Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people ~ Col 3:23
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he includes advice on the everyday relationships of Christian living. One could assume that the above admonition was directed at church leaders or someone who had important position. However, Paul is telling slaves to work cheerfully as though they were working for the Lord. At that time, slaves were not considered people, but rather things, similar to livestock.
Paul is encouraging them to work hard and cheerfully-instruction that would not be the natural inclination for a slave. Christianity was to change the way a slave approached his work. Christianity would provide the slave the physical and spiritual strength needed to approach difficult situations.
We who work in health care are not facing the same challenges that slaves had, but I think Paul’s instructions are for us, too. I was recently at the Association of American Medical Colleges meeting in San Francisco and went to a lecture by Rachel Naomi Remen. She stated that meaning has the power to change the experience of work, but it does not change the work.
She went on to say that work can be experienced as a job, a career, or a calling. As Christian physician, I believe we have not just jobs, but a calling to participate in the healing ministry of Jesus. When we experience our work as a calling, we are able to tolerate problems. Christianity provides us with the strength to perform duties. We need to remember that we are working for the Lord, and that we are the hands of Jesus when we treat patients. It is certainly much easier for me to face the frustrations that arise when I remember that Jesus is my true employer; that is true for all occupations.
Paul does not stop without offering the slave hope for the future. He states, “The Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward” (Colossians 3:24, NLT). I know we look forward to the Second Coming when we will spend eternity with Jesus and will not be dealing with disease and death. We can experience rewards in our work now, when we remember that what we are doing is for Christ, and that He is blessing us as we minister to others.
May we always remember for Whom we are working, and may we always pray that we will fulfill the mission to which we have been called-Sarah Roddy, Associate Dean (Admissions & Recruitment), Associate Professor (Pediatrics) LLUSM