Jobs in the City are known for being well paid but also for long hours. As Christians, it is often a struggle to know what to do when we are asked to work overtime again, or our boss gives us a piece of work just as we're heading to Bible study. We asked Caroline, who works in a nearby bank to share her thoughts on how to make godly decisions about long hours.
Note the word “godly”. Without this adjective, our answers may be dramatically different. With it, our decisions should then be based on what God wants us to do not what we sinfully desire.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
Scripture tells us God wants us to do everything for His glory. Therefore, we could rephrase our question to “am I glorifying God by working long hours?” A common answer heard in the City is: “no, surely my time is better spent in church than replying to all these emails”. Although this may be true in many instances, we should also remember that we also glorify and honour God when we are good workers in the office.
“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24 (ESV)
We may serve the Lord through our choice to work longer hours. God can be glorified if His people are not seen as lazy, but instead hardworking Christians who care for their colleagues and organisation.
Long hours may also be the result of attending Bible studies for part of the evening and returning to work to finish the outstanding tasks. We honour God when we choose to sacrifice an earlier finish at the office for Him so that we can better understand His teaching and participate in fellowship to build up other Christians.
The key then is to ask whom are we working the long hours for? If we are pulling the all-nighters for our own glory; to secure the next promotion, to gain praise from our colleagues and/or because we proudly believe we are the only ones who can deal with the matter, then we need to look back at the cross to show us who should govern our lives. If long hours are the result of us worshipping an idol, such as professional success or money, then it cannot be the godly decision to make.
Choosing to work long hours would also not be a godly decision if it consistently takes away our time to worship God and/or prevents us from carrying out His ultimate work to share the gospel.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
We must remember we are always first and foremost God’s workers and therefore, need to place His work of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ as the highest priority. That is not to say we should all go in to paid full time Christian ministry, but instead we should not let “worldly” work hinder our “gospel” work. If we sacrifice our evenings and work long hours to maintain a job so that we can share the gospel with colleagues who would otherwise not hear it, then this can be a godly decision. On the other hand, if the work is never-ending and we are rarely (if at all) given the opportunity to evangelise, we should pray for wisdom to find a way to get back on God’s fundamental work plan, which could mean changing jobs.
Like everything we have, our time is also God-given. We must then always keep Him at the centre of the decision-making process and ask ourselves whom are we glorifying when we work the long hours? If not Him, it would seem strange to call it a godly decision.