How to know when you’re worshipping your work

Ali Stigall

I’d been happily working at the office for almost two years when out of nowhere everything changed. What once was a joyous environment became tense and negative as my self-professed “Christian” supervisor engaged in some un-Christlike behavior toward her employees.  

She lied, she connived, she was deceitful, and she degraded us every chance she could. It made me angry, it made me bitter, and it took up a lot of space in my head. 

Every night before falling asleep,  I would imagine how I would give my two weeks notice. Each morning, I woke up stewing on work drama. On the way to the office, I would pray, “God, please let us have a good day today. Please save her and convict her of her behavior.”

It wasn’t until I was given an outrageous performance review that three realizations finally hit me: 

  • Her untrue allegations about my character were intended to hurt me instead of helping me grow professionally or spiritually. 
  • I should have been praying for God to change me and how I handle the situation rather than praying for her to change. 
  • I’d been making her opinions of me my god for way too long!  

I had been unhealthily attached to my work for so long that I’d failed to remember my identity in Christ

Working in the world while working for the Lord

Having a strong work ethic is important. Ecclesiastes 3:22 says, “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” 

But an identity based on our careers cannot replace our heavenly identity in Christ.  

 An identity based on our careers cannot replace our heavenly identity in Christ.  

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  When my mind dwells on issues at work instead of investing time in God’s word or with God’s people, I become someone cold and hard. Someone unlike Jesus.  

Five signs your job might be your idol

Humans were made for worship (Isaiah 43:7), and we’re really good at it. The problem is when we give our worship to someone or something other than Jesus. That’s what it means to worship an idol. An idol is more than a statue or figurine. It can also be a false conception we greatly admire.  

1. Are the majority of your friends the people you see from 9am to 5pm?

Don’t get me wrong, work friendships can be great. But if we never see our work friends outside of work, are they real friends? And if the only things we ever talk about are related to work, are we really spurring one another on toward love and good deeds? (Hebrews 10:24)

Who we become is greatly influenced by who we spend time with. A mutual disdain of something or someone is not a solid foundation for true friendship. Real friends help us push past the office negativity and grow in our relationships with Jesus. 

2. Do most of your conversations at home center on what’s happening at the office?

Let’s be honest, no spouse wants to hear you talk about work two hours after you’ve both gotten off. Sometimes, we get tunnel vision and need someone who loves us to kindly remind us to turn off the office soapbox.

3. When you introduce yourself, do you first state what you do?

How we introduce ourselves can be a reflection of where we find our identity. We were created to be more than what we do to make money.

4. Do thoughts of losing your job feel like your whole world would unravel?

The overwhelming fear that losing your job would cause everything else to fall apart may indicate a dependence on money and control instead of trust in Jesus.

5. Is the excuse “I have to work” a way to escape from personal responsibilities?  

We all know how to use excuses to evade the truth.  Let’s avoid excuses and get to the true priority: What is the problem I shadow with excuses and how can I instead depend on Jesus, the ultimate problem solver? 

The more I entertained these thoughts, the more I realized that no matter which career path I take and who I work for, spreading the good news about Jesus saving me from sin is my most important job. Ministry isn’t just for people who work at a church. If we are made new in Christ, ministry is all around us. 

Re-establishing Jesus as the center of my life helped me view my career differently. No matter what I do or where I am, my identity must remain rooted in Jesus. Even when my boss is being unfair, even if someone steals my lunch from the break room refrigerator, and even when I don’t get that raise I know I deserve, Jesus is faithful. 

During the best and worst times at work, I focus on Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” When I’m focused on working for the Lord while I’m at my job, I have peace and wisdom that He will take care of me no matter what the circumstance.

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