The 40-hour week (paid hours including overtime) remains the average for males in full-time work in Australia and New Zealand.

For females in full time work the average is around 37 – 38 hours while the average for part-time workers in 20 hours a week. These survey numbers only covered paid hours and we know many people on salaries work more than the hours they are nominally paid for. We also have an increasing proportion of the working population now working for themselves (self-employed) and often working much longer hours than these.

Over our working life time these can add up to a substantial number of hours we spend at work. But for how many people does the job come some degree of dissatisfaction. Perhaps no statistic demonstrates dissatisfaction more than job-hopping tendencies and the growing extent to which people are changing careers as they change jobs, hoping to find something that they find more fulfilling.

To find satisfaction in our work and to be placed in a position where God can prosper our work, we first need to understand what Scripture teaches about work in general, as well as the responsibilities of both employer and employee.

General Biblical Principles

From the beginning, God instituted work.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).

The very first thing the Lord did with Adam was to put him to work for his own benefit. It was not a curse. However, after the fall of Adam, work was included in the curse and was made more difficult. Work is so important to our daily lives that God commanded us to, “work six days” (Exodus 34:21).

In the New Testament, Paul was even more direct concerning work: “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). God’s Word implies that there is dignity in all types of work. It does not elevate one honest profession above another. Jobs are not merely tasks whereby workers can earn money; they are also a means by which workers can use their talents and abilities to develop character—godly character.

  • God gives talents and skills
    “Every skilful person in whom the Lord has put a skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work” (Exodus 36:1). God has given each worker unique skills and abilities. It is not a matter of one person being better than another; it is simply a matter of having received different abilities.
  • God gives success.
    “The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man” (Genesis 39:2). Although we all have different talents and responsibilities.
  • God controls promotion.
    “God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:7). Your boss is not the one who controls whether you will be promoted. God controls promotions based not only on workers’ abilities but also on workers’ faithfulness to the tasks and responsibilities given to them and whether they were good stewards of the responsibilities God had given them.
  • “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:23).
    One of the major reasons people experience stress and frustration in their jobs is because they do not understand God’s part in work.
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    Godly employers usually need to perform a balancing act. Employers are to love, serve, and encourage their employees, but they also are responsible to lead their employees and hold them accountable for the completion of their assigned tasks. According to God’s Word, employers have five primary responsibilities.
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    Serve employees.
    The basis for biblical leadership is servanthood. “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Employers need to balance efforts to make a profit with an unselfish concern for their employees and treat their employees fairly and with dignity.
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    “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). When employer and employees are committed to accomplishing a particular task and there is good communication between them, nothing—within the will of God—will be impossible. Communication is a two-way street. Employers not only need to speak to their employees, they also need to listen to their employees with sensitive and understanding ears.
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    Hold employees accountable.
    Employers are responsible for the employees knowing what’s expected on the job. Employers need to regularly evaluate employees’ performance and communicate this to employees.
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    Pay a fair wage.
    “[The Lord will judge] those who oppress the wage earner in his wages” (Malachi 3:5). “You shall not oppress a hired servant….You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). Employers must pay fair wages promptly when they are due.
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    Pray to have godly employees.
    This is not a command; it is a principle. However, employers would be wise to pray that God would send them employees of like faith and belief. Although employers are forbidden to discriminate, based on religious belief, employees with like faith eliminate a lot of potential problems that might arise.
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    Eye contact, a firm handshake, and good posture are essential.
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    Dress nicely, professionally and modestly. You should avoid distracting jewellery, hairdos, or strong perfume/cologne.
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    Be aware of your body language! Sit up straight, lean slightly forward and keep your shoulders and hands relaxed. Don't cross your arms or legs or slouch.
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    Use mild hand gestures when you speak and remember to slow down if you're nervous.
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    Come alert and prepared.
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    Arrive 10-15 min early with extra copies of your CV.
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    Research the organisation and sector it is in (and the interviewer if possible). This will help you demonstrate interest with informed answers and pertinent questions.
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    Before your interview, practice explaining what attracts you to the organisation, how the position fits your career desires, and how the work of organisation’s leaders inspires you. Where do you see yourself in 2-10 years? You should be able to articulate your strengths and weaknesses without hesitation. Remember to take notes.
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    Be humble and have a good attitude. Appearing arrogant or too eager says you may be hard to manage, so listen well and do not interrupt.
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    Show appreciation to the interviewer. If the job they're interviewing you for doesn't work out, he or she could still be the link to another organisation and you may cross paths in the future.
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    Write and post a thank-you note within 24 hours (use professional, simple stationary). If you can't post one, at least email one.

“The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man” (Genesis 39:2)

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Peter Crawford

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