Improving your performance at work

Do a job that you enjoy

(Eccl 5:19 NIV)  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God.

God wants us to live a happy and abundant life (John 10:10). Considering that we spend so much of our waking hours at work, we cannot have a happy life unless we are happy at work. Therefore we can also conclude that God wants us to have a happy life at work.

It has always been God’s intention that we enjoy our work. Work should not be something we do to stay alive. It should be something that reflects our interest, passion and strengths.

Enjoyment at work is one of the first few things we have to consider when we want to improve our performance at work. I sincerely believe that if we don’t enjoy our work, we are not going to do well consistently.

Asking God to give us the ability to do our work well

(Exodus 35:30-33)  Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, {31} and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-- {32} to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, {33} to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.

It is natural to think that God provides us with such spiritual skills as preaching, healing, etc. Yet God filled Bezalel with His Spirit and enabled him to have skill in his work. We should not think that God can only empower us in our ministry but not in our secular job.

(James 1:5 NIV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Even the Psalmist sets us an example that we should ask God to bless our work.

(Psa 90:17 NIV)  May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands.

Know your product/service well

(John 6:35 NIV)  Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

(John 14:6 NIV)  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(John 4:13-14 NIV)  Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

(John 10:10 NIV)  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

How do we do our job well if we do not know our products or services well? Jesus knew exactly what He had to offer and He stated that clearly to His audience. That is why people flocked to Him.

God-directed confidence

It is difficult to accomplish much if we do not have confidence. But as a Christian, our confidence has to be directed at the right source. What better confidence to have than confidence in what Jesus can do through us.

(Phil 4:13 NIV)  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

(Heb 13:6 NIV)  So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Asking God to protect us from the hazards of our job

(Job 1:10-11 NIV)  "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. {11} But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

God is able to put a hedge of protection around our work and bless us if we ask Him. Different jobs carry with them different job hazards. We need to ask God for His protection.

(Psa 91:1-2 NIV)  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. {2} I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

We must not forget that it is the person who dwells in the presence of God, who will abide in His shadow and receive His protection. When we move far away from God, we are not abiding in the shadow of His protection.

Asking God for the promotion

(Psa 75:6-7 KJV)  For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. {7} But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Let’s not try to get the promotion at all cost. Remember that the best way to get promotion is to stay close to God and ask Him for that promotion.

Giving generously to God and others

God promises to bless the work of the one who is generous.

Deut 15:10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

This is in line with the biblical principle that whatever we give to measure will be the same measure that God will give to us.

(Luke 6:38 NIV)  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Is there someone you can bless in a tangible way through your giving?

Giving with a generous spirit also means that we give back to God what belongs to him.

Leviticus 27:30 (NIV) "'A tithe (i.e. tenth) of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

Malachi 3:10 (NIV) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

On the other hand, if we do not tithe, we come under God's judgment.

Malachi 3:89 (NIV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse the whole nation of you because you are robbing me.

More on “Tithing

Go for teamwork

(1 Cor 12:21-23 NIV)  The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" {22} On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, {23} and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,

It is true the verses above talk about the body of Christ and not the organization. But we can learn as well from the analogy of the body and apply it to our workplace. Our organization is also like a body with many functions – marketing, production, accounting, etc. No matter how good the marketing department is, it cannot replace the manufacturing department.

If we understand that everyone has a crucial role to play, we will treat others in the organization better. We will learn to cooperate and treat our colleagues with greater respect. We will also learn to strive for teamwork.

(Eccl 4:9-10 NIV)  Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: {10} If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Recognizing that we can accomplish more as a team, we should exploit the power of delegation. Moses learnt this from his father-in-law.

Exod 18: 13  The next day, Moses sat as usual to hear the people’s complaints against each other. They were lined up in front of him from morning till evening. 14When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "Why are you trying to do all this alone? The people have been standing here all day to get your help." 15Moses replied, "Well, the people come to me to seek God’s guidance. 16  When an argument arises, I am the one who settles the case. I inform the people of God’s decisions and teach them his laws and instructions." 17"This is not good!" his father-in-law exclaimed. 18"You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided. 20You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives. 21But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace."

Even though Moses was the leader of Israel, he was humble enough to hear the advice of his father-in-law. And that brought him great efficiency in his ministry.

Moses was tired out attending to every need of his people. Jethro adviced that he could have done better if he knew how to delegate. Many leaders today have the same problem. They are afraid to delegate because they believe that things would go wrong if they do. So they end up doing everything.

Moses learned that this is not sustainable. Leaders have to delegate tasks to able subordinates and trust them to do the job well. These subordinates then report to the leader so that he is in control of the situation.

Train people to help you better

We can find an example of that with Paul training Timothy to be his faithful helper. Timothy not only accompanied Paul but also was sent on many crucial missions by Paul (Acts 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Rom. 16:21; 1 Cor. 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thess. 3:2,6).

Paul also encouraged Timothy and empowered him in his ministry by writing two letters to him – 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy.

If you want to accomplish more in your workplace, you should train good helpers.

Never give up hope

(Jer 29:11 NIV)  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We can have hope because God promises to prosper us. No matter how bad the situation at the office is, don’t give up. Hang in there because that is not your eventual state.

Accepting criticisms

(Prov 27:17 NIV)  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

(Prov 29:1 NIV)  A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.

I saw a slogan that says, “Treat criticisms from customers as a gift.” When a customer criticizes your product, he is telling you how to improve it and not charging you for consultation.

It is true that at times our colleagues criticize us to bring us down. But how wonderful it is if we can even use these destructive criticisms to improve our work.

How to handle criticism well

Be ready to ask for advise

Not only do we need to welcome criticisms, we also need to be willing to ask for advise and learn from others. It is true that we may look foolish when we ask something simple. Yet it is better to be foolish for the moment than for a long period not having the information we need to do our job well.

(Prov 24:5-6 NIV)  A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; {6} for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.

Invite God’s presence into a place

God’s presence will cause your business to improve.

(John 21:1-6)  Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: {2} Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. {3} "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. {4} Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. {5} He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. {6} He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

The disciples caught nothing before Jesus arrived. Business was bad. When Jesus came, He made all the difference. Business was so good, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

When we ask God to come into our workplace, we also want to ask Him to bless our work and business. The disciples’ fishing business improved when Jesus told them how they should fish. We want to ask God’s presence to come to this place to teach you and give you strategies as to how to be successful in your work or business.

Importance of goal setting

(Phil 3:14 NIV)  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul could suffer so much for the gospel because he was singular in his objective in life. All he wants is to do the work God has given him to do – to bring the gospel to the gentiles – and this gave him the ability to handle the hardships.

Likewise Jesus could handle much hardship because He too had a defined purpose for coming into this world.

(Mark 10:45 NIV)  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

In our workplace, we need to set goals. If we want to reach our colleagues with the gospel that is one goal we can set. But we should also set goals so that we can do our job well. God wants us to excel in our job as well as a testimony of His goodness.

There are many areas of our work we can devote our time to but we need to ask ourselves what are the few things that count. Our interaction with our bosses or our observation of the work environment may give us a clue as to what is really important to the organization that we need to channel our energy to. Once we have decided on that, we can construct a goal to achieve those objectives.

Importance of preparation

In the parable of the 10 virgins, five were prepared while five were not .

(Mat 25:1-13 NIV)  "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. {2} Five of them were foolish and five were wise. {3} The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. {4} The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. {5} The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. {6} "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' {7} "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. {8} The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' {9} "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' {10} "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. {11} "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' {12} "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' {13} "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

This parable is not directly talking about work; it is talking about being prepared for the day of the Lord’s coming. Yet we can draw important lessons about preparation. Many aspects of our work can be done much better if only we were prepared for it.

Importance of planning

(Neh 2:11-17 NIV) {11} I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days {12} I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. {13} By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. {14} Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; {15} so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. {16} The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. {17} Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."

Nehemiah demonstrated wise and shrewd leadership when he carefully planned his project before beginning to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Importance of record keeping

(Prov 27:23 NIV)  Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;

King Solomon gave us good advice. We are to know the state of our inventory or what we have. This highlights the importance of record keeping.

Though many of us may dread record keeping, we would admit that many times we need a particular piece of information that we do not have and we regret not having made a record of that.

Managing your time

(Eph 5:15-16 NRSV)  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, {16} making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

This piece of good advice is not just relevant to us in our spiritual life, it is relevant to our work life. In our society when more and more is demanded of an individual, we really need to manage our time well. We do so by prioritizing our tasks.

In many aspects of life, the 80-20 rule hold true. This is usually true also of time management. It may surprise you that 20% of effort, spent on important areas of your work, can make a different to 80% of your performance.

The first step in prioritizing our tasks is to decide on which ones make the most difference to our performance. In general, do those first.

Do more than is expected of you

(Mat 5:41 NIV)  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

An excellent way to make a difference in our attitude in the workplace is simply to go the extra mile. When we are asked to do something, do we do it grudgingly or do we even surpass that?

Learn to make the right decisions
See Study on God's Will

Coping with job stress
Remembering to rest

(Deu 5:12-14 NIV)  "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. {13} Six days you shall labor and do all your work, {14} but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.

Jesus was not a workaholic. After feeding the five thousand, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place (Matt 14:13). After being tested by the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus left them and went away (Matt 16:4). After healing Simon’s mother-in-law and many others, Jesus went out to a solitary place (Luke 4:42).

It is so easy to get caught up in our work such that we do not take time to rest.

Coping with anxiety
Trusting in the Lord

(Prov 3:5-6 NIV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; {6} in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

If we want to do well in our work, we have to trust God to make straight our paths. If we trust in ourselves alone, we will only reap the performance proportionate to our human capabilities. It is only when we trust God that we get supernatural results.

Coping with change

One area we need to learn is to cope with change. Some people can cope with stressful conditions that are part of their routine. But when they encounter change, they get frustrated because things are no longer familiar. We need to learn that change is part and parcel of life and we need to learn to cope with change.

(Rom 8:28 NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The first thing we have to understand is that whatever changes occur in our life, God will work it out for good if you are living according to His purpose. Therefore there is no need to worry.

(Jer 29:11 NIV)  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God has assured us that He has plans to prosper us. The change that occurs in our life is not going to derail the plan that God has for us.

It takes wisdom to do new things that change brings. It may be a new area of work responsibility that is new to you. Ask God to give you wisdom to do the task well.