I started so strong. Working from home? Easy! To be fair, it took a lot of intentional adjustments in the first week, but I was excited to continue working – I love having things to do and there were many things to do. But as the weeks go on, I’m finding it harder to stay motivated.
Around me I hear many saying the same. Including those who are not currently able to work – in the beginning there were all these fun projects to work on but finding a reason to get out of bed seems harder and harder. So I figured I’d turn to the Bible for wisdom.
Ephesians 6:5-8 is a good guideline in thinking about working from home. Have a read:
"5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free."
Let’s start by clarifying that our situation is different from first century slaves (NIV) or bondservants (ESV). But the principles definitely apply! Our employers are our “earthly masters”, and they therefore deserve our respectful obedience.
In this text, the rubber really hits the road when the master’s eye is not on the slave - “Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you”. That’s exactly what working from home is like! Our employer has no way of knowing whether we spent the morning finishing a deadline or watching YouTube compilations. And as the weeks go on, YouTube compilations seem increasingly attractive.
But in that unsupervised situation, Paul teaches to obey “as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart”. You are not ultimately working to satisfy your employer. You are working for Christ. That is why we stay motivated. And that is why we try to get out of bed in the morning even if there’s no work waiting for us. A few weeks ago, Jane helpfully reminded those of us who have been furloughed that “paid work is only one part of God’s calling on our life.” Working for Christ doesn’t stop when work stops. Even in the very ordinary things of life, whether that’s reading a book, building relationships, or trying to improve your baking skills, your master is Christ. Your master is the one who gave his life to save you from death.
And that leads to a sincere motivation. Paul talks about serving “with sincerity of heart”, “doing the will of God from your heart”, “serve wholeheartedly”. I always thought it said that we should work hard even when no one is watching because God is always watching. But it actually says to always work hard because that is to be our heart attitude. Even if God couldn’t see everything, our heart’s desire should be to work hard to do His will - because he saved us and he is awesome.
Paul says that “the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do.” Working hard from home isn’t ultimately about our pay check. It’s about God and his rewards (cf. Matt 25:23). Not in order to earn our salvation, which is already secure in Jesus. But because we are the Lord’s servants. That’s what I preach to myself as I resist the urge to open Facebook for the 100th time that morning. That’s why if we have no work, we do the things we can still do and we do them well. That’s how we honour God as we work from home. We work hard because we are working for the Lord.
It’s a weird and challenging time. But our master is good and faithful. He hasn’t changed! So let’s be distinct as Christians as we continue to work from home! And let’s encourage and help each other as we try to do that, especially when we are not sure what work looks like for us right now.