Jan 25, 2011

Our lives preach all the week

Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity says in Thank God it’s Monday;

Our lives are under constant scrutiny at work. We spend more time there than anywhere else. We spend more time with co-workers than anyone else. They see when we succeed, when we fail, when we remain joyful in tough circumstances, when we cancel social engagements, when we are asked to work on Sundays, when we are promoted, when we are tired and hungry. Our lives preach all the week.

This last Sunday at City Church we thought what it might means for our lives to preach through our character, deeds and words at work. Let’s look at two key texts in the Pastoral epistles as we look at how the way we work can make all the difference to how Christ is received.

1. Integrity in the way we work

In 1 Timothy 6:1 Paul writes;

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered (lit. blasphemed).

In Titus 2:9-10 he also says;

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.

By working in a godly we can help make the gospel of Jesus appealing.  The word for attractive means to adorn, it’s the Greek word kosmeo from which we get the word cosmetics meaning to enhance or make something more beautiful.

It’s slightly scary to think that our lives can either slander the name of God (1Tim.6v1) or make the gospel something more attractive (Titus 2:9-10).

There is far more at stake in how we do our work than our own sense of well-being or even our own relationship with God. We have a choice to make as to what our working lives say about the gospel.

I want to take a quick look at the 5 ways in which Paul encourages us from Titus to show the integrity of the Christian as we work.

Five ways to demonstrate integrity in the way we work

  • Be subject to our bosses.  When we take a job we’re agreeing to work under the leadership of our boss. We’re given a job so do we go and do it? Even if we think they’re getting it all wrong will we respect their authority.
  • Try to please them. Are we ready to do more than the minimum? Are we looking for ways to make work better? Are we ready to work in ways that we might not gain us any reward simply because it’s best practice?
  • Don’t talk back to them. How much work-place conversation is character assassination of the boss. Can anyone explain to me why football players think shouting abuse in the face of the ref. is appropriate behaviour.
  • Don’t steal from them. On the day Lord Taylor has been found guilty of fraud for fiddling his expenses we’re reminded of why honesty matters when it comes to money. It’s not just money but time too. So we need to respect the company policy on Facebook. We should be careful of too much time in protracted conversations designed to avoid getting on with work.   How about punctuality? Turning up on time, not clocking off early or extending the lunch-break.
  • Show we can be fully trusted.  The greatest advert for the gospel is that we should earn the respect of our colleagues and bosses.If by our lives it becomes clear that we are true to our word and that we do what we say and that we are the same person doing the same work whether our boss is around or not then as and when we get an opportunity to speak of Christ our words will be accompanied by the power of the gospel that counters the culture.

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