How to Stop Wasting Your Life, Part 1
From the series Answering the Call
Do you feel like you’re wasting your life - drifting through each day, just getting by? What if every minute of every work day was an opportunity for you to worship and to acknowledge God’s goodness and provision in your life? Well it can be so. In today's message, Chip shows you how you can work for God no matter where you’re employed.
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About this series
Answering the Call
How to Discover and Fulfill God's Purpose for Your Life
God created you to work. And He created your work to be more than just "what you do for a living," but a place to fulfill God's calling in your life. According to Scripture, work is the platform where you can experience joy, ministry, and personal fulfillment like never before. If you long to experience that kind of job satisfaction, this series will help you get there. Whether it's finding a new job, starting a new career, or just gaining a new perspective on your current employment, "Answering the Call" will encourage and inspire you to see work as a gift from God.More from this series
Well, we’re going to talk about “How to Stop Wasting Your Life.”
If you looked at work as just a necessary thing, just to get over with, and can’t wait until it’s done, and not know that it’s about this thing of getting a call from God, you can see how a lot of people could waste sixty to eighty percent of their waking hours, just trying to get something over with.
And so, I did a little thinking, and I thought about, what’s in a job, anyway? How do people look at a job? And part of this – you’ll have to bear with me. This is one of those things – it might be really cute, and helpful, or it might be a bomb. Okay?
But I thought of five, oh, you’ve got to tell people, so that, if it’s a bomb, at least you can groan with me. But I came up with five paradigms of how I observe people look at a job. And maybe there are ten, maybe there are seven, I don’t know, but there are five that really seem to me that in all the places I’ve worked, or people that I’ve known, there are these different views.
And paradigm number one is work is evil and the goal is avoid it. Just put it real simple – work is evil. It’s cursed. It’s not the ground that’s cursed. Work is evil.
And so, I would introduce to you Freddie and Francis Freeloader. That’s paradigm number one. They cut every corner. They want as much as possible. They do as little as possible. They try hard not to get caught, and when they do get caught, they blame someone else. That’s one paradigm of work. We’ve all worked with a Francis or Freddie Freeloader. It’s like, every time you turn around, they’re on break. And they come in late; they leave early.
The second paradigm, the truth would be, work is everything. Work is everything. And so, they embrace it.
And my little title for this one would be William or Wilma Workaholic. Instead of going in late, they go in early. They stay late. They pay any price. They want to climb to the top.
For some, it’s not about that, is they just want to be successful. They want to make a difference. They want to prove their value. They remind the family that they’re doing it for you. They’re doing it for a better life for you, for the good life.
They constantly tell people who love them, “It’s only for a season. As soon as we get this big project done, as soon as this deal goes through. It’s just going to be a part…” Then, when everything slows down, Wilma the workaholic, or William the workaholic, is going to have this balanced life that they talk about. Work is everything, and so they embrace it.
The third paradigm is work is an obligation. Work is an obligation. And so, they endure it.
And, here, I have Ted and Terri TGIF-erson. Like I said, it could be cute, could be a bomb – you be the judge.
But what they do is, they work hard. They do a good job. They don’t like it, most of the time, but it’s a living. It pays the bills. They can’t wait for Friday, because when Friday comes, they can get home, and they can coach the kid’s team sport. They can hang out with friends. They even teach a Bible study at church, and play golf, now and then, whenever possible.
And so, they’re good people. They do a good job. They don’t like their job; they want to get their job over with. They’re engaged with their family. They’re doing good things on the weekend. But life really is, How do I get through these yicky five days, that are a pain in the rear, in order to live for these two days, when I can do the good stuff? That is Ted and Terri TGIF-erson.
The fourth paradigm is, work is strategic. Work is strategic. And so, you exploit it. This is Evan and Elsie Evangelizer. And this is interesting – and please don’t think too badly of them. Evan and Elsie – for them, work is a platform for evangelism and ministry. They don’t really like their work very well, but they will themselves, and simply choose to do a great job, so they can have a good testimony.
So, they turn things in on time. They’re bored. They’re dissatisfied in their work. But they are good workers, and good employees. They do it for the sake of Christ. But after that, they are very careful to give tracts to people at work. They keep their Bible on their desk. Because they don’t like their work, they rarely pursue career advancement. They let people know that they use their vacation time to go on short-term mission trips. And they stay in unfulfilling jobs because, often, they’re very financially lucrative, and it allows them to give more money to the Church, and the ministries they care about.
And there are a lot of people that that’s their life. They don’t like their job. But it’s strategic. It’s strategic. I make good money. I’m sharing my faith. And so, I’m just going to exploit it.
It’s a kind of martyr complex. It’s: God has called me to go to this boring job that I don’t like, and I’m not good at, and Jesus had to suffer, and He had a cross to bear, and this is mine. But I’m using it for the Lord.
And by the way, that one’s probably a lot better than a lot of the others. I’d much rather have – if I’m the boss, I want this person, instead of Freddy or Francis Freeloader.
The number five paradigm is, work is a calling, and so you steward it. Work is a calling, and so you steward the work that God’s given you. And this is Kent and/or Carrie Calling. I couldn’t come up with anything any better.
For them, work is their primary ministry. They love what they do. They can’t believe they get paid to do what they do. They share their faith, first and foremost, by the quality of the work that they do, and their zeal for the actual work itself – the way it benefits people, the values of the company, and the great relationships that they have.
They take opportunities to build in-depth, deep relationships with fellow employees, not simply for evangelism, but they just like them. When they undergo difficult times, they’re the ones that take initiative to get employees together, and get food to people, love people, and have even opened up a low-key Bible study, that whoever would want to explore what it means to be a Christian might check it out. They share Christ out of relationship. They’ve been voted “best employee” multiple times over the last twenty years, and the board and the CEO wish they could have a hundred of them in the company.
Those are at least five, I think, general paradigms that we all tend, in some way or another, to fit into.
Notice some of the research. Eighty-three percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their job. I quoted, earlier, seventy-five percent are in a wrong job fit. Eighty-three percent are dissatisfied. Hal Stewins wrote, “Your work should be a challenge, not a chore, a blessing, and not a bore.”
Patrick Morley writes, “Ninety-five percent of us will never be in occupational ministry, but that does not mean we are not ministers.” And then, Larry Burkett wrote, “For Christians who view their work as a chore, they don’t have much of a witness on or off the job.” That’s pretty good. And then, finally, Dennis Bakke wrote, “Worship can be something we do every minute of every workday, as we acknowledge God’s guidance and purpose in our lives.”
The question I want to raise, and hope to ask and begin to answer, is, how do you do that? How can work be a moment of worship, every minute of every day? How can it really happen, and I would suggest, especially in kind of a dead-end job? We’re talking in a little bit idealistic terms.
There are some people sitting here, and probably more than some, who will maybe hear this and they’ll say, “I can’t change jobs. I’m locked in. I’m in a situation” – for whatever reason – “it would take maybe years, or – I can’t get out of what I’m doing,” for maybe some reasons we wouldn’t understand.
In fact, the passage we’re going to look at is given to a group of people that didn’t have the option to say, “You know, I don’t think this is according to my gifting and calling. I don’t think this is exactly what God would choose for me to do.” They were slaves. There were sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire. And, like wildfire, they were coming to Christ.
And the apostle Paul is going to write to people who have terrible jobs, who their masters can kill them when they want to. Now, because they were valuable, that rarely happened, so they just were beaten on a regular basis, and mistreated on a regular basis. And so, what I want you to get is sort of the a priori logic, if you will, is if God is going to provide a way for a slave, who has no options, about how to work for God wherever He’s working, 24/7, I wonder what that opportunity is for us. Do you get the idea?
And so, what I want to look at with you is how you can work for God, wherever you work, and I want to give you four principles, from Ephesians 6, verses 5 through 9.
Principle number one: Christians are to obey and honor their supervisors, as an act of worship to Christ. Can you imagine reading this for the first time, as a word from God? I mean, being a slave, getting beaten up, no rights – you’re just a piece of property. And someone says, “We’ve got one of those letters! God’s speaking!” And someone pulls out a scroll. And people are huddled together.
And it says, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.” “What? Read that again.” “Okay.” “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Is he saying being a slave, and doing it right, is the will of God, from the heart?
“With good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.” Is he actually saying that how I respond to my master, my boss that I can’t get out of – this is God’s will, and I’m supposed to treat this boss like Christ was my boss? “…knowing that whatever good anyone does” – verse 8 – “he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And, by the way, masters, do the same thing to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” Christians are to obey, and honor, their supervisors, as an act of worship to Christ.
We have, over here, a little box, if you will, first century, addressed to slaves. The topic is “work.” Okay? We’re going to have specific admonitions to them. Over here, we come, about twenty-one centuries later, and we have a little box, and we have “work,” and we’re not slaves. But what ties them together is an overarching principle about: how do you respond to those in the workplace that have authority over you?
And so, I think the timeless principle is we obey and honor our supervisors. And then, you say, “Well, how?” Notice the three phrases.
First is “with fear and trembling.” Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the break room, or near the water cooler, or out to lunch with some fellow employees, all who have a very, very bad boss, a very, very bad supervisor, or a very dysfunctional company. Have you ever been there? What’s the dialogue go like? Right?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in enough Starbucks, where you’re over here, and these three people are over here, and they’re on a lunch break, and it’s like, “Can you believe him? Ethel, I just don’t believe – I just can’t believe what they’re doing! What they do, they are just…this is the most ridiculous thing. That is so unfair.”
And they just go on and on. I wonder, all over the world, how many people in break rooms, and at lunches, and at supper tables, after they go home from work, do nothing but rip their bosses and their supervisors for what they don’t do, and what they’re not, and how unfair they are, and…
And the apostle Paul says to a group of people who – I mean, I don’t know how bad your boss has been, and I don’t know how dysfunctional your company is, but I’ve just not been to a lot of places where, “Okay, 10:30 break – everybody out here! Let’s get in the main forum. Okay, Judy, you’ve been a little late, lately. Can you give me that whip?” Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! “Okay, Bobby, I think you were late on that report. Come on in here.” Bang! Bang! You know? I’ve never seen anybody get beaten, have you? I haven’t.
And the apostle Paul is saying to those people, who are beaten, “With fear and trembling.” The idea is, with a sense of respect, with a sense of treating them with a sense of reverential awe for, not how they treat you, or the kind of person they are, but the role they’re sovereignly given. Sixty million slaves deciding to treat their masters in a way that they don’t deserve.
And then, not only just – You can do that, right? You could do that, externally. “Sure, boss, whatever you say. I’ll go do that.” But notice, it says “with sincerity, with singleness of heart.” He’s not saying just your external behavior honors your boss, or your supervisor. He’s saying your external behavior, along with your internal attitude, is going to be treating a person, especially who doesn’t deserve to be treated, with respect and honor. You do it that way.
And then, he gives you the why: “As done for Christ.” You might jot in your notes – we looked at it earlier, but you might not immediately apply it here – Colossians 3:23: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do it heartily, as unto the Lord.” Whatever you do. So, even in a difficult job situation, let alone a good job situation, do it as unto the Lord, with all your heart.
This actually landed me a job once. Remember I told you about the bricklayer? And by the way, you learn more, not from what people say. It’s how they act. I mean, here I am, and I can still, in my mind, see those work boots, kicking down two days of work, and me whining, going, “Are you nuts?” But the indelible example of modeling is that excellence. I’m going to do this well, and I’m going to do this for the right reason. I work as an act of worship.
It’s worshipping God, by trembling, respect, sincerity, and doing your work as though Jesus were your boss.