Does God want us to work really hard and achieve excellence in our workplace? Or does He want us to work and wait upon His blessings or timing for everything? I am at a crossroad between working really hard or simply working average and waiting for His blessing to just pour out. I’ve been hearing so much about “waiting upon the Lord” but where does my own effort come in place? And how much of it should I exert and how much should just be on faith/waiting?
— Jerald, Toronto
Jerald, thanks for sending your question from Toronto — I love Canada, and it’s great to have readers there. You’ve asked a great question, and I’m glad you did, because it opens the door to a really important discussion that needs to happen more often in the Christian community.
I’m going to give you a short version of the answer first, then follow it up with scriptural references and explanations to give you more detail.
So here’s the short answer: Yes, God wants us to work really hard and achieve excellence. He blesses us in His timing, but He does so according to the faithfulness and diligence that we’ve shown. So go out there and give it your all to win in the workplace… but be careful that you don’t get carried away to the point where your life becomes unbalanced, because this is a form of financial slavery.
Evidence in Scripture
Now, let’s break this answer down some and look at the parts in detail. First of all, the Scripture is clear that God created work, and He wants us to work hard in order to help others and earn the things that we need. There are tons of verses that I could give you to make this clear, but my favorite comes from Prov. 10:4. It was written by Solomon, the richest man ever to live, and it clearly spells out where wealth comes from:
Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
We’ve also examined the importance of work in various other articles on this site, and each one uses a specific scripture to demonstrate a principle about work:
- God Wants You to Work — This post examines what Paul writes about the importance of working hard in II Thes. 3:6-13.
- Providing: It Starts with Work — We look at what Prov. 28:19 teaches about the importance of working hard in providing for our families.
- All Work is God’s Work — God wants us to do all our work with our whole hearts, according to Col. 3:23-24.
- Good Stewards are Hard Workers — Learning the importance of hard work from the Parable of the Talents in Matt. 25:16-17.
I could go on and on with these references, but the main idea is this: God created man for work, and He intends for all of us to work hard. He promises to provide for us, it’s true, but scripture indicates that His main way of providing for our needs is through our work.
Simply put, there is no reason for you as a Christian not to be a shining example of hard work and excellence in the marketplace, no matter what kind of work you’re doing.
Waiting on God’s Blessing
I’m really glad that you asked about the idea of “waiting on God’s blessing,” Jerald, because this is a concept that many people get confused about. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called “prosperity preachers” have spread the idea that if you believe the right things and have enough faith to wait for God, He’ll eventually bless you with material wealth. Unfortunately, this is a very incomplete and immature view of scripture and the nature of God.
Prosperity preachers have plenty of critics, and we’ve weighed in on the subject a number of times. Let’s be clear: The Bible does teach that God wants to bless us with abundance, and that this blessing includes meeting our worldly needs. But as we’ve just discussed, the primary way that God does this is through our work.
Though you can find instances in scripture where God met someone’s material needs through supernatural intervention, these instances are never present as the standard operating procedure for Christians. In the story of the Elisha and the widow’s oil, for example, God provided oil and flour to the destitute widow only when she was at the very end of her earthly resources.
While it’s okay for us to cry out to God for help when we find ourselves in dire straits that we can’t possibly escape on our own, that’s not the way that God wants us to live each day.
Instead, our waiting on God should be in the context of obeying Him to work hard and be diligent. Go out there and do everything He has called you to do in the marketplace, and then wait on Him to bless your hard work according to His promises. You’ll always reap what you sow — that’s the way that God designed the world to work.
Don’t Become a Slave
Before I sign off, let me give you one last piece of advice on this topic. While hard work is an important part of God’s plan, we have to make sure that we keep our work balanced and in perspective, just like any other part of our lives.
When you start really succeeding at work — and reaping the financial rewards of your efforts — it can be tempting to double down, work longer hours and take on extra projects in order to make even more money. And while there are times in life when it may be appropriate to work long hours, you probably don’t want to make a habit of it.
Remember, money can trap us in bondage if we’re not careful, and one of the ways that it can happen is by making us slaves to work. If your work (and the money you earn from it) ever begins to come between you and the people you love, or you start to draw your identity from your work in unhealthy ways, you may have gone so far that you’re neglecting God’s will for you in other areas of your life.
It’s important to be careful and be balanced. But most of all, be diligent. God wants you to work, and He wants to make a difference in the world through your work. He promises to bless you when you spend your time blessing others.
So, go get ’em, Jerald. I’ll be cheering you on from Kentucky.
Photo by Jeremy Kunz. Used under Creative Commons License.