How Can I Know If My Work is Worship or Idolatry or Both? A Practical Suggestion

By Mark D. Roberts

June 1, 2016

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

Revelation 22:8-9


People communing together over workIn yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began to consider the question: How can I know if my work is worship or idolatry or both? This question assumes what we have seen in several recent devotions, namely, that our work can be worship when it is an expression of God’s sovereignty over our lives. Our work is worship when we offer it to God for his purposes and glory. Yet, if our work takes first place in our lives, if work is the constant that determines all the other variables in our lives, then our work has become an idol.

If you want to discover where your work falls on the worship-idolatry scale, invite others to share in this discernment process with you.


Yesterday, I suggested that we can discover where our work falls on the worship-idolatry scale by examining our actions and our hearts. What we do and how we do it reveal our core commitments and values. Why we do these things reflects our deep intentions and yearnings. By honestly examining our lives and peering into our hearts, with the help of God’s Spirit, we can begin to see whether our work is worship or idolatry or a combination of the two.

Today, I want to add a practical suggestion to what I wrote yesterday. It’s really quite simple. If you want to discover where your work falls on the worship-idolatry scale, invite others to share in this discernment process with you. Find at least one brother or sister in Christ – a person of wisdom and maturity, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, someone you can trust enough to be open about what’s real in your life – and invite that person (or those people) to help you understand how your work relates to God.

The form of community for this discernment process could vary. You might do this in a small group of disciples who also want to discover where their work falls on the worship-idolatry scale. You might decide to share in this process with one trusted, wise brother or sister in Christ. You might get into a structured relationship with a pastoral counselor or spiritual director.

Right now, in my life, I have invited several others to help me discover what’s true about my own work in relationship to God. These others include my wife, a few close friends, my pastor, and a spiritual director. As I talk with these brothers and sisters about my work, I am learning things I would not have been able to figure out on my own. One result of this process is that I am more intentional than I have ever been about offering my work to God on a daily basis. I am learning how to let my work be worship, not only through my individual spiritual disciplines, but also through the discipline of Christian community.

After today, we’ll be moving on from the issue of work and worship. There is much more to be said, of course. I expect we’ll return to this topic again down the road. But, for now, let me encourage you, once again, to let your work be worship. And, if it seems right, you may want to invite at least one other person to walk with you as you seek to offer all that you are and all that you do to the Lord.


Have you ever been in relationship with other believers in which conversations about work helped you to offer your work to God as worship?

Do you sense a need for engaging in this conversation with others? Who might those others be for you?

What might help you today to offer your work to the Lord as worship?


Gracious God, once again we thank you for the privilege of knowing and worshiping you. We thank you also for the opportunity to worship you through our work.

Help us, Lord, to grow in our ability to offer our work to you as worship. Help us to turn from any temptation to make work the top priority of our lives. Give us wisdom, we pray, as we examine our actions and hearts. Bring into our lives others who can share with us in this discernment process.

All praise, glory, and honor be to you, O God, in every part of life, including our work. Amen.


Explore online Bible commentary for The Meaning of Revelation for Our Work at the Theology of Work Project.

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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