In Colossians 3:23, Paul says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." Contextually, Paul is speaking to Gentile slaves serving in the Roman Empire in the first century. Considering human nature, it would have been easy for these slaves to slack off or simply lack motivation to serve in such a debasing, hopeless existence. In the NIGTC on Colossians, Dunn says,
The implication is that one of the chief
dangers of the slave status was a lack of
personal motivation which made all work
a drudgery provided grudgingly, with lack
of effort and always with a view to doing
as little as one could get away with. Such
an attitude can be sustained only at tremendous
personal cost, with other aspects of the
personality "switched off," withdrawn, or
suppressed, or with a calculating motivation
fed by resentment and bitterness (255).
I cannot imagine having to live such a life, but in whatever circumstances of life I find myself there are some key thoughts from this passage about how I lead it.
BE DETERMINED, WHATEVER. It does not matter how menial or tedious the task is. Not every task in glamorous; many are pretty thankless. Whether we are being watched or not, let us work with determination.
BE DETERMINED, WHOLEHEARTEDLY. The word translated "heartily" is the Greek word for "soul," and literally means "from the soul." One translation has "put your whole heart into it" (NEB). Christians know what our purpose and our goal is, so we should make an all-out pursuit in every facet of our lives! We are (or should be) 100 percent people, in our work, our relationships, our families, and the church.
BE DETERMINED, WHOEVER. Some are a pleasure to serve. They are appreciative and maybe even generous. Others grumble, criticize, and ignore even thoughtful gestures and special touches. This cannot effect our output. Whoever we are serving, we must work as though every bit of it is for the Lord. Try out that ethic and any task is more than bearable. Ultimately, He gives the reward.
Give your best shot, whatever you are doing. What awaits you is the ultimate recognition. You will even find you love doing it, however difficult the people with whom or for whom you must work might be. If slaves could do it and were expected to do it, what about us? Be determined!