Consider your ideal job — what are you doing? What is your mindset? Regardless of the specific role or industry, when people imagine their ideal job, they think about the activities they would be doing that best use their gifts. We think in terms of growth, possibility, opportunity, and mission — creatively using our gifts to add value to our organization and community.
A growth mindset is essential for our work and for our lives. We set and attempt to accomplish goals in many parts of our lives— work, fitness, relationships, etc. However, when it comes to our faith we often find ourselves trying not to mess up — playing defense — instead of living the full life of purpose God calls us to.
This should not be so. Jesus came to earth to make a way for us and to demonstrate how to live abundantly — full of purpose in every part of our lives, especially in our life’s work. Jesus, the originator of the growth mindset, offers us an ideal job. Here is the best part, most of us don’t have to change our day jobs to start living out the role of purpose God gives us for work.
Jesus, the exact representation of the nature of God (Hebrews 1:3) came to earth as the fullness of God to reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1:19-20).
Jesus — fully God and fully human — changed the world forever, and He changes the lives of all who respond to His call — forgiving us of every sin, making right every wrong, redeeming our lives with new and incredible purpose, and giving us hope for the perfect life to come.
Let’s make no mistake about it, He has done the work; it is finished (John 19:30 and Revelation 21:6). Jesus has accomplished everything we need by His life, death, and resurrection.
So, if it is all done, what do we do? If the major purposes of God have been accomplished, why does the way we live matter? How does Jesus coming to earth impact our work — our everyday lives?
Our Purpose For Work Is Clear
The birth and life of Jesus on earth perfectly informs how we live everyday, and we know this because He constantly renewed people's lives and gave them purpose for two major reasons.
First, He never left anyone the same after forgiving their sins. He always gave them a new life with a new purpose. There are millions and millions of examples of this over the last 2 thousand years, but to start just consider these examples recorded in the Bible: the woman at the well (John 4), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), and Paul (Acts 9).
Second, His chosen method for continuing the work — renewing and reconciling all things to Himself — is putting His followers to work. Jesus calls and equips us to do the very same things he did (Luke 10:37). This involves forgiving and healing others, making disciples and teaching others (Mathew 28:18-19), and doing greater works than we can dream or imagine (John 14:12) — all while He is still with us (Matthew 28:20).
Our Model Is Perfect
Jesus made every follower of His a redemptive agent — a world changer. And, we have endless opportunities every day in our life and work to change the lives of others, to join Him in Him making all things new (Revelation 12:5).
As leaders, we need to remember that He is still with us now (Colossians 3:17) and has shown us how to follow Him in order to lead others. From what has sometimes been called Paul’s “Christ Hymn” we see seven ways to do the work we are called to do.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:5-11
- Relationship — Our work is primarily about relationships, not tasks. We become so goal and task focused that we forget our work is about the people we work with — the souls that last. Jesus desires to be one with all those He has called (John 17:11), our work is about people — not means. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:5
- Service, Not Personal Advantage — Our work is not for us to gain advantage of other people. Our work is to serve the needs of others. We are children of God (Matthew 5:9) and we have been given what we need; we lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). People can tell if we are working for ourselves or working with God for the sake of others. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” – Philippians 2:6-7
- Fully Human — We go wrong when we try to be like God at work. We try to be all powerful — controlling every minor detail of a project. We try to be all knowing — defending our ideas at the expense of others. Instead, we should bring our full humanity to work. This means pointing out our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9) and using our humanity to love others. Jesus redeems our emotions, thoughts, and actions to share His love with our coworkers (Romans 12:2). “Being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man.” – Philippians 2:7-8
- Humility — Knowing all we have been given, we can put our gifts to work for the service of others and not need to be the center of attention. In the words of Andrew Murray, “Humility is the root of all character and virtue.” “He humbled himself.” – Philippians 2:8
- Obedience — We live by God’s word and commands at work, which define success (Joshua 1:8) and are useful for every situation (2 Timothy 3:16). And, when we don’t know what to do, we know all of God’s commands are summarized as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 “Even becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:8
- Sacrifice — It will cost us something, and that is a beautiful opportunity. Denying ourselves is seeking the best for those we work with and for. When an opportunity comes up, we use what we are given to help others — even when it costs us. “Even becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:8
- Glory — We work with our eye on the prize. Death is gain, living is Christ. (Philippians 1:21). Doing everything in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17), which just means as He would do it (see prior 6 points) because we know victory is assured. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11
This is The Way to work! Let’s follow Jesus and lead others to Him this way — no matter the cost.