8 Motivations to Work

As a follow-up to Pastor Tyler Johnson’s excellent sermon on integrating worship into all of life, I wanted to discuss a key factor that will determine the degree to which your work is satisfying: motivation.

Everything we do is motivated by something. So is work. The question for every follower of Jesus is, “Is my motivation for work a biblical one?” Below are 8 motivations to work, but first a few important observations about this list:

  • Scripture affirms all of these motivations.
  • The more of these motivations a person has about his work the more motivated he will be about his job and therefore more productive.
  • The more of these motivations a person has about his work the bigger perspective he will have.
  • The more success a person has in implementing these motivations the happier and more personally fulfilled he will be at work.

8 Motivations for Work

1. “I have to work.”
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12)

2. “To meet my needs and the needs of my family.”
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

3. “I desire a certain standard of living.”
Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

4. “I desire to accomplish something meaningful.”
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

5. “I do something at work that is beneficial and meaningful to others.”
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: (1 Peter 4:10)

6. “I can earn money that I can use to help others.”
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4:28)

7. “I can earn money to give that would help advance God’s kingdom on earth.”
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; (Proverbs 3:9)

8. “I can serve and glorify God in my work and spiritually impact people by the way I go about my work.”
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)

8 Motivations, 4 Drives

Essentially, these 8 motivations could be broken down into 4 drives:

1. Paycheck driven – “I can provide and have a certain standard of living.”
2. Passion driven – “I can do something meaningful.”
3. Philanthropy driven – “I can help others and make a difference.”
4. Purpose driven – “I can make much of God through the quality of my work.”

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  1. #1 by Quinn on March 22, 2011 - 10:11 pm

    This post came at the perfect time! I was just asking myself what is my motivation to work and is it a bibical one? This helped answered that!

    THANK YOU for your leadership and your tenderness in sheparding us!

  2. #2 by Luke Simmons on March 25, 2011 - 5:49 am

    You’re welcome, Quinn. Thanks for reading!

  3. #3 by Steffen on January 8, 2014 - 8:08 am

    i’m not really involved in religion but this is a nice take on work motivation. especially to know the 4 Drives is interesting. with that you can find out what drives yourself the most and use that to motivate yourself even better.

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