The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 12 - “Wisdom for the Workplace”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads”, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” how to find fantastic friends, the worst of all sins-Pride, Leaving laziness, eliminating envy, wisdom for better health, how to stifle stress, how to improve your marriage and positive parenting principles. Today we are going to look at wisdom for the workplace.

Have you done some kind of work this week? You know, yard work, homework, job-related work? Everyone works! Even if you are a student, a homemaker, or retired, you still have to work. Work is profitable for us not only financially, but also physically and emotionally. The Bible has much to say about work. The world's attitude toward work is "Thank God, it's" what? Friday! (TGIF) But our attitude as Christians should be "Thank God, it's Monday, and I have a job and a place of ministry."

We sometimes neatly divide our lives into secular and sacred. Many people say, "I would like to quit my job and serve the Lord full-time." Did you know that no matter what your occupation, you are serving the Lord full-time? Wherever you work is your field of ministry.

In order to have wisdom for the workplace, there are two requirements...

#1) Visualize your work as sacred.

Don't think you must be a pastor or a missionary to serve the Lord full-time. Every job is sacred. Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Many great people in the Bible were not prophets or priests. Joseph was an administrator and CFO; Moses was a shepherd; Ruth was a homemaker; Daniel was a bureaucrat; David was a writer and politician; Nehemiah was a cupbearer; and Paul supported himself as a tentmaker. Many of the greatest people in the Bible had what we call "secular" jobs.

Sadly, many Christians today are "turned on" spiritually but "turned off" vocationally. As a result, more harm is done spiritually against the cause of Christ Monday through Friday than can be repaired on Sunday. If we visualize our work as sacred, we will be motivated to do two things:

-Be productive. Christians should be the most dedicated, dependable, trusted, and sought-after workers in the world. Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

Not only is being a hard worker a great witness to the world, but the diligent worker will also prosper. What this means is negligent workers will be poor, but hard-working employees will prosper. God wants us to prosper through good work. Have you noticed that hard workers are happier than people who are lazy or who "goof-off"? Doing a job and doing it well brings a sense of fulfillment. Whether you are a custodian, attorney, farmer, teacher, or an accountant, doing your job well brings a sense of accomplishment and happiness. Proverbs 12:14 says, “A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.”

Whether we work with our hands or our minds, a job done well will usually bring rewards.Whether we are carpenters, doctors, secretaries, mechanics, or whatever, as Christians we are called to set the standard. We are to do the best work we can, no matter what the job. When an employer is looking for someone to fill a position, he or she should be able to say, "I want to hire a Christian because Christians are always honest, hard-working, and do great jobs."

Shoddy workmanship is a poor witness and a sin because it violates the command to work with all our hearts (Col. 3:23). Whatever our occupations, God is our ultimate Boss, and we should work with all our hearts. And so we said that if we visualize our work as sacred that we will be productive and….

-Be positive. Are there any whiners where you work? Whiners are always saying things like: "Everything always seems to go their way," or, "They are so lucky; everything they do turns into money." Whiners are always blaming something or someone for their lack of progress or success. However, we create our own success. Have you noticed the so-called "lucky people" are almost always hard workers? This is true because fools become the servants of the wise (Prov. 11:29b).

People who work hard usually get the breaks. It's not luck. Hard workers "rise and shine"; lazy people "rise and whine." God hates whining. Remember what the Lord did when the Israelites began to whine during their time in the wilderness? He sent poisonous snakes that bit the people, and many died (Num. 21:6). Next time you start whining, remember the snakes. But, also remember the command found in Philippians 2:14 that says to, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” The next verse tells us why: so we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15).

God wants us to stand out at work. If you want to shine like a light in a dark world, don't whine. You may say, "You just don't know what it's like where I work. I get so tired of the cussing and dirty jokes. I would be enthusiastic if I could work with only committed Christians." You're missing the point. Your workplace is your mission field! The workplace is where we most often need to remember what words of Jesus in Matthew 5:16 which say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Where do you need light? Where there is what? Darkness! God wants you to be where your witness is needed most. He wants you to be in a mission field, not constantly in a huddle with a bunch of baptized believers.

We said that to have wisdom for the workplace, you must visualize your work as sacred and...

#2) You must capitalize on opportunities to improve your skills.

This means never stop learning! God wants us to be great workers, and great workers are always learning new job skills. The more we learn, the more valuable we become to our employers. There is an old saying, "The more you learn, the more you earn." But more important, the more you learn, the more God can use you because you will have more opportunities. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”

The word translated diligent can also mean "quick" or "prompt" in one's work. Diligent employees who do their work skillfully and quickly usually get promotions, as well as job offers from other employers. It pays to sharpen our skills. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.”

Chopping wood with a dull ax takes much more time and energy than chopping with a sharp ax. The principle is to sharpen your skills by getting all the education or training you can in your field. You are never wasting your time when you "sharpen your ax"your skills or talents. Whatever your occupation, God wants you to be the very best. Why? Because the better you are at your work, the more opportunities you will have to share Christ. God has given you the ability to excel in a particular area. He gave you that ability to make a difference for Him in this world. So, whatever you do, do your very best, and do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31b).

Let’s pray.

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