By Jim Eichenberger
A classic TV gameshow in the 1950s and 1960s began as a guest came on stage and was introduced to a celebrity panel. The panel then asked questions of the guest to help them determine the guest’s line of work. The show was called, What’s My Line?
As Christians in the work world today we must answer the same query concerning ourselves. We have been taught that we are representatives of Jesus wherever we go; and that certainly includes our jobs. But how is that done? What is our true vocation? What’s My Line?
A believer in the workplace is called to a ministry of encouragement. The word encourage literally means to give others a heart transplant! We “hearten” others as Jesus followers by revealing God’s heart from day to day. A quick survey of the New Testament reveals that having a workplace ministry of encouragement involves several surprising lines of work.
A beautician? A makeup artist? It sounds a bit ridiculous. It also sounds nearly blasphemous to suggest that the teachings of the church need to be “prettied up.” But that is exactly our line! By being trustworthy on the job, we demonstrate that God can also be trusted. In the words of Paul, we “will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10).
Providing food is a noble line of work. Some of us may go into the restaurant business, but all of us are called to service ourselves and our families with food. We do that by being industrious.
We eat regularly and do so gladly. Not eating has ill effects. Likewise, being lazy workers has the ill effect of turning people who should stay busy into disruptive busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3:11). On the other hand, when we “settle down and earn the food [we] eat” (v. 12) we demonstrate that we take worktime as serious as mealtime and encourage others to do the same!
Despite the technical name, this is simply asking the age-old question, “Where is the money going to come from?” A forensic accountant is concerned that money does not come from illegitimate sources. As believers that should be our concern as well.
Soldiers asked John the Baptist how they should obey God in their line of work. John answered, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14). In every workplace, there is a temptation to try to obtain money at the expense of others, including coworkers. When we do not complain about our income or try to increase it by cheating customers or stepping on colleagues in our climb up the corporate ladder, we give coworkers a look at God’s heart.
We may attend churches where it is taught that people matter to God. But do we show that view of human resources to others at work? Do you treat each coworker regardless of position equally, “since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven” (Ephesians 6:9)?
The Bible teaches that we work directly for the big boss! We are “working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). Plus, we get to encourage others with the news that we all can have a great profit-sharing plan, an inheritance from the owner (v. 24).
The classic game show featured some interesting, exotic, and unusual occupations. But none of them come close to our vocation when we take on the role of workplace encouragers. Think about that the next time you are asked, “So what’s your line?”
Jim Eichenberger is a freelance writer and Christian education consultant in Hamilton, Ohio.