Communicate clearly. Exercise wisdom and compassion. As much as it depends on you, nurture the workplace as a setting for safety and community and creative productivity.
When offered to the Lord, work is holy. Live your offering well.
Lord Jesus, I place before you my place of work and my role in it. I give to you the joys and the challenges, those I find easy to deal with and those with whom I struggle. I gratefully yield to the presence of your Spirit to strengthen me to serve well in every aspect. Be honoured through the work of my hands. To your name be glory. Amen.
Reflect: Consider the workplace. If you have a boss, how can you better honour them in the days ahead? Ask the Lord’s help. If you are a boss, what person and circumstance do you find most difficult to handle? Ask the Lord’s help. If you are not currently in the workforce, pray specifically for someone you know who is. Ask the Lord’s blessing.