If work is a part of our lives as Christians, then it is important to reflect on what being Christian means in our work. For if we exclude work from our being Christians, it would be as inconsistent and impossible as saying that we love someone except when we are with another. Loving someone means precisely that it is neither parttime nor depending on the situation, but that it is fulltime and independent of the situation. Being Christian means that we are Christian in all facets of our lives, and, therefore, in our work as well.

Reflection on the meaning of being Christian in our work becomes more important the more we work. Because the larger the part of our lives we work, the more our work says whether and how we live as Christians. We then get more opportunities to put into practice our Christianity. The more we waste these opportunities, the more we waste our lives.

But even if we do not work or no longer work or never have worked, reflection on what it means to be Christian in work is important. When we orient ourselves for a study or job, it is important to think through what it means to be Christian in our future work. If we choose not to work, but, for example, dedicate ourselves fully to raising our children, then we can make this choice on better grounds when we know what work does and does not mean. If we are unable to work, or are unemployed or retired, it is important to think through how we might express our being Christian in activities other than a paid job.


In this book I have tried to think through, at least for myself, what it means to be Christian for and in work. The first part of this book deals with what being Christian means for work. What is work from a Christian perspective, why is there work, and why should we work? Additionally, what are good works and when is work good? The second part is about being Christian in work. How can I be Christian in my work? What are the important virtues and principles for this? What makes up my ethical compass, and what behavior characterizes a Christian in work? The first part is about the basis of work (mostly, the ’why’), and the second part is about guidelines for work (mostly, the ’how’).


The form of this book is aphoristic in the sense that the paragraphs consist of theses, maxims, one-liners, mnemonics, nudges, reflections, thoughts, vistas, seeds, sparks, nuggets, nuts, or kernels of inspiration. I chose this form in the hope of stimulating the reader to reflect and think through what being Christian means for work in general and for their own work, in particular. A narrative can be easy to read through, but it carries the risk that the reader reads rather than thinks and considers. That’s why this book is not a reading book but a workbook.

The intention of this workbook is not to read it in one go, but to consider one or more paragraphs, alone or with each other, and then to ask oneself: what do I think of this? What does it tell me? Do I recognize it? How would I formulate it myself? What can I do with this, and can I apply this (better)? This is how I used this book myself. Every working day, I read one paragraph, in addition to the Bible, and ruminate, hoping that its seed will sprout and come to fruition in my work. Each chapter comes with questions to stimulate this rumination. The numbers at the end of the questions refer to the paragraph numbers in the relevant chapter. The questions are formulated in the first person, so these are questions that you can ask yourself.

The form of this book is also aphoristic in the sense that the chapters are short. The short chapters build on each other but each can also be read separately. The first part starts out with a praise and confession and proceeds to explain what work is. It argues that work is a gift from God and that there are all kinds of motives to work. It continues with an exposé of what counts as good works and how God leads us in our work. This first part concludes with our choice of occupation, sin in our work, and the role of faith in distinguishing good from evil in work. The second part contains seventeen guidelines for work. These guidelines are not categorized to prevent artificiality and to prevent the impression that one guideline has priority over another. As far as I am concerned, these guidelines are all important, except that love is described as the heart of the ethics of work.

This organization in chapters hopefully helps in searching and retrieving—at least, that is how it works for me when I am confronted in my work with a question or dilemma and want to find, for example, what a certain guideline means. In this sense, this book could be used as a code of conduct such as many organizations have. Because I have written a lot of codes of conduct for organizations, I know how useful a code can be as a reference material even though the chosen form can come across as monotonous.


The focus of this book is on work. It deals with work in the sense of paid and unpaid labor. Therefore, it is not just about a paid job, but also about unpaid, volunteer work. Homework and domestic work can also be included, although not everything that follows will be relevant for this. The focus on work means that it is not just about all the good works we can do, but “just” on the good works we can perform in and through our work. The focus on work also does not mean that work is the only thing and that nothing else counts. On the contrary.

First and foremost, it is about our relation to God and the work of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Only then is it about our work. Besides there is more to life than work in the sense that we can also lead a good life as Christians without work. The point of the book is not that everybody should work. Nor is it a plea to work as much as possible. The final chapter on working soberly will downplay the significance of work and stress the importance of recreation, meditation, and Sunday rest.


The main source for this book is the Bible. The Bible offers us numerous insights and guidelines for the meaning of being Christian for and in our work. Because of this, the Bible is the point of departure for the creation of this workbook. However, I have not chosen an exegetic method as structure for this book. This is because on the one hand, an exegetic method has been used in other publications, and on the other, a thematic ordering is more useful for this book so that the reader has the relevant elements together for each topic. In this book, the footnotes contain references to relevant passages in the Bible. These references hopefully make clear that the book is grounded in the Bible. The footnotes do not contain the Biblical texts so the readers can use their own preferred Bible translation.

The other source for this book is my own occupation. Why do I feel the need to write this book? Since 1991, I have been an active researcher and consultant in professional ethics. As a result, I have learned many things about work in all kinds of sectors, functions, and countries. In addition, I have experienced a great deal as an employee, employer, supervisor, stockholder, and regulator. All these functions have given me food for thought for what it means to be Christian in work. Especially the scientific research that I have conducted into being Christian in work and conversations and presentations in this area have inspired me with the bright side of work and of people. In addition, the forensic investigations into the legal violations within organizations have confronted me with the dark side of work and of people. Since I was seventeen, I have made notes on all of these. This book is an ordered selection of these notes.


One remark about the tone of this book. Initially, I wrote this book for my personal use as a kind of record of my reflections about the meaning of being Christian in my work. After some encouragement from various people, I have published this book hoping that it might help others. I have rewritten the text somewhat. One of these changes concerns changing the basic text from first person singular to first person plural (as Christians we face a joint task). If the mode of address gives an imperative or paternalistic impression, this is not to lecture the reader, but it is purely the result of being somewhat stern with and provocative towards myself.

Another possible impression about this book is that it is oppressive because of the many things that are apparently expected of a Christian. However, this is not the intention. As Christians we may be idealists in our work, but we should not be unrealistic because we should know that both practice and we ourselves can be intractable. We should also know that the gap between ideal and practice does not need to distract us from God but can bring us closer to Him. Hopefully, this book does not remove but connects, not oppress but liberates.

There is much more to say about what this book is not. The book does not try to be exhaustive about what being Christian means in work. The book does not try to replace what the Bible says about work. The Bible is authoritative and if there is anything in these pages that is inconsistent with the Bible, then I am in the wrong. I hope you will let me know in that case. Neither is this book a rounded, unequivocal narrative. There are apparent contrasts or even contradictions. This book deals with a productive way of life and a life of in grace, about work as a blessing and as a curse, about the good and bad sides of work. The book does not aim to be a checklist, nor does it aim to refer to all the relevant passages in the Bible.


Finally, a word of thanks. Thanks to all who, through conversation, sermons, and exemplary behavior, have inspired me to get to the content of this book. Many thanks to all who have provided feedback to the drafts of this text. Above all, thanks to God for all He gave to achieve this book. May God provide us in being a Christian in our work.



  1. Is it valuable for me to reflect on what it means to be Christian for and in work?
  2. How often do I reflect on what it means to be Christian for and in work? And is that enough or can or should it be more? For example, how many times have I read the Bible on what it says about work? And when was the last time I read an article or book about being a Christian in work?
  3. How often do I talk to other Christians about the meaning of being Christian for and in work? Do I find these conversations valuable? Would I prefer to talk more with other Christians about the meaning of being Christian for and in work?
  4. How often are there conversations, sermons, or prayers about being Christian in work in my community of faith? Do these encourage me? To what extent could I use them in my work and do I actually do so?
  5. Do I agree with the claim that “Being Christian means that we are Christian in all facets of our lives, and, therefore, in our work as well”?
  6. Do I keep notes of what being Christian means for my work? If so, do I even consult them? And if I dont take notes, is it a good idea to start doing it?
  7. What are important Bible verses to use as a source of inspiration for my work?
  8. What are other important “seeds” (one liners, quotes) for me for my work? Have I come up with particular “seeds” that are helpful for being Christian in my work?
  9. What are big questions for me with respect to being Christian in work?
  10. How do I regard being Christian in work? Is it difficult and/or easy? Is it a blessing and/or a curse? Is it relaxing and/or stressful? Is it … and/or …?
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