According to a 2007 study, the average person spends a third of their life at work. And when you factor in other types of work – cleaning the house, taking care of children, or working on a passion project – well, the large majority of our lives are spent working!
So what does the Bible have to say about work?
The Bible mentions work frequently, and there are a few general themes.
First, humans are designed by God to work! It’s part of our DNA. When we do what we’re made to do, we glorify God.
Second, we are called to do our work with excellence and diligence – even if we don’t like the job or our boss!
And finally, we are called to keep our focus on God while we work. It can be easy to lose perspective on what’s important in the race for achievement, financial gain, status, or other career goals. However, as Christians, our first priority is always to love God and love other people!
What career am I called to?
The Bible actually doesn’t instruct us on what specific career we’re called to. Nor does it provide a clear road map on how to figure it out. This is something that each person needs to discern with God’s help.
It may come as a shocker, but some of us might not even be called to any specific career! Rather, we are called to glorify God in our work whatever and wherever that may be.
Although the Bible doesn’t tell us what work to do, it does provide guidelines for how to think about and go about our work.
Check out these 10 Bible verses on work…
10 Bible verses about work
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Right from the beginning, God had Adam and Eve working in the Garden of Eden. Some of us imagine there will be no work in heaven, and admittedly work can be very unpleasant at times! But Genesis tells us that God assigned work to humans from the very beginning. Work is good, and it’s part of what we’re made to do!
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.
Ultimately, God is the one who brings success to our endeavors. He enables us to work, and He works all things for our good! The belief that we have to do it all on our own always leads to frustration and burn out.
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
The Bible encourages us to be smart and practical about how we work. We should avoid get-rich-quick schemes or fantasies about fame, power, and wealth. If we spend too much time dreaming, we will never get down to the business of actually working!
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
As Christians, we are called to do our work with focus, excellence, and attention to detail. We should be trustworthy and responsible. Proverbs says that being lazy in your work is similar to intentionally destroying things!
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
In this famous gospel story, Jesus warns against making an idol of work. Anything that becomes more important than God is an idol. Martha was in the room with Jesus, but all she could think about was what needed to be done. As followers of Jesus, our attention should always be on Him. As we spend more time with Him, we will begin to recognize what He’s asking us to do in each moment.
In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Jesus said that the Father always works, which tells us that work is important to God! In Genesis 1 we see that God worked to create the heavens and the earth. Since we are made in God’s image, work is integral to our purpose!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…
Paul tells us that regardless of who is boss over us, we are ultimately working for God. We should strive to honor God with the heart-attitude that we approach work with. Of course, this can be difficult if you have a bad boss! Nonetheless, God asks us to serve with love and grace. We get to shift the atmosphere at our workplaces by acting like Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and 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.
In our work, we are called to be humble and not flashy. As much as possible, we should work to take care of ourselves so that we can serve and give to others rather than depend on others.
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.
Again, Jesus warns against wrong priorities here. It is so easy to focus on physical needs and money, but these things should never distract us from the work of loving God and loving the people around us. When we focus too much on physical needs, it’s often because we are afraid of not having enough. Jesus tells us elsewhere (Matthew 6:25-34) that God will provide for all of our needs. When we trust God on this, we are free to do the work of the kingdom – to spread the good news of God’s love to others around us.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
Finally, the Bible tells us that humans aren’t made to work 24/7. We are also created for rest. It’s often in rest that we connect with God and get recharged to go out and work again. Periods of rest allow us to return to work with love rather than frustration and complaining.
How do you approach work?
Since work is such a big part of our lives, it makes sense to pay attention to how we approach it. How do you approach your work?
As followers of Jesus, we are called to glorify God with our work and to do it with excellence. We are also called to rest regularly and to prioritize our relationship with God over work.
Did any of the above verses stand out to you? Try memorizing one as a reminder for the next time you’re tempted to work in a way that doesn’t glorify God! If you’re like most of us, it won’t be long before you need it…