Be Watchful at Work

By Mark D. Roberts

February 23, 2017

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13:35-37


A person using binoculars while as a lookout.At the end of Mark 13, after revealing key elements of the future, Jesus tells his disciples: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (13:37). What does this mean for us? What happens when we watch? And how might this be relevant to our daily lives, including our work?

Notice that “Watch!” does not mean, “Figure out precisely when the end will come.” For some believers, watching is mainly about predicting the future. But Jesus never encouraged this. In fact, what he said about nobody knowing the exact timing of future events should discourage us from trying to prove Jesus wrong in this regard (13:32). Watchfulness is something other than telling the future.

The Greek verb translated here as “watch” is gregorein, which means “stay awake, be in constant readiness.” It’s not just looking around to see what’s going on. Rather, when we watch, we are attentive to what matters and we are ready to go when the time is right.

As we watch for the coming of Jesus and the fullness of the kingdom of God, we are not supposed to kick back and do nothing, as if watching were the sum total of our vocation. Rather, we bring our awareness of God’s future into every part of our lives, including our work. For example, if we know that, someday, God’s peace will pervade every part of this world, then we will find encouragement to be a peacemaker where God has placed us. Similarly, if we understand that God “will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth” (Is 42:4), then we will work to see God’s justice experienced now, even as we wait for the complete justice that is yet to come. Or, if we are inspired by the biblical vision of all of God’s people united before him, then we will be agents of reconciliation in this age. And if we believe that one day God’s love will triumph over hate, then we will seek to be people of love in every sector of our lives.

So, being watchful does not distract us from doing our work well. Rather, it empowers us to work in this day knowing that a more glorious day is coming. Watchfulness can help us to do our work in a way that is more consistent with God’s mission and future. It can prepare us for the day when we will hear from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


How might watchfulness of the sort Jesus talks about make a difference in your work?

To what extent do you allow the biblical vision of God’s future to inspire and shape your life, including your work?


Gracious God, thank you for the call of Jesus to watch. Thank you for this stirring reminder.

Help us, Lord, to pay attention to what matters in this world. Help us to live with one eye on the future. May the vision of your great work that is yet to come motivate us and guide us as we seek to live our whole lives for your glory. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentaryParables at Work (Mark 4:26-29 and 13:32-37)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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