Written by Rebecca Faith
Being a successful freelancer requires high productivity. Putting your brain in work mode, taking care of yourself physically, future-casting and scheduling, and purposefully ignoring electronic butterflies are important methods to keep yourself on track with your work and meet your deadlines. They are all important, but they are not the most important. You cannot ignore your boss.
I Thought I Was My Own Boss?
Isn’t that why I’m a freelancer? So I can wear whatever I want to wear to work, go to the gym in the middle of the day, set my own schedule, and take breaks whenever I want? These are, of course, some of the best benefits of freelancing.
As Christians, we believe that God ordained work when he gave Adam a job to do in Eden. God was Adam’s boss. He’s my boss. He has never not been “the boss.” We all know that, and we know the verses that reiterate that work is good and ordained*.
How Do I Ignore My Boss?
I read the book of Malachi last week when the topic of this post was already on my mind and I was trying to muddle my way into an outline. At the risk of being too simplistic and drawing applications where there are none, it nevertheless struck me that throughout the four chapters of Malachi God is calling Israel out for ignoring him, for giving him less than their best. How do we ignore my boss—God—in relation to our business?
By not asking him to direct us and provide the work he wants us to do. I am guilty of this more than I’d like to admit. How many times have I been under pressure to meet deadlines or struggled because I didn’t have enough work, yet when I made it a priority to pray the struggles to God, he always came to my rescue? Countless times! So why don’t I pray this way all the time, whether in times of plenty or times of need, in times of stress or times of ease?
By not giving him the best time of our day. My best brain time is first thing in the morning, right as that first cup of coffee starts to hit my bloodstream. At one time, I tried to get a jump on my work by sitting down at the computer with that first cup. My focus, speed, and efficiency are greater first thing in the morning. My rationale for doing this was that I would give myself a “break” in the afternoon, sit down with my Bible, and spend time in prayer. Of course, it quickly became apparent that putting off my quiet time to the afternoon was a plan to relegate my quiet time to the back shelf. I was soon going days without spending time with God. In Malachi 1:14, God “cursed … the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.” The only male in my flock is a cowardly rooster, but what I do have is unblemished time first thing in the morning.
By not being faithful to the work he has given us. If all my work projects are gifts from my boss’s hand, then I’m obligated to my highest level of excellence. We all have different levels of skill, but we can all work to our highest level of skill. When I agree to a project deadline, my word obligates me to meet that deadline. Granted, it takes skill and experience to estimate well how long a project might take, and sometimes I still miss the mark. When I do miss a deadline, I take time to evaluate why I missed it. Did I manage my schedule poorly? Did I underestimate the work involved? Did the project experience unforeseen delays? If the miss was my fault, am I willing to take steps to mitigate the consequences caused by the delay or compensate the client? “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24 ESV).
By not giving back to him a portion from our work. Whatever your beliefs are regarding tithing, giving back to God in offering is a principle throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Malachi 3:6–12, God accused his people of robbing him by withholding their contributions, but then he gave them a golden promise, “Test me and see what I will do” (Malachi 3:10–12, paraphrased).
Having recently celebrated Thanksgiving and now heading into the Christmas season, we are perhaps more mindful that our work is a blessing directly from the hand of God. Trust your boss with everything he has given you and don’t trust only in your own understanding and abilities. Submit all your work or lack of work and all your projects and ideas to him. He is your boss and will make your way straight (Proverbs 3:5–6, an editor’s paraphrase).
Rebecca began editing engineering papers in 2010 through a providential set of circumstances that taught her to never underestimate what God can do. Although she still edits for the engineering client, she also edits nonfiction Christian material for individual clients, an independent publisher, the Truth For Life radio ministry, and a wide variety of nonfiction topics for university presses, PhD students, a laboratory press, and independent authors.
Rebecca lives in northeast Ohio and is active in her church and rural community. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* See, for example, Proverbs 12:11, 14:23, 21:25; Ecclesiastes 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23–24; 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12.