Work: My ministry in the marketplace


Rick Warren


For a believer, work is never just a job. We have talked about how work can actually be an act of worship by demonstrating the talents and gifts and abilities that God has given us. By being what He made me to be. (Whether paid or unpaid work – housewife or CEO of a large Company)

We have talked about how work can be a witness.  That you have a mission in the marketplace. God call us to be a witnesses, to be the salt and light in the world.



Sometimes perception that only those in “full-time” ministry can really serve the Lord properly.  Missionaries, Pastors and Youth worker!!.


LOOK at this …Colossians 3:23-24 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV)


Now how do you do that? How do you serve God in your work?


Jesus said [Matthew 25]  “Anything you’ve done for one of my brothers here, however humble, you’ve done for who? for me.”  “Anything you do for another person, you do for me!”


We serve God by serving others.  How can you use your job as a ministry.




  1. It makes life more meaningful.


Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

Good works for whose benefit?   … “…long ago God planned that we should spend our lives in helping others.”  God created you for ministry. God made you to serve.

Titus 3:14 14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (NIV)

Titus 3:14  “Have your people learn to give their time in doing good, to provide for real needs … not live useless lives.” 

You can waste your life, you can spend your life or you can invest your life.

God wants you to invest your life by serving others, and then your life is not useless.

Mark 8:35 (Living Bible), “Only those who give their lives away for My sake and the gospel will ever know what it means to truly live.”  … you lose your life to find it.  You give your life away. You don’t think less of yourself, you just think more of others!


  1. It makes me like Christ.

Philippians 2:4-5 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (NIV)


And what is the attitude He had? Matthew 20:28 28 .. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, …

 This is the opposite of what our culture generally says.  Our culture says, “Think of yourself first.  Look out for number one.”

Is it natural to think about others instead of yourself?  No, it’s not.  Our desire is to be served, not to serve.  One of the proofs that we are Christians, is we have a desire to serve other people.  That’s the way Jesus is.  And if we’re going to be like Christ, we’ve got to learn to serve.

It may be okay for an unbeliever to say, “Hey, who’s going to meet my needs? I want my right!!!

”  But the key question for a believer is, “Who’s needs can I meet?”

{Good Samaritan} – Who was neighbour to man who fell among theives??

Have we as Christians lost this by over-emphasising the spiritual??!!

Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served, but I came to serve”  Maybe I shouldn’t call myself a Christian unless I’m willing to serve.


In a world that is by-and-large self seving what impact could Christians make by serving others in geniune acts of kindness!


  1. I will be rewarded in eternity.

Matthew 25:21, Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You’ve been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your Master’s happiness!” 


That’s what God wants to say to you when you get to Heaven.  But He can only say that to you if you have been faithful in service here on Earth.

Notice there are three rewards.

1st – “Well done.”   Can you imagine anything more exciting that to get to Heaven and have God come up to you and say, “Well done! You did a good job with your life. You used your work as an act of worship, you used it as a witness, you used it as a ministry.  Well done!!”


2nd You’ll get a promotion–“I will put you in charge of many things!  You’ve been faithful in little, you’ll be faithful in much.”

God is watching us, testing our faithfulness.  We’re going to spend far more time on that side of eternity than the 60, 70, 80 we spend on this side.  And God’s watching us to see how we handle this test.

Are we faithful in serving God and serving others here?  As a plumber, shop-assistant, secretary, mother, student, neighbour, postman, nurse, cleaner, …


So there’s promotion, there’s affirmation and then He says there’s celebration.

3rd – “Come share your Master’s happiness!”

Jesus says, “Let’s party!  Let’s have a good time, you’ve done a good job.”

[There I also place to celebrate and party down here!!]

When you get to Heaven, Jesus will probably come up to you and say, “You know, when I was down there on Earth, I did not go to Earth to be served, but I went to serve others.  By the way, what was your purpose while you were down there?”

When you get to Heaven, God is not going to look at your status, He’s going to look at your service.  What did you do?  What are you going to do with your life?  What are you giving your life for?  Does it matter?  Does it count?


Jesus said, Mark 10:43 43 .., whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

John 12:26.  Jesus says, “My Father will honour the one who serves me.”


Four practical ways to serve God by serving others.

Every Christian is a minister–not a pastor, but a minister.  That means, God has called you to serve with all you life in your world – in the place that you work, in your community, in your school, in your home.




  1. Accept others unconditionally.

You minister to people when you accept people. Everybody needs acceptance. Why?  Because nobody’s perfect!   We all have faults, foibles, weaknesses, hang-ups.  We blow-it, we sin, we make mistakes, we stumble.  Nobody’s perfect!  Not even pastors! [esp. not pastors!!]


If you expect perfection from people, you’re just going to be frustrated and disappointed. We can’t really help people until we accept them.

NB – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Romans 15:7.


Don’t confuse acceptance with approval.  They are two different things.  You can accept people without approving of their lifestyle.  You can love people without agreeing with sinful behaviour that they are involved in.  Jesus did it all the time.  He loved people, accepted them, without approving of things that they were doing wrong.  In fact, Jesus was called the “Friend of Sinners” because He always hung out with riffraff.  It says He hung out with the low-life, with prostitutes, and drunks and tax collectors [political collaborators!!]  He criticised the self-righteous religious types the most!!


Jesus accepted people without approving of things they had done wrong.  He was with the victims.  The outcasts, the lepers, the people that others didn’t want to get near.  Why?  Because He accepted people.  Now how do you do that?


“How in the world can I accept the people at my work?”  [not just at work – home, church ..]


A helpful key: “Look past the behaviour and see the hurt”.

Try to look past the obnoxious behaviour and see their hurt, because hurt people, hurt people.  People who are hurting on the inside act in hurtful ways to others.  And you have to look past the behaviour and see their hurt and then you can accept them.  {When we are hurt our natural response is to want to hurt back.}


Usually the people at your work who deserve it the least, the most obnoxious ones, those who deserve it the least are those who need it the most.  They need massive doses of love.

ILLUS.: Have you ever figured out why, you know, the people who always get on T.V. cameras in the street scenes are always obnoxious extremists?  They get the publicity.  Why?  Because, everybody knows inside, whether they know it consciously, that if you can’t get acceptance, you’ll get attention.  That’s true of children.  If children can’t get the acceptance of their parents then they say, “I’ll get their attention.”  And there are many negative ways for them to get your attention.

When I accept people, I minister to them.  Accept them unconditionally.


  1. Encourage others continually.

You minister to people when you encourage them.

NB – 1 Thessalonians 5:11., “Encourage one another and build each other up…”

Now, when you go back to work tomorrow, let me tell you three facts about all the people you’re going to work with. I’m not a prophet, but I can tell you 3 facts about the people you work with.  They are:

–        Everybody is having a tough time in some way or other.

–        Everybody has a hidden hurt.

–        Everybody could use a lift.


Christians, of all people should have a reputation for being the encouragers at the office, at work.


NB – Ephesians 4:29“…speak only what is helpful for building others up accordingly to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”.

I.e. say things that build people up, not tear them down.  Things that help them, that are for their benefit according to their needs.  Appreciation.


ILLUS.:I heard the other day, a little boy in a restaurant–the waitress was being really nice to him and expressed some appreciation to him; he looked at his mom and said, “Wow!  She thinks I’m real!”

ILLUS.: Ad executive – greeted everyone – — new company – receptionist said “ I have been looking forward to meeting you – you are the boss who greets secretaries and receptionists!!!”


When we treat people in a real way when we encourage them.  AND what is interesting is that often people tend to become the way you think of them. Usually we are helped to grow more grow by  being lifted up, not by being put down.


  1. You forgive others freely.

When people hurt you, and they will, and you respond with forgiveness, you minister to people.

Actually, there are two ways you can minister through forgiveness.

You can minister by offering forgiveness at work and you can minister by asking forgiveness when you blow it.


ILLUS.: Read a story about a lady who was the CEO of a large company and one day she blasted her whole staff; she was very uptight and cantankerous and she just let them have it.  She went into her office and about 5 minutes later she walked back out and called the staff back together and she said, “I’m sorry, I blew it.  I shouldn’t have said those things and I was wrong, and I need to ask the entire staff to forgive me.”  After it was over a lady came up to her and said, “Your Christianity is real.  I want you to tell me about it.”

When you blow it, you ask for forgiveness.  That’s what Jesus would say.

He’d teach you to be forgiving, to offer it [to forgive a wrong and not hold a grudge] and to ask when you have blown it and hurt someone!!.

What if you ask forgiveness and the person won’t forgive? Not much you can do – some people tend to thrive on being victims – All we can do is to keep on reaching out.


Colossians 3:13.  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

“bear with others” — what does that mean?  à be patient with them, bear with them.  Patience is putting up with people you’d rather put down.


What’s our motive for being forgiving?  à, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Why should I be forgiving?  Because I’ve been forgiven.  I’ll never have to forgive anybody else more than God has already forgiven me.


  1. Helping others willingly.

Proverbs 3:27-28           27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,

when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbour, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow” — when you now have it with you. (NIV)

“Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.  Never tell your neighbour to wait until tomorrow if you can help him now.” 


When you offer any kind of practical assistance to people at work that you are ministering to them and that you are serving God by serving others?  You have a servant’s heart?  Jesus said, “Even a cup of cold water given in my name counts.” 


There’s a song we used to sing [I haven’t be able to find it] – “We’re his hands, we’re his feet, we’re his ears we’re his eyes…..  You represent Jesus Christ at work.  And it’s not only an act of worship and an act of witness, but it’s a ministry when you help other people.


Look at: 1 Corinthians 15:58 … Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

[GN], “Nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.”

It all counts!  Offering practical assistance, helping them with a project, teaching them a new software program, helping them decorate a house, or helping them in the garden, just listening!.  It all counts.

The problem is we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we become insensitive to when other people need our help.


ILLUS.: A number of years ago the Salvation Army held their international conference and General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was going to come and present a vision for the next 50 years. Well, he got sick and he couldn’t come.  So he sent telegram of the message that he wanted to deliver to all these delegates.  When they arrived, the conference was packed out, they received the telegram and a man walked to the podium to read this message that was to lay out the vision of the Salvation Army for the next 50 years.  When he opened the telegram it only had one word on it. “Others.”


What word dominates your life?  Me, myself and I?  Or others.  You can’t be like Jesus Christ unless you think of others.  “I didn’t come to be served, I came to serve.”

Your rewards in Heaven are going to be based on that.  Did you know that in Matthew 25 it says, “We will stand before Christ one day and Jesus will say, I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was without clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and I was in prison and you visited me.”

And we’ll say, “Lord, when did we ever do that?  And Jesus Christ will say, “When you’ve done it to the least of my brothers, you’ve done it to me.”  Now listen, Matthew 25 says that the one thing that you will be judged for at that judgement is how you treated other people.  Not how many Bible verses you memorised, not how many times you went to church, but how you treated other people.


There are people all around you at work who are hurting emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially.  You do not have all the answers but you have Jesus!  And you can be a minister to them by accepting them, encouraging them, forgiving them and helping them.  And earning the right to share the Good News by your actions.


David is one of my favourite characters in the Bible – he is so real and down-to-earth while at the same time is a godly man. Acts 13:36 says, “David served God’s purpose in his generation, then he died.”

What a great epitaph to have on your tombstone, you served God’s purpose in your generation.

There is nothing more meaningful in life than serving Christ by serving others.  There is nothing more Christ-like than serving Christ by serving others.

There is nothing more rewarding than serving Christ by serving others.  I think


God wants you to go back to work tomorrow with a new job description and a new title. Just say to yourself, “I am a minister of Jesus Christ in the workplace today.”  And ask yourself, “Who can I minister to, who needs my acceptance, who needs my forgiveness, who needs my encouragement, who needs my help?”  We are His hands.


(Prayer) “Lord, thank you for your word, help us to be like you, in Jesus Name, Amen.”







  1. It makes life more meaningful.


      2.   It makes me ­like Christ.


      3.   I will be rewarded in eternity.





      1.   Accept others unconditionally.


      2.   Encourage others continually.


      3.   Forgive others freely.


      4.   ­Help others willingly.


Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord …. He’s the one you are really working for.  Colossians 3:23-24 (LB)


Jesus said “Anything you’ve done for one of my brothers here, however humble, you’ve done for me.”Matthew 25:40 (NEB)


Have our people learn to give their time in doing good, to provide for real needs … not live useless lives.  Titus 3:14 (GN)


Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.  Mark 3:14 (GN)


Look out for each other’s interests, not just for your own.  The attitude you should have is the one that Jesus Christ had.   Philippians 2:4-5 (GN)


Jesus said “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve …”  [Matt 20:28]  “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You’ve been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come share your Master’s happiness!”  Matt.. 25:21


Accept one another, .., just as Christ accepted you, Romans 15:7


Encourage one another … build each other up…1 Thess 5:11


Bear with each other and forgive … one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  Colossians 3:13


Whenever you possibly can do good to those who need it.  Never tell your neighbour to wait until tomorrow if you can help him now.   Proverbs 3:27-28 (GN)


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