How to Adopt a Biblical Work Ethic

June 9, 2022

Reading Time: 8 minutes
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Did you know that having a biblical work ethic can help you increase your income, build wealth, and even improve your ability to give to the kingdom of God?

The kind of work I’m talking about is work that produces an income. However, we all know many other forms of work that are just as valid and meaningful and don’t produce an income. 

My wife, for example, is a stay-at-home mother and a homeschooler. She works ridiculously hard every day at one of the toughest jobs on the planet. We also have friends who are pastors and missionaries that don’t bring in a lot of income, but they’re working hard for the kingdom of God and doing an immense amount of good.

But in this video, I’m going to be focusing on work out there in the marketplace that produces an income, and how adopting a biblical work ethic could help you financially and allow you to give more to the kingdom of God. 

I also want to mention that this is a part of our Biblical Stewardship Series. If you like this content, I encourage you to watch all the videos in the series. So grab a cup of coffee, crack open your bible and let’s talk about work.

The problem with lacking a biblical work ethic

What’s the problem with not having a biblical work ethic? There are a few: 

  • It could lead you to miss out on opportunities to serve your fellow humans with your God-given gifts and abilities. 
  • It could also keep your income from increasing.
  • It could even limit your financial impact on advancing the Kingdom of God.

When I read Matthew 25 and see that Jesus commands us to care for the hungry and the thirsty, the widows and the orphans, I can’t help but want to work hard to increase my financial resources to help accomplish his work on the earth. The more I earn the more I can give, and if you’re interested in adopting a biblical work ethic, you likely have this same heart as well. 

What the bible says about work ethic

So where should we begin in understanding what the bible says about work ethic? Well, let’s start at the beginning. Where did work come from anyways? 

If we go back to the book of Genesis, we see that God created work for Adam and Eve to take care of the garden and to watch over the animals. This was God given, and it was good. 

Then we see that after the fall, God commanded Adam and Eve to continue working the land, but it was going to be difficult for them to create and produce out of the land. However, it was still something God created them to do, and he wanted them to continue working.

In fact, throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, we see that God uses people of all walks of life in different careers, jobs, skills, and abilities to accomplish his purposes on earth.

We even see that the 12 disciples were made up of tax collectors, fishermen, treasurers, and accountants. Most of his followers had various careers. The disciple Luke for example was a practicing physician, and Paul was a tentmaker.

We also know that Jesus was a carpenter for much of his life. He most likely worked in the family business building furniture and repairing houses until He began his ministry at age 30.

The point is that work is ingrained in our history and our societies ever since the beginning of creation until now.

If you don’t view your work as God given and something you were designed to do, but instead view work as the world does, you have a big problem. The world views work as something to simply get through until the weekend, and eventually to retirement. This worldly view of work looks like waiting for the weekend or dreading Mondays instead of viewing work as part of your purpose. 

However, the bible portrays work as something that’s part of our lives and directly related to our ability to provide for our families. Here’s what the bible says about work ethic from the book of Proverbs:

  • “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense” (Proverbs 12:11).
  • “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth” (Proverbs 12:27).
  • “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slothful will be put to forced labor” Proverbs 12:24).
  • “The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin” (Proverbs 10:16).

And 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “Whoever does not provide for his own family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

The Bible makes it clear that work is something we should be doing, and it’s useful for providing for our families. 

But again, if you don’t view work through a biblical lens, you may be missing out on what God truly designed you for, which is to serve and bless others and to create an income that can provide for your family and help advance the kingdom of God on earth. 

According to Colossians 3:23, “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.” 

How can we have a God-centric biblical work ethic?

So how can we change our perspective? And how can we begin to have a God-centric biblical work ethic? I’m going to share four tips for adopting a biblical work ethic across a variety of occupations — from hourly to salaried to business ownership. 

Biblical work ethic tip #1: pray

My first tip for you is to pray, and you can do this right now: Pray that God will show you what skills and abilities He has given you. Pray that He will show you what opportunities He has given you to be able to serve and bless your fellow human beings. 

It could be in your current role, but it might be in something completely new. Prepare for God to surprise you.  

I remember hearing a testimony of a pastor who was approached by a young woman late at night when he was walking to his hotel room while traveling. She was offering her “services” to him.

He saw that she was young, and his heart broke for her. He obviously declined her offer but asked if he could pray with her. He said, “Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal what God designed you to do because I know this is not it.”

He had her pray and asked if she heard God saying anything. She became excited and said,  “I’m supposed to be a chef!”

He then asked if she had any experience as a chef, and she said no, but her uncle owned a restaurant where she grew up. She said she would call him to ask if he would hire her. 

She later followed up with the pastor and told him that she got a job working for her uncle and helping to grow the business. She was no longer working on the streets.

I know you’re probably not in that same situation, but God has given you unique skills and opportunities you may not be walking in at the moment. But I believe He will reveal it to you if you ask. 

Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something that’s not within your skills and abilities or is not honoring to God. Seek God and strive to use your unique talents to serve other people to the fullest extent.

Biblical work ethic tip #2: hourly work

If you work in an hourly position, focus on working as many hours as you can (while maintaining a healthy work/life balance). If you can take on extra hours or overtime, you can dramatically increase your income without having to switch jobs or add a second job. 

Proverbs talks over and over about not being slothful or a sluggard, and that working hard is a biblical virtue. Having a biblical work ethic could mean increasing your working hours whereever possible.

In San Francisco, a janitor even made $270k in a year by working twice as many hours as a typical janitor. He cleaned twice as much, served twice as many people, and made way more than twice as much of the national average annual janitorial income.

I also want to point out that you should still strive to keep a healthy balance between your work and other aspects of your life. You don’t want to burn out and lose focus on your family or other relationships. Even though work is God given and a good part of our lives, it’s not the only thing God wants us to focus on.

At the same time, we often want to have our cake and eat it too. By that, I mean that we want to work fewer hours but still increase our income and benefits. That’s not realistic when it comes to jobs where you’re paid an hourly wage. If we veer too far to this side of the spectrum and have too much free time, we can fall into idleness. 

Listen to the harsh criticism that Paul gave to the idle people living in Thessalonica:  

Now we command you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us … because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have the right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12).

So there’s a balance between avoiding idleness and not working so much that we burn out and don’t have the energy to give to our relationships.

Biblical work ethic tip #3: salaried work

If you work in a salaried position, focus on moving up the ladder by increasing your knowledge or skills. Check out what Proverbs 22:29 has to say about being skilled in your work: “Do you see a man skilled in his work … he will stand before kings.”

It also says, “In all you do whether eating or drinking or in anything do all for the Glory of God.” So God intends us to work hard to improve our skills in our given fields as if we’re doing it for God.

Also, in Exodus, God assigned skilled craftsmen to build the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle. He commissioned skilled seamstresses to sow the tent of meeting and the priestly garments. Reading through the Old Testament, you’ll see that God used skilled men and women to accomplish his purposes on earth.

God’s chosen people (the Jewish people) have had this biblical view about money for thousands of years. The bible shows you can increase your income by increasing your skills and abilities. You’ll get rewarded in the marketplace with more income when you serve more and more people. If you’re interested in exploring this idea more, I recommend checking out the book Thou Shall Prosper by Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin where he discusses this in more detail.

As an example of making more money by becoming more skilled, check out this article from Forbes that explores people paying more money for latte art. 

In almost every field of work, there are ways to serve more people or increase your skills and abilities to earn a higher income. And I’m not talking about some kind of prosperity gospel. I believe the bible has so much wisdom regarding how we make an income, spend, save, and invest. 

But ultimately what matters as Christians is storing up treasure in heaven. And our mission at Inspire Advisors is to help Christians store up treasures in heaven so that someday you will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

We do that by helping you steward your God-given resources in a way that follows biblical principles, maximizes your giving, and blesses you and your family in the process through biblically responsible investing.

Biblical work ethic tip #4: owning your own business

If you own your own business or if you want to own your own business, focus on how to serve and bless more people, and your income (and giving potential) will grow. As an example, let’s look at Hobby Lobby: The Green family started Hobby Lobby with a $600 loan, and it has now grown into the largest private retailer of arts and crafts in the country.

Their focus was on how to serve and bless more and more people. Every time they opened a new store, they were able to serve and bless more people in a new location. So if you own a business, think about how you can bless more customers, and your income and giving will grow.

The point is that if you focus on having a biblical work ethic, you’ll be able to use your unique God-given skills to serve and bless more people. In turn, you’ll increase your income to bless yourself and your family, and to give back for the glory of God.

If you enjoyed this content, check out our other video in our biblical stewardship series about how to build wealth from a Christian perspective. 

Jacob Chandler
Jacob Chandler

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