Summary: This is a sermon encouraging everybody in a ’secular’ job to realise that they are full time ministers, and to unlock their potential.

Faith at Work

The subject that I am going to speak on this morning is one that I have wanted to speak on for some time. Somehow I feel that it is appropriate that I should be speaking on it now, just as I come to the end of my career in the police force and before we begin our work as missionaries. The subject is faith at work.

I have been in some form of employment since I was sixteen years of age. I worked part time while I completed my studies at university. Just over eight years ago I applied to join the police force. There were several stages to the application process and I prayed earnestly at each stage that if it wasn’t God’s will then He would shut the door at each stage. As a result I knew when I entered the police force that I was in the will of God.

The seven and a half years that I have served as a police officer have been very challenging. There have been some real highs as well as some real lows. Elizabeth will tell you how many times I have come home and declared that I wanted to hand in my resignation. It was only the fact that I knew that this is where God had put me that prevented me from doing just that. It is quite ironic that it is just as I am in the most enjoyable period of policing that I am about to leave. The last 12 months, both as a patrol officer and as a police trainer, have been the most pleasurable of my career. It has often been a pleasure to go to work.

The truth is that my work hasn’t got any easier, but God changed my attitude to it. About three years ago God started to reveal to me that my work was not just a career, but a calling. This was confirmed when I went to the national Christian Police Officers conference and listened to a man by the name of David Oliver. I also read one of his books, ‘Work, prison or place of destiny?’ These were things that I had always known, but had failed to let that knowledge change my attitude.

Without realising it, I had seen work as a prison. It had prevented me from getting to as many meetings as I wanted. It had prevented me from fellowshipping with other Christians as much as I wanted. I was coming home stressed and tired. I felt that it got in the way of the spiritual destiny that God had for me. Gradually that changed as I started to realise that my workplace was my place of destiny.

This is the background and the angle at which I want to approach this subject. It is a subject that I would have liked to spend a lot more time on, and maybe even had group studies on. I feel that there will be a lot of people in this meeting who can relate to what I have said about my experiences of work. I just want to lay the foundations this morning of how to view your workplace.

For each person in here their workplace may be very different. It might be staying in and looking after your children. It may be looking after somebody else’s children. It may be voluntary work. You may be retired, and if you are I am talking about the weekly things you do with your time. It may be college; it may be working on your own or in groups, with your hands or with your mind. Each of us will have a different experience of work, but there are general principals that will apply to us all.

I want to answer three questions this morning from a biblical point of view. Why do you work, who do you work for, and how do I balance the needs of my secular work against my spiritual work?

**Why do you work?**

There are many different reasons that motivate people to go to work and then to work when we are there. I want to explore some of those reasons and discover what our main motivators should be.

The first is that it is our way of earning money to support ourselves and our families. Working to earn money is a biblical principal. In Acts 20:34 the Apostle Paul describes how he works hard in order to supply the needs of himself and all of his companions. The tents that he made would have been made of leather which isn’t a particularly easy material to work with. He would have worked hard.

2 Thessalonians tells us that if we don’t work then we don’t eat. We have to work to provide for both ourselves and our families.

1 Timothy 5:8

8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

We are to work in order have. It is only when we become discontented with what we have that this becomes a problem.

Acts 20:33 tells us that Paul did not covet anybody else’s silver or gold. He then passes on this lesson to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

It is not wrong to want to earn money to provide for yourself and your family, but we can fall into the trap of loving money. If you are neglecting your family or church commitments because you just want to earn that little bit more overtime, or go out and work a foreigner (moonlighting), then the chances are you are falling into that trap.

It is not wrong to be ambitious in your career. In fact I believe that God wants to have his people in very well paid jobs and important positions. However if we are willing to step on people in order to climb that ladder then we are falling into the trap. The key is learning to be content.

Somebody once said, ‘contentment is not having everything you want, it is wanting everything that you have.’

The first motivator then to working is in order to earn money. It is a positive motivator as long as it is tempered with contentment, and as long as it isn’t our only motivator.

For the Christian, another motivator is that we work in order to be able to give.

Ephesians 4:28

28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

To work in order only to give at least part of that away is a revolutionary concept to people of this world. But God wants to turn your job into a work of grace.

Acts 20:35

35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ "

This is a much stronger motivator than just working to supply your own needs. It produces a much greater work ethic. It also deals with the problem of loving money.

I believe that there is still a much greater motivator for working. One that many Christians never quite grasp, and in doing so fail to find satisfaction and purpose in their work. This motivator is to realise that we were actually created for work.

If you don’t believe me then firstly remember that we were created in the image of God (Gensis1:27). We were created in the image of a worker. The very first verse in the Bible tells us that God created the universe. Genesis 2:2 calls this creative process ‘work’.

Genesis 1:26 tells us that the purpose of this creation is to rule over the earth. He then takes Adam and puts him to work in the garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:15

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

A lot of Christians seem to be under the misconception that hard work came about as a result of the fall. It didn’t, we were designed for work. After the fall the weeds and the thorns came and work became frustrating and painfully difficult.

As Christians we need to realise that work is not an inconvenience, a curse or an irritation. It is not just that that we have to do in order to support us for when we do God’s will. Instead it is part of our reason for living. It is only when we grasp hold of the fact that work is part of our reason for being here that we will start to find real purpose in our jobs.

**Who do you work for?**

Who we work for often has a large implication on how we actually work. You may work for several other people or for yourself, in which case it is probably your customers who you are subject to. You may have a good boss or an oppressive one. You may work for a strong leader or a weak one. Either way, Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6:5-9, that we should work with respect, fear and sincerity of heart towards those that are over us.

Paul tells us that we must not only do this when we are being watched, but must serve wholeheartedly all the time. You might think that that is easier said than done. After all, I don’t have the same oppressive boss that you have.

The amazing thing here is that Paul wasn’t talking to people working for the local council, land owner, or ship building merchants, he was talking to slaves. These were people who many of whom would have been under oppressive masters. They would have worked in unsafe, unhealthy and unclean conditions. They were tasked with the hardest and cruellest work assignments.

If these people are told to work with sincerity of heart, then what do you think God is saying to us. When a boss tells us to do a menial task that is out of our job remit, what do we do? Do we refuse and stamp our feet? Certainly, if we are being asked to do something unlawful or immoral then we should stand against it. Do we do it but moan and grumble to our colleagues, or do we work with sincerity of heart.

King David knew what it was like to work for an oppressive boss. In 1 Samuel 19:9&10 we read that when David was in Saul’s service, Saul tried to kill him with a spear. Yet David never treated Saul with anything but fear and respect. Some of you may work for some oppressive people, but I am sure that none are quite that bad.

We are called to respect those in authority over us, but we must realise that in reality we don’t work for them. Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:7 are almost identical verses and they tell us that whatever work we are doing, it is for God and not man.

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

We must realise that although we must obey those in charge of us, it is God that we should try and please. He is our ultimate boss. Sometimes, as Christians, we can feel that we need to please everyone that we work with. We try and please our colleagues, customers, bosses and those we are supervising. All we end up doing is burning ourselves out. I have been in that situation and I know how it feels.

An old fable that has been passed down for generations tells about an elderly man who was travelling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back and continued on his way. In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road. (Ed

We need to remember that our boss is God. We might not be able to please everybody but if we concentrate on pleasing Him then it will give us a new passion for the job. If you have a passion for your job, then even if people don’t agree with you on issues along the way, you will gain a respect.

I have publicly disagreed with my Chief Constable on an issue regarding faith. Yet despite that, as I am coming to the end of my service I wrote an email to my Chief stating how much I had respected his leadership. I wasn’t saying it for any other reason than the fact that it was true. The reason I respected his leadership is because he has got a passion for policing.

When you realise that God is your employer, then you will start to regain a passion for your work. You will gain respect even if you aren’t able to please everybody along the way.

By acknowledging that God is your employer you have to also work to his standards. He is a boss that demands above all else, honesty and integrity in your work. You must realise that when you grumble at work, you are grumbling against God, when you steal time from work, you are stealing from God. When you do a shabby or half hearted job at work, then you are doing it for God.


For many years, as a young Christian, I felt torn between the work I wanted to do for God and the secular work that I had to do. As a teenager, shortly after getting saved, I had visions of serving God by entering into full time ministry. If you go into any vibrant youth group today I can guarantee that you will find many young people with a similar desire.

For the next few years I felt that my secular employment stifled my ability to serve God. My view of my life at that time was that I worked in full time secular work and part time in God’s ministry, whether that be preaching or helping in the youth work. I was desperate to reverse that so that I could do part time secular work and full time spiritual work.

If I am honest that thought pattern caused me to resent my work. I viewed it as being less important than my spiritual work and so didn’t give it the attention or effort that it deserved. Yes it helped me to pay the tithes, yes it helped to give to the work of God, but apart from that I felt that my secular employment did little for God’s kingdom and only got in the way.

God showed me something very simple but important a few years ago and that is this. There is no such thing as secular work. The word does not appear in the Bible. Instead of seeing my employment as time that detracted from my time to do spiritual work, I started to grasp hold of the fact that my employment was spiritual, because God had put me there. Although I had always really known that, I had never really grasped hold of it in a way that would revolutionise my thought pattern.

Let me say this, being a plumber, a police officer, a teacher or a housewife, is no less spiritual than being an evangelist, pastor, missionary or priest, as long as you are in the will of God. In fact, some people are in church leadership positions who are out of the will if God and need to get back to doing the type of jobs that many people call secular.

One thing that God has made clear to me is that I am not about to enter full time ministry work, I have always been in it, whether I have always recognised it or not. If you are a Christian today then you are called into full time ministry, whether that is in the church, in the local bank, in the sales room, or in the office block.

If you read Hebrews chapter 11, you read of men and women who are lifted up as examples through history of being champions of faith. If you look at these people then you start to realise that the vast majority had jobs that you wouldn’t normally recognise as being spiritual. Abraham was a nomadic farmer. Joseph had many different positions, none of which would normally be classed as spiritual. Moses was a shepherd and then a political leader (It was his brother who was the priest). Rahab, well, we all know what her job was. It was only the likes of Samuel who had recognisable spiritual position.

The same is true of many of the movers and shakers in the New Testament. Lydia was a dealer of fine linen. Paul, as we have heard, was a tent maker. These were all people who had ordinary jobs and yet by faith changed the world.

You may have the calling to be an evangelist, pastor or a teacher. If God has called you to one of these ministries, then don’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that you are going to have to leave your jobs to fulfil it. There will be people in your workplace who need pastoral care. If you are an evangelist then you are unlikely to find a place where you can build up relationships with non Christians as much as you are in your workplace.

Your workplace is your mission field. If you work 40 hours a week, from 18 to 65 then you will spend 97,760 hours at work. At some point God is going to call those hours to account. We are all called to be full time ministers. That is not 40 hours per week. That is 168 hours per week.

Once my attitude started to change towards work I started to see God work in a greater way in my workplace. The last two or three years have been more productive spiritually than all the years I have worked before. Last week I was just about to go home when a women who worked in the office next door stopped me. She was a backslidden Christian but her son had come to know Christ again. I listened to her for about an hour before she let me pray with her as she wanted to get back with God again.

The following day I went into my office and my manager spoke to me for three hours about concerns with her son. It turned out her son had been a born again Christian. Even though she isn’t a Christian she recognised that this is the answer to his problems and has been encouraging him to try church again.

A couple of days later I was speaking to a Sergeant. He was explaining how he respected all faiths, and lack of faith, but didn’t commit to anything himself. He asked me what I got out of my religion. I was able to explain how my faith gave me hope and purpose for my life. It was one of those occasions where you think of about a hundred extra things that you could have also said afterwards, but my point is that since I started to recognise my workplace as my mission field, God opened the door for opportunities to witness.


I am not an expert on living out your faith at work, but my experiences have led me to see ways in which we can make our work places effective mission fields.

1. Get confirmation from the Lord that the job you are currently in is His will. Knowing this will keep you in the times of trouble. It will give you confidence in your mission. If you are in the wrong job then it can lead to backsliding.

2. Tell your colleagues that you are a Christian. Don’t be afraid to let them know at the earliest opportunity. It will cause them to watch your life, and cause you to make sure you live your life in a way that is pleasing to God.

3. Realise that your employer is God. Once this really sinks in it will give you a passion for your work. Treat every job you do as if God himself is your employer, your colleague and your customer. In this you will gain respect.

4. Give 110% effort and commitment. The bible says that if your brother asks you to go a mile, then go two. The same applies to work ethic. Instead of always trying to get an early dart, don’t be afraid to stay over a little bit and get the job completed without expecting anything for it. What ever you do, or whatever you make then make sure that it is done to the best of your ability.

5. Stop moaning and groaning. If you have an oppressive boss or colleagues, don’t moan about it to others, take it to God. He is in charge of the company and he will ensure that you are looked after.

6. Don’t gossip. This goes for anywhere, but it is especially prevalent at work.

7. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray that the Lord will bless them. Pray for the company that it might be blessed. It will give you a more positive approach to the company.

8. Pray before you go to work each morning that God will give you opportunities to witness. Target people for prayer who you work with.

9. Find other Christians. If other Christians work at the same place as you, then why not pray together and for each other. They will be able to identify with your problems better than most.

10. Remember, The money that you earn is God’s, not yours.