“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.”
– Proverbs 22:29
King Solomon penned most of the proverbs in Scripture, and he knew this one from first-hand experience.
The key accomplishment of his 40-year term was building the Temple of the Lord (1 Kings 6-7), a massive seven-year project. Every detail mattered; this would be the epicenter of worship to the One True God. Only the best craftsman could be trusted to work on the furnishings that would facilitate that worship.
So Solomon chose Huram of Tyre, who “was highly skilled and experienced” (1 Kings 7:14). Huram “did all the work assigned to him,” the Temple was dedicated, filled with God’s presence and well on its way to being a “house of prayer for all nations.”
That story matters for our work today. It gives us a new perspective for how God uses good work and gives us motivation to work with excellence in our everyday work.
Here is what we can take from Solomon and Huram:
- Excellence in our work is worship. Like Huram, the first purpose of excellence in our work is to bring worship to God. And that extends to anything we “construct,” whether it’s a proposal, a piece of analysis or new process design. When we bring skill, we are saying “this matters because God matters and I’m doing it for Him.” That’s worship.
- Excellence in our work serves others. Huram brought great skill to his work and everyone benefited: their experience and ability to worship was enhanced through his work. That’s true for us, too. Our work is always connected to someone else. Our output is always someone else’s input, so when we work with excellence, others will benefit.
- Excellence in our work brings worship to God. The Temple was constructed to facilitate relationship with and worship to God, first to the Jews and ultimately to all nations. Huram’s assignment was a vital part of that bigger picture. We don’t always have the luxury of seeing the direct connection between our specific assignment of the day and God’s bigger picture, but if we trust God’s plan then we can trust that doing our work with excellence is part of it. Excellence leads to credibility and influence, which can and will bring worship to God.
The application today is pretty simple: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Just this simple shift in perspective can have a monumental impact in the quality of your work and the quality of your work experience.
You are always standing before the King in your work, and that should be enough motivation to work with excellence. As you do, you will often find yourself in a position to have great influence and credibility for Him before the “kings” of the marketplace. And you can hit the pillow at night knowing that your hard work had purpose today.
A version of this blog originally ran in May, 2017.