My values for work and my work ethic have been influenced by many,
some through direct experience and demonstration by great and horrible bosses, and others through minds in books: Ernest Hemingway on the attractiveness and persuasiveness of brevity; Ray Dalio on embracing the natural bents, strengths, and weaknesses of others, Shane Parrish on the many mental models I could employ to make smarter decisions, and Marcus Aurelius’ father on how to treat your co-workers, to name a few.
I give credit to the Bible for most of the underlying values in work I’ve cultivated in my professional life; They are things I strive to abide by and commit to at the age of 28.
Here are some lessons I learned from the Bible on how to live as a Christian in work:
Rest and relaxation must become a familiar presence in your life.
Having work physically, emotionally and mentally consume one’s life and identity is against the character of a Christian life.
As a Christian, participating in the Sabbath is an act of obedience, a reminder for me that I am not a slave beholden to my work (“How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12)), and a demonstration that I’m putting my money where my mouth is when I say I believe God is sovereign, at the center of my life and my purpose for being.
It’s also an healthy act of rest: to rejuvenate, restore, and re-center myself in the things that matter most to me in life.
So, we keep the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14):
Listen and actively seek and embrace guidance and counsel from others.
Be humble and open minded in the counsel and feedback of others.
Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Proverbs 11:14: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”
Proverbs 24:6 on being a wise and successful king: “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers”.
What these verses do not imply is to accept the guidance of anyone, or to always embrace the guidance of close counsel. They simply state the value of taking into deep consideration the counsel of one’s advisors. Who do you see as an advisor in your life? Hopefully someone close, who reflects principles and values you respect, and someone you trust and respect.
Despite demonstrated differences in values, principles, and/or opinion, have respect for and be respectful of placed authority.
It is important to show a level of respect to those placed in specific positions as they have been “elected” and placed there by people, whether it be by the board of your company, or by your nation’s people. (Romans 13)
While I struggle with showing deep admiration for someone when his/her principles are at odds with mine, regardless of position, I learned that is different from being able to show thoughtfulness and respect for the dignity and position of another.
Shane Parrish, founder of Farnam Street, has also savvily quipped once: “you can disagree without saying anything.”
Engage in and pursue work that has purpose and meaning.
Being involved in work that is “beneficial,” “constructive,” or benefiting the “good of others” is in close character with Jesus Christ.
Celebrate and compliment your colleagues’ strengths and accomplishments. Mentor your juniors; actively give credit to them.
Lift up your peers [hype them] when there is any true opportunity to do so. BUT avoid flattery.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:18)
“For there is no truth in their mouth…. their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” ( Psalm 5:9)