Some have a tendency to think that being a doctor in business for myself is glamorous. What isn’t seen by most is the long hours, the unpaid claims, and the difficulty finding good help.
We have been blessed over almost two decades to have a few real stellar employees who could have been poster children for good work ethics.
Recently, because of life changes and family needs, the stability of our own staffing situation has changed and we’ve had to go out and search the labor pool for new qualified applicants to bring into our private practice family. Yet this time it hasn’t been so easy to find those applicants.
I was recently lamenting to another doctor friend of mine and he remarked, “We’re in the same position! It’s so hard to find people with a good work ethic these days. They just want to show up to work, look pretty, and get paid.”
Our discussion started me thinking. What does the Bible say about having a work ethic? Am I expecting too much out of people? Or not enough? Do I have a good work ethic according to Scripture?
In my search, I found 7 Scriptural guidelines regarding work ethic.
I. Let God Direct Your Work
Jesus was our ultimate example. Jesus did nothing but what God directed Him to do.
“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’” (John 5:19)
Our first goal should be to seek God’s will for our lives and do what He has directed us to do.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17)
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11)
We must remember that God has an individual plan for each of us.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
He has declared that his plans for each of us are good.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Comparison never serves us well because we cannot compare our abilities and talents with God’s plan for someone else. We must stay in our own lane, and pray for God to reveal His plan for our own lives.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
II. Work for the Lord, not man.
Jesus was a model to us of discipline, sacrifice, integrity, devotion, persistence, and faithfulness to His Father.
In our efforts, we work for the Lord, and that should provide the impetus to do the best job possible.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Imagine if we were working directly for God. If we worked for God, we would never be late, or take too long of a lunch break, or spend time on our iPhones or Facebook during the workday, or not care about the consequences if we didn’t show up for work one day.
If we worked for God, we would happily and eagerly learn all everything we needed to know in order to fulfill the ongoing requirements of our position.
As Jesus’s disciples in this world, to honor His name, we should give our employers no less courtesy than if we were working directly for God.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:7-8)
Scripture teaches us that whether we are talking about our vocation, ministry, parenting, or some other endeavor, we should always do our best.
“Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11
III. Put Others Ahead of Ourselves & Remember Who You are Representing
Our attitude is just as important as our work activity. Others will see our example and be drawn to it or repelled by it.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Our behavior reflects our attitude. For example, if we regularly show up late or take time off, it reflects a lack of loyalty, and lack of commitment to the job you signed up to do.
- Show up early, stay a little late.
- Do the job to the best of your ability.
- Be kind, never accuse or gossip.
- Show respect to your boss and those in authority.
- Be a team player; help others where you can.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
It seems almost too simple to need saying, but Jesus knew the importance of teaching it, and it bears repeating here. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
Remember, you reap what you sow.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” (Matthew 7:12)
In our employment, vocation, ministry, worship, relationships, etc., we must be continually aware of what we are displaying—flesh or Savior. It’s a daily choice. Our attitude and behavior is displayed both to others and to God.
When we emulate Christ’s character in the workplace, our work is another form of worship to God.
IV. Do Not Expect Something for Nothing
According to the Word, a good work ethic commands that we expect to work hard and not expect something for nothing.
We must be diligent in our efforts; Give not only what is expected, but a little more.
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9)
“Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:8)
We should not engage in idle behavior or conversation. When our own work is done, help others.
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” (Psalm 128:2)
V. Work With Honesty and With Diligence
At a very basic level, a good work ethic is exchanging our time and skills for an employer’s money. Once we take a position, we owe our employer our time and skills as promised, to the best of our ability. To do any less is theft.
Whether in an employee position, volunteer, or ministry, we should care for our supervisor’s business as if it were our own.
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)
“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24)
Then after we have worked for an honest wage, Scripture encourages us to use what we have to help others.
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)
VI. Work Hard but Trust God for the Rest
While Scripture clearly calls us to work hard and diligently to the best of our ability, we must also be willing to trust God for the outcome of our efforts.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
So often we want the miracles without any effort on our part. As a Christ follower, we often get the privilege of seeing the miraculous, but God also calls us to a life of self-discipline. We shouldn’t eat our way to poor health then pray for a miraculous healing of our body, or gamble our way into financial ruin, then pray for God to deliver us from the financial mess we created.
There can be a tendency on the other hand, to assume the false identity of being our own provider, when God has promised to provide for all of our needs.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
There should be a balance. While we must work hard, we must trust that the ultimate outcome rests with God. God offered us the gift of Sabbath as a blessing for us, not for Him. It is a gift to us, and when we take time to rest on the Sabbath, we demonstrate our trust in God for the results of our labor.
“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” (Exodus 20:9-10)
“And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
VII. Be Positive, Demonstrating the Fruits of the Spirit
We must remember we may be the only representation of Jesus that some people see all day. We should cheerfully work hard every day, maintain high ethical standards and integrity, and work without complaining.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
We should be loyal to our employers and supervisors, and treat coworkers and colleagues with kindness and compassion.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Colossians 3:12)
Let us strive to always bring up morale.
“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)
Finally, always be willing to give an explanation for why we work hard, in order to honor God.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)
When you inspect your own heart today, do you display a good work ethic or are there areas you can fine tune?
How have you seen a good work ethic displayed in your own sphere of influence? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!