Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23)
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, he replied, “Love the Lord your God…and…Love your neighbor as yourself.” As we saw last week, excellent work is one way in which we fulfill Jesus’s command to love God by revealing his character of excellence to those around us. As we’ll see today, excellence is also necessary for keeping the second commandment in our work.
As Christians, we can’t say we are seeking to love our neighbor as ourselves and then do our work with mediocrity. Think of the extreme example of a Christian doctor. While that doctor may pray with her patients, share the gospel with her co-workers, and donate money to her church, her most basic form of ministry is in being an excellent doctor. If she were a mediocre medical professional, her patients’ lives might be at risk. The doctor’s first responsibility in her work ought to be the ministry of excellence—serving her patients as best she knows how, giving them the same level of care she would expect for herself and her family.
Now, for most of us, the relative skill of our work isn’t going to mean the difference between life and death. But we all have an opportunity to obey Jesus’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves by choosing to do excellent work and going far beyond the minimum standards required in our jobs. I love what Matt Perman says on this topic: “Slack work is like vandalism because it makes life harder for people—just like vandalism. Christians are to be the opposite of vandals and slackers in their work. We are to do work that will truly benefit people by going the extra mile rather than just doing the minimum necessary. Excellence in our work is actually a form of generosity and love, and poor quality is a form of stinginess and selfishness. Shoddy work is not just shoddy work; it’s a failure of love.”
As Christians, we shouldn’t seek to do the bare minimum in our jobs to collect a paycheck. If we believe our work is a calling from God, we will “work heartily, as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23),” seeking to glorify God and love others well by being the most focused and excellent doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, carpenters, and executives we can possibly be. Excellence in our work isn’t just a means to some personal gain. Excellence is our most fundamental form of ministry in our work. Let this truth encourage you to focus on pursuing mastery of your craft, becoming the most exceptional version of yourself for God’s glory and the good of others!