The Diligent Earner
When it comes to Earning, taking a Biblical approach can sometimes be challenging.
Many in our congregations fall into one of two extremes on the “earner spectrum”. Some may be Disinterested Earners – people who simply put in the time and do what is required without any real sense of commitment or honoring God in their work. Disinterested earners view work as a necessary evil, a requirement in order to earn a paycheck and make a living. They’re living with the “Working for the weekend” mentality.
Others may be Driven Earners – people who derive their sense of identity and purpose from work rather than from God. They’re dedicated to their work – so much so that they tend to neglect family and other important relationships, as well as their walks with God. Promotions, raises, and other accolades in the work environment encourage them to see their value in terms of their work, rather than as a child of God.
In contrast, God calls us to be Diligent Earners – people who work with commitment, purpose, and gratitude. Diligent earners work this way because they see work as a gift from God, and this view keeps their work in perspective.
Character traits of Diligent Earners
Diligent earners have a Biblical view of work, understanding that work was created by God and was initially given to man prior to the Fall (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). They know that work is part of being in God’s image (John 5:17); as a result, they recognize that how they work reflects on God’s character. At the same time, they realize that their value is not in their accomplishments at work, their position, or their paycheck. Instead, they identify their value as beloved sons and daughters of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1).
Diligent earners are grateful, recognizing that the ability to work and produce wealth is itself a gift from God (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). They’re thankful for all the things that go into their ability to produce wealth – education, physical health, strong economy, etc. And while they appreciate what they’re able to earn, they don’t see their job or their company as their provider; they see God in that role.
Because diligent earners recognize that all this comes from God, they’re also humble. They don’t think of themselves more highly than they should (Romans 12:3) and don’t take on self-importance resulting from their title or their responsibilities. They value others in the workplace above themselves (Philippians 2:3).
Habits of Diligent Earners
Diligent earners work hard, but they do more than just that. They strive to make their companies and their bosses successful. They care about the end results of their work and invest not just their labor but also their expertise. Diligent earners work “with all their heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
Diligent earners see work as a part of their testimony to their coworkers. As a result, they work hard to produce quality results. At the same time, diligent earners care about their coworkers, so they strive to facilitate an atmosphere of teamwork and encouragement. They put the team first, and are quick to praise and encourage others.
Because diligent earners are grateful, they perform their work without complaining or arguing. Paul links this attitude to our testimony among non-believers (Philippians 2:14-16). Such a perspective is most important when the work environment is difficult. Maintaining a positive attitude when things are good is like loving those who love us – anyone can do that (Matthew 5:46). But a positive attitude in difficult times sets believers apart from the world and gives us a testimony to God’s grace.
Diligent earners get their identity from Christ rather than from their work. As a result, they don’t depend on promotions and raises to validate their worth. These tend to come over time, but diligent earners respond with gratitude rather than entitlement. Additionally, diligent earners maintain a good sense of work-life balance. They may occasionally work overtime to meet an important deadline, but they place a priority on time with their family and on their walk with God.
Equipping Diligent Earners
How do we encourage our congregations toward becoming Diligent Earners? In the case of Disinterested Earners, we’ll need to emphasize the Scriptural value of work and the way work reflects being made in God’s image. God gave work to only one of his creatures in all creation – man! Through work, we uniquely reflect the image of God. Even for jobs that aren’t as interesting, challenging, or rewarding as we would like, God has a purpose. God uses work to help shape us, and it’s typically the place with the most opportunities to reflect God to non-believers.
In the case of Driven Earners, we’ll need to remind them of their worth in Christ – a worth not based on work accomplishments, titles, or paychecks. We may need to point out that even God Himself brought balance to work by resting on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). And we may need to warn them against putting their sense of security in anything but God.
Why it Matters
The church benefits when its congregation are diligent earners in a few ways. First, diligent earners take seriously the challenges that work provides (and those challenges can be many!). As a result, they may be driven to the Word and to the community for guidance as to how to live out their faith at work. This strengthens the community, as members of the body help each other in this key area. Churchgoers who take their faith seriously at work tend to be more engaged and more committed to the body.
Second, the church benefits when its members have good reputations at work. This speaks highly of the character that God produces in us and can open opportunities for relationships and ultimately for the Gospel.