What the Private Sector Teaches Us about Work Ethic | Week 34
By: Kristyn Miller
By: Kristyn Miller
The Act of Doing Well
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you are working for the Lord and not for men.
Our work matters.
Everything that we do on this earth carries real and tangible consequences, in both now in this life and into eternity.
I am not the best person to be writing a reflection for a week on business classes, seeing as I have taken a total of 0 business courses in my lifetime and worked in the non-profit field before coming here to TFA. In fact, I have been known to joke both lightly and seriously about how I believe that “business” is inherently evil. After all, I have struggled to find a satisfactory answer for years now to the question: how could one devote themselves to “maximizing earnings”, or to “investing profit” into something that “didn’t matter”—according to my unfounded and entirely judgmental opinion—instead of doing something that “was good” and “really mattered”?
Actually, for all these reasons, this last week was the best week for me to write a blog. This week, I was more challenged and convicted over judgmental personal opinion and condemnation than I think I might have been thus far in my TFA experience.
If I am being entirely honest, I came into the week with a set of prejudices and assumptions about “business” that were baseless and naïve. I said ridiculous and accusatory things like, “People in business only care about profit, not about people,” or, “The free market is a vehicle which more readily exploits workers and consumers,” and a slew of other complaints. While some of my concerns with business—large corporate business, really (I know, I sound like a typical millennial)—are still left unresolved, this week gave me a new appreciation for the importance of work and the dignity that is given to a person through making, whether it’s a product, idea, or experience.
Paul wrote to the church in Colossae a letter serving as a reminder of the transformative power of salvation, one that makes us alive in Christ (chapter 2) and allows us to put on a new self, which glorifies God (chapter 3). As an encouragement to continue on in the commandments of conduct and good works they had previously received, he writes:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you are working for the Lord and not for men. — Colossians 3:23
This past week, I, too, was convicted and reminded of Paul’s words about how everything that I do matters. Whatever it is that I do, I am to do it with all of my heart, as though that work were a gift being packaged especially for God—not my boss, not my professors, not my friends, but for God Himself.
This last week, we discussed a lot about the dignity of work, the ability to earn a means for security and provision (be it financial or otherwise) for yourself, and the value that good products provide in one’s personal life. All of these discussions were not the type of work being done or for whom the work was being done. Rather, at the heart of these conversations was the ethic, the integrity, in which the work was being done.
While our work matters, the way in which we go about our work matters even more. We know throughout Scripture that we are to do work, and good work at that, work that brings justice and restoration into this world. But what matters even more is the heart and spirit in which the work is being done.
It is fair to say that in the private sector, there is a particular priority placed on quality than in other fields. Quality of service, quality of product, and quality of experience drive competition between businesses, and whoever provides the best quality for the lowest cost gains the support of investors and customers. Wrapped up in this idea of quality is the motivation for a strong and diligent work ethic.
Paul teaches us about work ethic in the book of Romans as well:
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. — Romans 12:11
We are to take zeal, to maintain a spiritual fervor, in all that we do. Why? Because we are serving the Lord. All of our work is a form of worship. It serves and honors God for us to commit ourselves to Him in zeal, fervor, and heart.
In all things, we are to work with urgency and diligence, knowing that our work matters, that we are to have dignity in all action, and that quality of service, product, and experience really translate into a quality of worship which should please our Maker.