Summary: Do you want to win at work? Then obey your earthly boss, but work for your heavenly Boss. Put Christ at the center of your work, then you will find purpose and peace at the center of your life.
One of my favorite cartoons in the Sunday paper is Dilbert. It’s a spoof on the contemporary office scene, created by Scott Adams. Some time ago, he wrote a book, called The Dilbert Principle, which contains “Dilbert’s Laws of Work”: Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted. When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried. Everything can be filed under “miscellaneous.” If you are good, you will be assigned all the work. If you are really good, you will get out of it. If it wasn't for the last moment, nothing would get done. Keep your boss's boss off your boss's back. Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. (Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4; www.PreachingToday.com)
It seems to me there has to be a better way to winning at work than Dilbert’s Laws of Work. And sure enough, there is! It is God’s Laws of Work, found in the Bible.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (NIV)
Now, when you and I see the word, “slave,” we usually think about the raced-based oppression of African slaves during the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries in our own country. But that was not the case at all in Bible days. Murray Harris, in his book Slave of Christ, describes what slavery was like in the 1st century Greco-Roman world.
Number one, he says, in that time slaves were not distinguishable from anyone else by race, speech, or clothing. They looked and lived like everyone else and were never segregated off from the rest of society in any way.
Number two, slaves were more educated than their owners in many cases and many times held high managerial positions. (cf. Joseph managing Potiphar’s household)
Number three, from a financial standpoint, slaves made the same wages as free laborers and therefore were not themselves usually poor. In fact, they often accrued enough personal capital to buy themselves out. &
Number four, very few persons were slaves for life in the first century. Most expected to be set free after about ten years or by their late thirties at the latest. (Murray Harris, Slave of Christ, IVP, 2001; www.PreachingToday.com)
So you see, slaves in Bible days were a lot like the common laborer today. And what God says to them can apply to any of us, employee or employer alike, who work for a living. So what does God say to us workers? It’s very simple.
OBEY YOUR EARTHLY BOSS.
Listen to what he or she tells you to do and do it. Pay attention to the direction he or she gives you and follow it as best as you can. By the way, this works with school-teachers as well. Just do what they say even when they’re not looking.