Rightful Working and the Sluggard

One of my first jobs was working in the kitchen at a Christian summer camp. On my first day I was exemplary in my energy and enthusiasm, motivated to work hard for my employer. But I was not expecting the number of challenges I would face: Early mornings, heavy lifting, and a list of seemingly insurmountable tasks.

With each day, I found my motivation waning. The job demanded physical stamina and long days. And although I knew better, I secretly compared my job to slavery. My poor attitude was poisonous, seeping into each task. And the worst part? I harboured guilt for my lack of ambition. I kept thinking, “What’s my problem? I should be grateful for this opportunity!”

My internal discord became a pattern in subsequent jobs. A few years later I had a conversation with my uncle about my then-current job. I described my lack of motivation and dissatisfaction with the work. His answer was my turning point. He said firmly, “But you do know, when you work, you’re really working for the Lord?”

He prompted me to consider what Scripture says about work and our attitudes. Sensing a lesson, I scoured the Bible for answers. It was the first time I had considered the importance as a Christian of having a mindset worthy of my calling. I was shocked at how many passages discuss work ethic and God’s view of our conduct. Then I thought about the Cross and what had been done for me. My actions needed to reflect my grateful heart.

One of the verses I’ve held onto since then is Proverbs 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat” (NASB).

Sluggard. This harsh word described my work ethic for years: lazy, disinterested, and unmotivated. And I’m not alone. In Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Chuck Swindoll writes,

Few indeed are the people who finish what they start—and do a complete job of it…I’m talking about the rare but beautiful experience of carrying out a responsibility to its completion.1

God extraordinarily blesses us with the opportunity to earn money, provide for ourselves, and honour Him by working hard. We are called to work thoroughly and carefully with the attitude Jesus displayed so we might glorify God in all we do. Acts 20:35 reads, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

You may be struggling to see the bigger picture of God’s plan from where you are. But through this experience, I’m convinced if we settle for  the sluggard’s life, we will miss endless opportunities to be used for God’s richest purposes.  

1.Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007 (59).