Do Your Job As Jesus Would Do It

Dallas Willard

From: The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (Harper SF, 1997). Used by Permission. All rights reserved.

Consider your job, the work you do to make a living. This is one of the clearest ways possible of focusing upon apprenticeship to Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus is, crucially, to be learning from Jesus how to do your job as Jesus himself would do it. New Testament language for this is to do it “in the name” of Jesus.

Once you stop to think about it, you can see that not to find your job to be a primary place of discipleship is to automatically exclude a major part, if not most, of your waking hours from life with him. It is to assume to run one of the largest areas of your interest and concern on your own or under the direction and instruction of people other than Jesus. But this is right where most professing Christians are left today, with the prevailing view that discipleship is a special calling having to do chiefly with religious activities and “full-time Christian service.”

But how, exactly, is one to make one’s job a primary place of apprenticeship to Jesus? Not, we quickly say, by becoming the Christian nag-in-residence, the rigorous upholder of all propriety, and the dead-eye critic of everyone else’s behavior.

A gentle but firm non-cooperation with things that everyone knows to be wrong, together with a sensitive, non-officious, non-intrusive, non-obsequious service to others, should be our usual overt manner. This should be combined with inward attitudes of constant prayer for whatever kind of activity our workplace requires and genuine love for everyone involved.

As circumstances call for them, special points in Jesus’ teachings and example, such as non-retaliation, refusal to press for financial advantage, consciousness of and appropriate assistance to those under special handicaps, and so on would come into play. And we should be watchful and prepared to meet any obvious spiritual need or interest in understanding Jesus with words that are truly loving thoughtful, and helpful.

But the specific work to be done–whether it is making ax handles or tacos, selling automobiles or teaching kindergarten, investment banking or political office, evangelizing or running a Christian education program, performing in the arts or teaching English as a second language–is of central interest to God. He wants it well done. It is work that should be done, and it should be done as Jesus himself would do it.

Nothing can substitute for that. In my opinion, at least, as long as one is on the job, all peculiarly religious activities should take second place to doing “the job” in sweat, intelligence, and the power of God. That is our devotion to God.

From: The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (Harper SF, 1997). Used by Permission. All rights reserved.

Dallas Willard is a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has taught at USC since 1965, where he was Director of the School of Philosophy from 1982-1985. He lectures and publishes extensively in the area of spiritual formation and living christianly. His book The Divine Conspiracy, from which this article comes, was selected as Christianity Today’s “Book of the Year” for 1999.