1. When working on something, when do you feel most motivated to do this for Christ? What hinders you at other times from feeling like you’re working for Christ?
“No plays off.” “Go hard or go home.” These are mantras that coaches and athletes abide by. They capture an essential element of what it takes to be successful in sports. They also have carry-over value in how we approach our work – whether “work” for you is full-time coaching, doing another job in addition to coaching, being a student-athlete, working a part-time job, working at home, or another “work” situation.
In the Bible, God directs us to take a “no play offs” mentality with our work. What motivates us to do this, and how is this possible? Understand why Jesus’ resurrection matters for our work.
Read Colossians 3:1-3, 23-24
In the first two verses of Colossians 3, God through the Apostle Paul says to “set your hearts on things above” and “set your minds on things above” – or as the New Living Translation puts it, “set your sights on the realities of heaven” and “think about the things of heaven.” Why? And how is this possible? Because of what the resurrection of Jesus does for us when we place our faith in him: “since you have been raised to new life with Christ” (v. 1).
When we’re united by faith with Jesus and his resurrection, this transforms our perspective. When Paul talks about “things above” or “heaven,” he’s not referring to a physical place. What Paul means is the realm or sphere where God’s reign as King is fully realized. The new life we’re given through Jesus’ resurrection is life in God’s eternal kingdom, life under God’s good, loving, and righteous rule as our King.
To set our hearts and minds on this is to orient our perspective around the values, characteristics, and goals of God’s kingdom. We want to view ourselves according to our new identity in Christ. We want to see other people as God sees them. We want to care about what God cares about. We want to reject what God rejects (e.g. sin, injustice).
2. How does the transformed perspective we’re directed to have in Colossians 3 impact our approach to our work?
The rest of Colossians 3 begins to fill in the details of what this transformed perspective means for how we pursue our new life in Christ, including how we approach our work (vv. 23-24). Here are three dimensions of a kingdom perspective on work. First, we recognize that all work matters. Paul says in v. 23 “whatever you do.” Every form of work (assuming it’s not endorsing sin) gives opportunities to promote the values, characteristics, and goals of God’s kingdom – even if it feels small.
Second, we recognize that working hard matters. Paul puts it this way: “work at it with all your heart” (NIV) or “work willingly” (NLT). When we take a “no plays off” approach to our work, we honor the Lord by respecting our employer and supervisor. We live out the kingdom value of being good stewards of the time and energy we’re to give to our work.
Third, we recognize that working with the right motivation matters. It’s good and right to receive a paycheck and benefits (or an education and degree) for doing our work. However, our ultimate motivation is this: we are working for the Lord. “Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (v. 24). We’re motivated by the desire to make our lives count for Christ in all areas, including our work.
The new life we have in God’s kingdom because of Jesus’ resurrection transforms our perspective, including our perspective on our work. Whether you’re a coach or an athlete, whether you have a job or your current work is being a student, work is a significant part of your life. See your work as God sees it, and carry out your work in ways that glorify Christ.
3. Consider your current work in light of the kingdom perspective outlined in Colossians 3:24-24 – all work matters, working hard matters, and working with the right motivation matters. In which of these dimensions do you need the most growth or change in your perspective? Bring this to the Lord in prayer.
Colossians 3:23 –
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.