Christian Biblical Counsel: EMPLOYMENT

Employment

Be Extraordinary among the Ordinary

by June Hunt

I.     Definitions

A. What Is Employment?

•     Employment is the performance of work on a regular basis that results in wages.

•     To employ means to put to use for a purpose.

B. What Is Work?

•     Work is physical or mental energy used in an effort to produce a result.

•     Your work is your effort to produce the results that God created you to do.

C. What Is an Occupation?

•     The noun occupation comes from the Latin verb occupare, which means “to take or fill up.”

•     Your occupation is your principal work.

—Types of Occupations

a. Business      a commercial or mercantile manual occupation: the printing business

b. Professional            an occupation requiring special training in a field of science or learning: the teaching profession

c. Trade           an occupation involving training and skill: the carpentry trade

D. What Is a Vocation?

•     The word vocation comes from the Latin vocatio, which means “a calling.”

•     Your vocation is an inner or divine call to work in a specific occupation.

E. What Is Ministry?

•     A ministry is a time of service on behalf of others that fulfills God’s meaning and purpose for you.

•     Whatever your work is, it should be your ministry.

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

(Colossians 3:17)

Ministry

Measured by God … He rewards according to effort.

“You know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:8)

Initiated by God … He has a unique plan for us.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Noticed by God … He sees all that we do.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1–3)

Increased by God … He produces the fruit of our labor.

“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” (Psalm 128:2)

Service to God … We are to serve God, not man.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

Trusting in God … He will reveal our path.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)

Rebuked by God … Because of sin, we can expect difficulty.

“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.’ ” (Genesis 3:17–18)

Yielding to God … He expects us to tithe.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)

 

II.    Characteristics of Job Dissatisfaction

A. Checklist of Complaints

The pay is too low.

There is no chance for advancement.

There are not enough benefits.

The stress level is too high.

The hours are too long.

The work is not challenging.

The location is not convenient.

There is not enough responsibility.

The management is not competent.

There is too much responsibility.

The boss is too demanding.

The working conditions are depressing.

The coworkers are not pleasant.

There is no sense of accomplishment.

There is no job security.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

(Philippians 2:14–15)

B. Side Effects of Dissatisfaction

•     Emotional

—anger,   frustration

—bitterness

—stress

—anxiety

—low   self-worth

—inability   to concentrate

—hopelessness

—depression

 

•     Physical

—fatigue

—headaches

—overeating

—substance   abuse

—backaches

—high   blood pressure

—sleeplessness

—inability   to be productive

 

“I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

(Ecclesiastes 2:17)

Q“Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been quick-tempered, which isn’t like me. Why am I so angry?”

Your disposition has not necessarily changed, but you may be experiencing a temporary reaction to the stress created by losing the security of your job. There are four root causes for anger: hurt, injustice, fear, and frustration. If you are experiencing one or more of these emotions, then your anger may be coming from that feeling. Once you have pinpointed the source of your anger, you can devise a plan for dealing with the root cause, and then you will soon find your anger coming under control. Anger can be like the warning lights on the dashboard of your car that alert you to a problem under the hood. Anger can alert you to a problem in your thoughts, your emotions, your body, and/or your spirit. First find the source of the problem and then cooperate with the Lord by applying His truth—allow Him to do the “fixing” for you.

“ ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26–27)

Evaluating Dissatisfaction

•     Is a change needed in my life?

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24)

—unconfessed sin

—wrong attitudes

—negative habits

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

•     Is there a situation or person I need to confront?

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:21)

•     Is there a financial need I’m not asking God to meet?

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

•     Is God preparing me for a future change?

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12–14)

 

III.   Causes of Job DIssatIsfaCtIon

A. The Source of Your Motivation

Secular versus Spiritual

•     To provide plenty and obtain security

 

•     To provide for living and giving

 

•     To develop my identity

 

•     To develop my character

 

•     To have power over others

 

•     To be of service to others

 

•     To decrease my stress

 

•     To increase my discipline

 

•     To bring glory to myself

 

•     To bring glory to God

 

•     To fulfill my purpose

 

•     To fulfill God’s purpose

 

“Do not worry,   saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we   wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father   knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,   and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31–33)

 

“Whatever you   do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving   thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

 

B. Root Cause for Lack of Work Satisfaction

Wrong Belief: “This job is not meeting my expectations for personal fulfillment, recognition or financial independence.”

Right Belief: God will use my work environment to develop my character as well as my skills. I will focus on serving my employer and all fellow workers with attitudes that reflect the character of Christ.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5–7)

 

IV.  steps to solutIon

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your

heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(Colossians 3:23)

B. Key Book to Read and Reread

The Book of Nehemiah

(example of a godly administrator)

The godly administrator has a calling of God, character developed by God and conduct that reflects God.

•     Empathy for staff

 

            v. 1:5

 

•     Understanding of authority

 

            v. 1:5

 

•     Servant’s heart

 

            v. 1:6

 

•     Humility

 

            vv. 1:6–7

 

•     Accountability

 

            vv. 1:6–7

 

•     Faithfulness

 

            vv. 1:8–9

 

•     Self-control

 

            vv. 2:2–3

 

•     Loyalty

 

            v. 2:5

 

•     Foresight

 

            vv. 2:6–8

 

•     Initiative

 

            vv. 2:7–9

 

•     Wisdom

 

            vv. 2:11–16

 

•     Team-builder

 

            vv. 2:17–18

 

•     Organization

 

            vv. 3:1–32

 

•     Leadership

 

            vv. 4:13–14

 

•     Discernment

 

            vv. 4:19–20

 

•     Decisiveness

 

            v. 4:22

 

•     Fairness

 

            vv. 5:6–7

 

C. The Search

•     Pray that God will lead you in His will for your life.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10)

•     Analyze your skills.

—Identify the gifts and abilities God has given you.

—Identify your past achievements.

—Identify the source of your personal satisfaction.

—Identify what motivates you.

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

•     Be realistic about your career choices.

“The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.” (Proverbs 14:14)

•     Knock on all doors of opportunity.

“Ask [and keep on asking] and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

•     Ask God to shut the wrong doors.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

•     Refuse negative thoughts about your self-worth.

“For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (1 Corinthians 1:5–7)

D. Be Extraordinary among the Ordinary

•     Develop initiative.

•     Develop personal goals.

•     Develop a positive outlook.

•     Develop organizational skills.

•     Develop a listening ear.

•     Develop confidence.

•     Develop integrity.

•     Develop friendliness.

•     Develop enthusiasm.

•     Develop imagination.

•     Develop persistence.

•     Develop loyalty.

 

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

(Philippians 2:14–15)

E. When Work Isn’t Working

Consider a Change …

•     When you may lose your job

—Replaced by advanced technology

—Depressed job market layoffs

—Physically disabled

•     When more income is needed because of a major life change

—Divorce

—Death of spouse

—Increased family responsibility

•     When your best is not enough

—Evaluate your efforts.

—Evaluate your attitudes.

—Evaluate your skills and natural abilities.

•     When you are pressured to compromise your principles

—Is this activity contrary to Scripture?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” (Psalm 119:105–106)

—Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth.

“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13)

—Seek godly counsel from those in a work related field.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” (Proverbs 19:20)

—Do not compromise your convictions.

“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’ ” (Acts 5:29)

F.  Success vs. Stress

•     See your work from God’s perspective.

“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. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (Colossians 3:22–25)

•     Accept the fact that God is directing the events of your life.

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

•     Lower your expectations in this life: no job will be ideal.

“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.’ ” (Genesis 3:17–18)

•     Begin each morning in prayer to commit the day to God.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

•     Pray for your employer and fellow employees.

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

•     Allow Christ to reflect Himself through you each day.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

—Develop positive attitudes.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

—Display a servant’s heart.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)

—Defuse difficult people.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

—Discover His power in your weaknesses.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

•     Learn how to make an appropriate appeal to your employer.

“He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

•     Put your future into the hands of God.

“I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25–27)

G. God’s Avenue of Appeal

Learn to Make an Appropriate Appeal

“He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.”

(Proverbs 22:11)

Authority

•     “Am I under God’s authority, and have I placed my faith in Jesus Christ?”

“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

•     “Am I presenting my request to God in prayer?”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

•     “Am I under the God-given authority of my employer?”

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1–2)

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” (Ephesians 6:5–9)

Position

•     “Do I have a clear conscience?”

“He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” (Proverbs 2:7)

•     “Am I fulfilling my responsibilities?”

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

•     “Do I have positive attitudes?”

“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Purpose

•     “Are my motives for the appeal pure?”

“If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.” (Job 8:6)

•     “Am I seeking to honor the Lord?”

“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” (Daniel 1:8)

•     “Am I concerned for my employer’s personal reputation?”

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

Entreaty

•     Timing—“Have I asked permission for an appropriate time when there will not be interruptions?”

“The king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, ‘Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.’ Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.’ ” (Esther 7:1–4)

•     Information—“Is my information accurate?”

“A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” (Proverbs 12:17)

•     “Do I have wise alternatives, as Daniel did?”

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:12)

•     Wording—“Am I positive in my approach, using personal convictions?”

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:23)

•     “Am I using noncondemning statements?”

“He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

Acceptance

•     “Have I come to the place of having no will of my own?”

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

•     “Am I prepared to accept the response as coming from the Lord?”

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1)

•     “Am I willing to make personal sacrifices, if necessary?”

“Now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” (Exodus 32:32)

Loyalty

•     “Am I loyal to my employer although my appeal is rejected?”

“Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ ” (Ruth 1:16)

•     “Am I loyal when approached by critical coworkers?”

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20)

•     “Will I remain loyal to my employer through adverse conditions?”

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)

An Example of an Appeal

“Thank you for giving me this time to talk with you.”

First, I want you to know how grateful I am for all that I have learned since I’ve been here and for the opportunity to contribute to this company (name). Under your leadership, I feel I’ve been stretched, and now I am a better person.”

Second, I would like to mention an item for your consideration (state specific request).”

Example:

“I have increasingly been interested in marketing and would appreciate being considered for a change of work responsibilities for the following reasons (list reasons).”

“After you’ve made your assessment, please know that I will accept your ultimate decision and will continue to be loyal to you and to the company.”

The   purpose of your work should be …

not   to fulfill your purposes

but   to fulfill God’s purposes for you.

—June   Hunt

 

Selected Bibliography

Addington, Thomas, and Stephen Graves. A Case for Calling: Fulfilling God’s Purpose in Your Life at Work. The Cornerstones for Life at Work (4 book set). Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998.

Addington, Thomas, and Stephen Graves. A Case for Skill: God’s Standard for Excellence. The Cornerstones for Life at Work (4 book set). Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998.

Baldwin, Stanley C. Take This Job & Love It: Solving the Problems You Face at Work. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988.

Blanchard, Kenneth, Bill Hybels, and Phil Hodges. Leadership by the Book: Tools to Transform Your Workplace. New York: WaterBrook, 1999.

Ellis, Gwen. 101 Ways to Make Money at Home. Ann Arbor, MI: Vine, 1996.

Graves, Stephen, and Thomas Addington. A Case for Character: Authentic Living in Your Workplace. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998.

Graves, Stephen, and Thomas Addington. A Case for Serving: Responding Selflessly to the Needs of Others. The Cornerstones for Life at Work (4 book set). Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Mattson, Ralph, and Arthur Miller. Finding a Job You Can Love. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Sherman, Doug. Keeping Your Head Up When Your Job’s Got You Down. Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991.

Sherman, Doug, and William Hendricks. Your Work Matters to God. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1987.

Sherman, Doug, and William Hendricks. Your Work Matters to God Study Guide. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Employment: Be Extraordinary among the Ordinary (1–15). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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