Shining Your Light at Work: Reflections on Matthew 5:16

by | Nov 2, 2023

“Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16, The Message

Behind the Book: Matthew is the most Jewish-centric of the four gospels. The apostle regularly invoked the writings of the Old Testament prophets to illustrate Jesus’s identity as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. He included more than fifty direct citations from the Old Testament and even more indirect allusions. In chapter 5, Matthew recounts Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. In this chapter, He declared that the law of Moses was fulfilled and taught the righteous way of life that leads to becoming perfect like Heavenly Father.

Faith and Work Application: Our instruction in Matthew 5:16 is explicit, “let your light shine before others,” but we’re not lamps or lighthouses, so what does it look like to shine our light at work? To illuminate practical ways to let our lights shine at work, we utilized four types of lighting: 

Ambient Lighting. Ambient lighting is bright, powerful illumination that lights up a room. Its purpose is to provide uniform illumination levels over the entire space, creating a solid ambient illumination through “bounce” and reflections off the walls.

Adding ambient lighting to a room means making sure you’re maintaining a positive energy and attitude while in meetings and around coworkers. Share a smile with someone in the hallway and extend a simple “good morning” when you arrive. The scripture says to let our light shine “before others,” and as the lighting description adds, ambient lighting is most purposeful because of how it reflects off others and bounces to influence the attitudes of others.

Accent Lighting. Accent lighting can play an integral part in adding light to a room. In general, accent lighting shines three times as much light on the focal point as ambient lighting provides to emphasize it.

Accent lighting highlights a particular space, piece of furniture, or an architectural aspect of a room – but what if we used it to highlight a specific person or successful project? How are you currently recognizing the great work of a co-worker or your entire team? Accent lighting can be more focused, like a personal email or note, or broader, like verbal recognition for hitting quarterly or monthly goals in a team meeting. Don’t discount the power of “I’m proud of you.”

Task Lighting. Few things can serve as a more worthy addition than adequate task lighting tailored explicitly for the task you are about to complete.

Task lighting is crucial for both inward and outward purposes. We need proper task lighting for ourselves to ensure we stay focused on the projects on our to-do list, but as leaders in our workplaces, we can offer task lighting for others as well. This might look like scheduling daily or weekly check-ins to add accountability for team members or other departments to ensure priorities are aligned and deadlines are being met.

Decorative Lighting.  When it comes to decorative lighting, just like its name implies, it is all about making a statement. Decorative lighting is often used to add warmth and color to a room.

Decorative lighting at work includes everything you do to build team morale. Think of the relational moments spent in the break room or your office, sharing our vulnerable stories, discussing your weekend with co-workers, and celebrating birthdays. All those moments spent getting to know the hearts and stories of your team and sharing yours with them, that’s decorative lighting at work. Recall the last line in the verse, “By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”


  • What types of lighting do I personally need right now? What about my team/department?
  • Who can I provide accent lighting to this week?
  • How can you add decorative lighting to your culture?

Focused Prayer: Lord, please help me find the courage to let my light shine before others. Make it clear who in my circle needs light amidst darkness today. Fill me with the fruits of the Holy Spirit; I pray my actions exude love, joy, and peace and light up my workplace. May those around me see you through this light and feel encouraged to let their light shine the same way. As I lean on your strength to open up to others, I pray they open up with You in return. Amen.

Photo of Jessica Simms

Jessica Simms

Jessica joined the Workmatters team in July of 2021. She was born and raised in New Jersey and lived in Louisiana and Texas before finding her home in Arkansas in 2019. Jessica is an avid Razorback fan and has twin daughters, Austin and Kendall. She is also a member of Cross Church-Fayetteville and is a WMI-Arkansas alumna.