I remember walking into work for the first time with the desire to work hard, learn much, and grow deeply. I think we can all relate to the feeling of wanting to do extremely well when we are first starting out in our career or a new role. But it wasn’t too long before I found myself setting unrealistic expectations for what I needed to accomplish. Each time I met one of these goals, I experienced a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that almost felt like a rush, but it ended up being so temporary, and had me chasing the next accomplishment or source of approval. When I failed at something — especially something I worked hard for — I was drained and beat myself up. When I shared these ups and downs with a close friend, she asked me, “Who are you really working for?”
As Christians, we think our reply would be, “God, of course,” but does our work ethic and drive for excellence truly reflect that? You may say it’s a grey area, but I think the answer is simple — you’re either working for God or you’re not.
For me, the biggest struggle was defining attainable excellence and practicing balance in my life when wanting to achieve the unattainable. Was it great to accomplish some of those projects? Yes! But I look back now and see a vital part was missing — the leadership and guidance of my true boss, the Lord.
You could say I was like the unruly employee who wanted to do it all using her own effort and not accept any help from her team or leadership. Who would want to work with that type of employee? But that’s exactly what we do with God when we do not acknowledge His sovereignty and leadership over all aspects of our lives — including our work.
I think the challenge can become even greater when we have very controlling leadership — or even with leadership that inspires you to do great work that you may think is unachievable. It is in the moments when we are surrounded with strong earthly leadership, that we forget to look beyond our natural circumstances to the only leadership that can truly give us wise direction and inspiration for our work. When we look only to the consistency of our earthly leadership for fulfillment and approval, we find ourselves in a place of very inconsistent fulfillment.
Your workplace is not meant to be an opportunity to please other people, but to be a venue in which you please God (Colossians 3:23). Please Him with the gifts, talents, vision, and training that He gave you. But also remember to appreciate and respect the authority and leadership He has put you under on this earth (Titus 3:1).
Today, I encourage you to remember to recognize and honor your earthly authorities, and to always remember who your ultimate Leader is (1 Peter 2:17).