From “Leadership” class at Belhaven University, prison work, and counseling. It fits well with our six weeks of prison classes on “A Man and His Work” and Adult Sunday School class on “Christ and the Proverbs.”
Jesus says: The greatest among you will be your servant….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. (Matt 23:11; Heb 6:10)
Edward White Benson (1829-1896) was the Archbishop of Canterbury (Church of England) and author of the book Work, Friendship, Worship. He lived in a different era, but his “Rules” contain Scriptural wisdom for serving Jesus in the workplace, family, and ministry. I have adapted and expanded them and added Bible references and prayers. Various translations are used.
Benson echoes Christ’s teaching in Matthew 25:31-46. We prove that we love and serve Jesus by serving other people for His sake. When the Lord returns, He will say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40) Jesus is invisible to our eyes, so we serve Him by helping our neighbors and the Lord receives it as if done to Him personally. All Christians are Christ’s stewards. Our times, talents, and treasures are on loan from Jesus, entrusted to us for serving Him and helping others. Don’t be put off by Benson’s old-fashioned language, but consider how we are to serve the Lord now. I dislike legalism and perfectionism, but I welcome Benson’s Rules as wise advice.
Suggestion for putting these into practice: Consider working on implementing one or a few rules each day. Think about how to use them in your life. If you don’t care for Benson’s Rules, focus on the Bible verses and prayers. Pray for God the Spirit’s enabling to help you better follow Christ, our King of mercy and grace, in concrete, day-to-day ways.
Rule #1: Eagerly start the day’s main work. Do not procrastinate. Find God-given joy and satisfaction in doing the job at hand with enthusiasm, doing it out of love for the Lord and for those we serve.
Scripture: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom….A woman of noble character works with eager hands….She works energetically and throws herself into her work.”1
Prayer: Lord, help us do the most important things first each day. Help us to resist the tyranny of urgent things that are not essential in your sight. Time is like money; we can only spend it once. Help us not to waste this hour or this day. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rule #2: Do not express annoyance at your busyness and heavy responsibilities, but gladly make the best use of your time. Efficiency means getting a lot done in a short time, while effectiveness focuses on activities that matter most to Christ.
Scripture: “Be very careful, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”2
Prayer: Lord, show us the responsibilities that you have assigned to us, not just what others require. Show us things that matter most to you and help us do them well, glorifying and enjoying you. Show us time wasters we need to stop. Help us eliminate them and replace them with wiser actions.
Rule #3: Do not complain about things you don’t like at work. “Good complaining” is positive, constructive, and effective. Wisdom focuses on fixing problems, not just talking about them. Bad complaining is negative, destructive, and useless. It sours our soul and robs others of joy. Most griping is the bad kind and reflects poorly on our trust in God’s sovereign control over all events, large and small.
Scripture: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”3
Prayer: Lord, help us to complain to you, not to others. Incline us to ask for your help with everything, including our obstacles and problems. Help us to change what we can change and to change our attitude about things we can’t change. Help us to accept the events that you ordain each day and gladly submit and yield to you in little and big ways.
Rule #4: Do not exaggerate your duties by seeming to suffer under your workload. Treat all responsibilities as privileges entrusted to you for Christ’s sake.
Scriptures: “Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord….You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”4
Prayer: Lord, help us to be thankful for our work. Help us to trust you and serve you by serving others in all the ways you assign us right where we are. Help us bring honor to your name, not our own; to advance your kingdom, not our own little empire; and to obey your will revealed in Scripture, not what is right in our own eyes. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
To be continued. You can read Serving Christ in Our Work (Part 2)
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Ecc 9:10; Prov 31:13,17. 2 Eph 5:15-16. 3 Phil 2:14-15. 4 Rom 12:11; Gal 5:13. “Benson’s Rules” adapted from J. Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership, Chapter 16. 1980 and 2007 editions were used.