NASHVILLE (BP) — Dread gripped my soul when the alarm went off each morning for another day of teaching high school speech and journalism.
My first year of teaching went pretty well; the second year inexplicably was a near-disaster.
Since then, the jobs I’ve been privileged to hold have been challenging yet fulfilling, starting at the 8,000-circulation Review Times in Fostoria, Ohio, about 40 miles south of Toledo in the mid-1970s. Its slogan sticks with me to this day: “Big enough to serve, small enough to care.”
On this Labor Day weekend, perhaps your place of work is dreadful or perhaps delightful.
Whatever may be the case, Scripture conveys counsel to lift your work situation from the pits or infuse it with new possibilities.
Probably you’ve heard the apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:22-23, one of the most frequently quoted Bible passages when the topic of work is discussed among Christians: “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ” (HCSB).
Here, though, are some additional passages that can enhance your witness to your co-workers:
— Galatians 5:22-23, a winsome list of day-to-day personal qualities each of us should reflect as followers of Christ: “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”
— Colossians 3:12-14, a passage setting forth the wholesome relationships Christians can nurture with each other at work and in all of life: “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity.”
— James 3:17, perhaps the Bible’s most succinct checklist for pondering God’s wisdom in any situation: “… the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.”
— Philippians 2:14-15, a marvelous exhortation for our attitudes: “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”
— Mark 9:35, a poignant statement by Jesus about humility: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
— 2 Corinthians 1:10-11, the apostle Paul’s request for others to pray for him amid hardship and crisis: “We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.”
— 1 Peter 3:15, an important call for readiness to help co-workers as well as loved ones and friends learn about your faith: “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
There is one key, though, for these passages to be effective: new birth in Christ, when we individually ask God to forgive our sinful ways and surrender our lives to Him, opening our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s cleansing and transformation.
This Labor Day weekend is a fine time to turn to Christ. He will lift your soul to a better place, whether at work, in your home, among your loved ones and friends — and, especially, in your relationship to God.