A Man's Guide to Work: 12 Ways to Honor God on the Job

A Man's Guide to Work: 12 Ways to Honor God on the Job

by Patrick Morley

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ISBN-13: 9780802475541
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Pages: 167
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

PATRICK MORLEY founded Man in the Mirror in 1991, a ministry that has helped 35,000 churches impact the lives of twelve million men worldwide. Their vision is "for every church to disciple every man". He is the author of Man in the Mirror which was selected as one of the hundred most influential Christian books of the twentieth century. Patrick has written twenty books, 750 articles, has appeared on several hundred radio and television programs, and has a daily one minute radio program on 700 stations. He graduated from the University of Central Florida as well as Reformed Theological Seminary. He has earned a Ph.D. in management, completed through postgraduate studies at the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. He lives in Winter Park, Florida, with his wife, Patsy. His ministry websites are www.maninthemirror.org and www.PatrickMorley.com.

Read an Excerpt

A Man's Guide to Work

12 Ways to Honor God on the Job


By Patrick Morley, Jim Vincent

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2010 Patrick Morley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-872-6



CHAPTER 1

CALLING: BUSINESS, Plumber, or Minister—SAME THING


MEN WHO FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST are an occupation force "ordained" to serve in the markets of men. We should regard work not just as a platform for ministry—work is ministry, and we are stewards put in charge until Jesus comes back, a fifth column who infiltrate a world stained by sin, acting as salt that preserves the way of Christ and light that leads broken people out of darkness. We are liberators sent to free a world that labors under the groan of sin, ambassadors sent "into" the world (which at the same time we are not part "of), taking risks to build Christ's kingdom while not neglecting to tend earth's culture. We are workers doing our part as God sovereignly orchestrates "the main thing"—to bring people into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other.


Same Work, Two Results

Picture two airline ticket agents. They do exactly the same job, but one views his work as something he does to earn money, so when he finishes his shift, he can do what he really wants to do. He is easily irritated by customers complaining when their travel plans go awry.

The second agent views his work as a calling. Every time someone comes to him with a problem, he sees it as an opportunity to serve the customer and represent his great God. The agent does what he was called to do to the glory of God, even when facing resistance from a particular customer.

That second ticket agent understands the big idea that undergirds this chapter: Whether you're a businessman or a minister, your work is a calling. It has intrinsic value, and it has potential to bear eternal fruit that honors God.


To Work Is Part of God's Nature—and Ours

Work is part of God's nature and character. John 5:17 portrays both the Father and Jesus as workers. Jesus said, "My father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

Psalm 8 offers a glimpse into how God incorporated work into our nature too. The psalmist writes, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (vv. 3–4).

The question gets answered two ways. First, he describes our identitywho God created us to be: "You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor" (v. 5).

And then he describes our purpose—what God created us to do: "You made [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet" (v. 6).

God has dominion over the whole earth and all of creation—a dominion that He has delegated to us.

Work, it turns out, is part of our nature and character too. We have been created to work, and you will never find complete peace on earth until you discover what God has called you to do. Sadly, many workers have not—some surveys have shown that up to 80 percent of people are not in jobs best suited for them.


Is Work a Blessing or a Curse?

It's comforting to know we were created to work, but is work a blessing or a curse? Many assume that work is part of the curse that resulted from Adam and Eve's sin—what we commonly call "the fall." As a result of that sin, God told Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground" (Genesis 3:17–19).

Ouch! But work itself was created prior to the fall in Genesis 2 as a blessing from God, not in Genesis 3 where, because of the fall, work was made difficult.

From day one, man was commissioned to work. After creating the world, the earth became lush with vegetation—and there was a garden. When God created Adam, He gave him a task: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15). And that was before the fall, so work has both a blessing and a curse.

Work has a blessing because we are created in such a way that a man will feel most alive, most useful, and most happy when he is doing what he was created to do.

A man who is happy in his work is happy indeed. But a man who is unhappy in his work will be unhappy everywhere. In fact, most men can be unhappy at home and still find happiness if their work is satisfying. That's not so surprising given that almost half your time—and most of your intellectual energy—is devoted to work.

Work also has a curse on it because of the fall. In business, if you pick the wrong strategy, your effort is going to be ... what? A lot of hard work. But if you pick the right strategy, your effort is going to be ... what? A lot of hard work. Whether you pick the right or the wrong strategy, because of the fall your efforts are going to be a lot of hard work. Because of the fall, we must do our work while feeling the prick of thorns.


Is a Career in Ministry More Spiritual than a Career in Business?

Once I visited a church in my hometown. For about forty minutes, the guest preacher said, in essence, that if you really love Jesus, you will go to the mission field. When the service was over, I slinked out of the sanctuary. I felt that if I didn't become a full-time career missionary, I always would be a second-class citizen in God's kingdom.

That distorted view, severing our work life from our spiritual life, is biblically inaccurate. It's not at all in alignment with God's intention related to our work. From a scriptural viewpoint, it's utter fiction.

For those who live under this distortion, secular jobs have eternal value only when we use them as a "platform for ministry." These people go through the day counting the minutes till the next coffee break, so they can ask their coworkers about their spiritual lives. They can't wait for the workday to be over. They can't see that the work itself has inherent spiritual value.

Of course, God's kingdom does have a global mandate—a command to Jesus' followers to take the gospel throughout the world, and to grow His kingdom in every culture on earth. But that's hardly the only thing we are commanded to do.

God calls us to "build the kingdom" and "tend the culture." That's the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. Building the kingdom is the Great Commission: "Go and make disciples ..." (see Matthew 28:19–20). Tending the culture—which occupies the vast majority of our time—is the Cultural Mandate: God created mankind in His own image, blessed them, and sent them to fill and subdue the earth, and rule over the fish, the birds, and every living thing (Genesis 1:27–28).

The Cultural Mandate includes our roles in families, communities, government, education, health care, the arts, law, science, the trades, and commerce. Work is part of the Cultural Mandate.

Both the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate are high and holy callings.

Work, it turns out, can be a calling just like going into the ministry. Every vocation is holy to the Lord. God makes no distinction between sacred and secular. If you look up the word secular in your Bible concordance, what will you find? Nothing, because the word secular is not in the Bible. Twentieth-century evangelical theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, in answering practical questions written to him by everyday people, noted, "One thing you should very definitely have in mind—that is that a ministry such as teaching the Bible in acollege is no higher calling intrinsically than being a businessman or doing something else."

God calls some people to be pastors or teachers or evangelists. And He calls some to work in businesses, hospitals, fire departments, or construction.


You Are an "Ordained" Worker

I remember a man who once visited the Friday morning Man in the Mirror Bible study I lead, who told me, "All my life I wanted to be a high school math teacher. Finally, my dream came true. But I soon saw two problems. First, my students were coming to class with problems math can't solve. Second, the Christian teachers in my school don't know each other. God has put a vision in my mind about how to address those two issues. I am an ordained math teacher."

He sure got that right. If you are a Christian in the marketplace—whether driving the truck, fixing the computers, or running the company—you are "ordained" to that position.

In his book The Call, Christian thinker Os Guinness quotes some poignant thoughts from great thinkers and saints about the holiness of all vocations. Here are some of them:

• Martin Luther, a German theologian credited with initiating the Protestant Reformation, wrote this: "The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous [they] may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks."

• William Tyndale, a Protestant reformer and scholar of the sixteenth century who translated the Bible into the early modern English of his day, wrote, "If our desire is to please God, pouring water, washing dishes, cobbling shoes, and preaching the Word is all one."

• Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian, journalist, statesman, and politician who served as prime minister of the Netherlands (1901–1905), said, "There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ would not cry out 'This is mine, this belongs to me.'"

• William Perkins, a clergyman and Cambridge theologian who also was one of the foremost leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England, claimed, "Polishing shoes is a sanctified and holy act." He added, "The action of a shepherd in keeping sheep performed as I have said it, is as good a work before God as is the action of a judge giving sentence. Or of a magistrate in ruling. Or a minister in preaching."

• Bishop Thomas Beacon wrote, "Our Savior Christ was a carpenter, his apostles were fishermen. St. Paul was a tent maker."


These statements support our "big idea" for this chapter: Regardless of whether you're a businessman or a minister, your work is a calling—a task given by God. When we see our daily work in that light, we understand that God assigns meaning and dignity to what we do at work.


Work Is Ministry

As we noted in the first paragraph, work is not just a platform to do ministry-it is ministry. If you are a waiter, every couple sitting at your station is a divine appointment. They provide an opportunity for you to serve them in the name of Jesus Christ. "How may I help you?" "May I take your order?"

If you are a salesman, every appointment is holy, and every closing is sacred.

If you are a manager, every time you intervene between two employees who cannot see eye-to-eye, you have an opportunity to demonstrate the reconciling power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Obviously, some things are sinful. As Christians, we do not have freedom to participate in careers or jobs that require those activities. But everything else is spiritual. Schaeffer put it this way:

There are certain things which are given as absolutely sinful in the Scripture, and these things we as Christians should not do.... But then everything else is spiritual. The painting of a picture, the work of a good shoemaker, the doctor, the lawyer—all these things are spiritual if they are done within the circle of what is taught in Scripture, looking to the Lord day by day for His help.


The landscape designer, the building contractor, the UPS deliveryman, the chief executive officer—all of these people have chosen employment that can be spiritual when accomplished within the circle drawn by Scripture. Every vocation can be holy to the Lord, if we look to Him day by day for His help. For the Christian, all of life is "spiritual."


Work Should Bring Glory to God

Your occupation is part of your call to service. Faith is not a private thing to be kept in a compartment. Instead, on the job your faith should season every action and word so that God will receive praise, glory, and honor. What does that look like in action? The apostle Paul gives us some key clues in 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12, writing, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Not everything you do has to result in someone's immediate salvation. Just working in a way that wins the respect of other people is valuable to God's kingdom. And furthermore, it is valuable to work in such a way that you limit your dependence on other people (e.g., not going into debt). Those simple aspects of living out your calling will enhance God's reputation in our culture.

The New Testament has a lot to say about the nature and value of work. Paul wrote, "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat'" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). That's easy to understand. Some people resist working—it can be uncomfortable and tiring and demanding, especially now that we feel the prick of the thorns described in Genesis 3:18. But Paul said if a capable person doesn't work, then you shouldn't give him anything to eat. Work is a scriptural mandate—a commandment.

The Scripture tells us, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Most of us can accept that work is a command. But this verse implies that, no matter what your job is, you can do it for God's glory.

Simply put, your work is a summons to follow Jesus. Your work enables you to go where Jesus would go, to be what Jesus would be, and to do what Jesus would do. That is a calling. We will experience resistance—that's part of the curse. But when we see work as a calling, we know we can do it for God's glory.

Work is a noble and holy vocation. That's the "big idea" for this chapter: Regardless of whether you're a businessman or a minister, your work is a calling. It has intrinsic value, and it has potential to bear eternal fruit.


Staying Where You Are

Many men who sense the desire to serve God welling up within them assume they must now do something else. This is rarely the case. Instead, God wants them to use their talents where they are, reaching others with the gospel and influencing the culture in the process. That's what Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, did.

Norm Miller went to work at Interstate Batteries more than four decades ago, at the age of twenty-four. Eight years later Norm received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Norm prayed, "God, I will do anything You want me to do." But he didn't sense a calling to leave his job. He said, "I didn't know anything but batteries, so I just decided to stay in batteries."

He began rising in that growing company and eventually became the CEO. In 1976, for the first time in its history, Interstate Batteries sold one million batteries in a single year. Today, his company now sells fourteen million batteries per year. Would that have happened if Norm had left? Maybe, but we know for sure it did happen, at least partly, because he was willing to stay right where God had called him. And because he stayed, he has had tremendous opportunity to use the platform God gave him to influence our culture. He's made a profound difference, because he answered God's call and understood his purpose in business.

You might think that going from a million batteries to fourteen million batteries is some kind of overnight, superstar performance. But I ran the math, and what it comes down to is an annualized growth rate of 8.5 percent. That requires the perseverance of steady plodding over the long haul.

For most of us, our calling probably is to stay right where we are, but to change the way we see our jobs. The apostle Paul said, "Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him." And a few verses later he reiterated, "Each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to" (1 Corinthians 7:17, 24). Many of us will find we can increase our impact simply by staying where we are with a new perspective that our vocation is holy to the Lord.


Going Into Ministry Is No Panacea

When I stepped away from day-to-day business to devote myself "full time" to the ministry of helping men think more deeply about their lives, I thought I would wake up the next day feeling more spiritual—somehow "holier." It never happened.

Then I supposed that when I looked into the mirror, I would see the faint outline of a halo. Oh, I didn't think anyone else would ever see it, but I thought for sure that I would. It never happened.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Man's Guide to Work by Patrick Morley, Jim Vincent. Copyright © 2010 Patrick Morley. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

1 Calling: Businessman, Plumber, or Minister-Same Thing 13

2 Purpose: Why Do We Work? 29

3 Integrity: The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule 41

4 Performance: What Is Our Duty on the Job? 57

5 People: Neighbor-Love at Work 67

6 Witnessing: Authentic Ways to Share Your Faith 79

7 Money: Promises, Pleasures, and Perils 91

8 Priorities: Temporal Work as a Kingdom Priority 103

9 Prayer: Is It Okay to Pray for Success? 115

10 Planning: If God Is Sovereign, Why Plan? 127

11 Leadership: The Crafting of a Leader 139

12 Failures: How to Handle Failure 153

Afterword 163

Notes 165

Acknowledgments 169

Additional Resources on the Internet 171

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