(Note: This article was published on The Faith, Work & Economics blog.)
Two months ago, I had to provide my supervisor a summary of my accomplishments over the past year for my civilian performance review (evaluation). It was a daunting task, but it gave me an opportunity to give praise to God for the strength and wisdom that He provided along the way.
It occurred to me a while back that my responsibilities at work can be described by a handful of action verbs. More importantly, what may be somewhat surprising and helpful to others is that each of these key verbs can be seen through a biblical lens. I strongly believe God cares about these activities and has provided guidance in His Word on how we should accomplish these things in a righteous manner. He has also given us godly examples to show us how to do them in His way.
Let me describe some of the specialized skills that I use every day at my place of employment at one of the U.S. Army’s premier training centers. Many of these actions I do are also done in a variety of other settings, whether in a secular environment or in a vocational Christian ministry.
Here are my top five words that describe what I do at work and a relevant Scripture to go with it:
- Advise. This is my primary function as written in my job description, to advise the school chief of staff and other senior leaders. I spend much time making recommendations to my supervisor on prudent courses of action. Based on my extensive experience, my gut instincts are often right on target. The book of Proverbs commends those who seek advice as wise: “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance” (Prov. 20:18).
- Plan. This is where I lay out the steps necessary to set us up for success. I usually start with an event and work my way backwards to develop milestones, to include scheduling meetings, writing operations orders, completing final products for approval, etc. Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
- Prepare. This the last stage before we conduct a major event. It involves ensuring all the equipment is staged and ready to go. Scripts are written, edited, and rehearsed. Everyone knows their part well. The book of Proverbs acknowledges the value of being prepared for battle. However, there is always a dependence on the Lord for victory (Prov. 21:31).
- Execute. This is where I get to see the results of months of planning and preparation. Once the event kicks off, usually there is little for me to do except enjoy the ceremony. Sometimes I can help the narrator speak louder by catching their eye and putting my hand to my ear. Sometimes I can grab a back-up microphone if the first one isn’t working. Most times, I just take notes on what went right and what we could do better next time. “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride” (Eccl. 7:8).
- Mentor. I do this every day with my Operations team. Sometimes it takes a 30-minute discussion to wrestle with a complex topic such as treating one another with dignity and respect. Other times all I have to say is one or two words to remind them of the standard. One example of a mentor was Jethro, the priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law who counseled him on his need to delegate his responsibilities. (See Exodus 18:14-23.)
Your job is just as unique as my own. You may or may not use any of these skills that I use. The list of verbs that describe all of the jobs that need to be done in our world is probably infinite.
Your list of job skills might include such amazing activities such as cook, build, teach, discipline, comfort, replace, repair, restore, invest, invent, film, unclog, plant, cultivate, design, draw, clean, calculate, report, care, rescue, support, defend, sweep, stock, serve, preach, pave, fly, install, feed, program, administer, translate, negotiate, investigate, move, sell, promote, advertise, research, adjudicate, perform, recruit, write, direct, or deliver. I am obviously just scratching the surface.
Here’s an idea that may help you do your job better by doing what you do according to God’s word. Once you identify your own top five verb list, use an online search tool such as Bible Gateway or a decent concordance, take time to look up some of the verses that pop up. You may find some that resonate deeply with you, keep you focused, and help you to see your work through a biblical lens.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that I was not born with the ability to accomplish all of these functions well. By the grace of God, I was granted certain aptitudes that would set me up for success. Over time, God provided opportunities for me to learn and develop these special skills. As I work hard every day, I truly sense that God is not merely working with me, but in and through me.
Gene Veith, in God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life shares this: “When God blesses us, He almost always does it through other people. . . God protects us through the cop on the beat and the whole panoply of the legal system. He gives us beauty and meaning through artists. He lets us travel through the ministry of auto workers, mechanics, road crews, and airline employees. . . The fast-food worker, the inventor; the clerical assistant, the scientist; the accountant, the musician – they all have high callings, used by God to bless and serve His people and his creation.”
The purpose of this work that God does through you and I as His coworkers is to demonstrate His love to His greatest creation. We work in order to show God’s love to the recipients of our action verbs. Since God cares about these human activities, wants them done right, and even does some of them Himself, we should also care about doing them with a spirit of excellence. (See Col. 3:23-24.)
So, what do you do all day? What has God said about how to use these tasks to glorify Him?
About the author:
Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. More than 60 articles posted on this blog have been published over 120 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.