Work Freedom - Part 2

By DeLano Sheffield

July 1, 2023

Scripture — Philippians 2:5-7a (NRSV)

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming human likeness.


Being a servant to God grants us freedom to simply do the work for the sake of the good of us doing the work. And it frees us to see the values of others’ service also.


In the last devotion we saw how Christ’s humility can lead us to humility, and humility grants us freedom to simply do the work for the sake of the good of us doing the work, and it frees others we work with also.

How does that inform our work? For Jesus the result was to be emptied. Jesus’ self-emptying was not to the point of non-existence or relevance. He emptied to the point of service. I was always astonished in the moments when I worked in an Italian restaurant when the head chef and owner would come back to the cubbyhole where the dishwashers were and help us wash dishes.  He did not cease to be the owner and head chef. He did not have to flaunt his position or hover to make sure no one took it. Nor did he come back to inform us that we did not deserve to be dishwashers (or to move us into other good positions for that matter.) He just wanted to wash dishes with us.

Christ came washing dishes so that we might remember who made the dishes. Christ came with service as a title that permeated all his occupational endeavors—from childhood to his artisan work, at weddings and in temples. From the cross, in the grave, seated on the right hand of the Father, Jesus the Christ embodies service.

When we serve anything else it leads to trouble. When we are in control (while bearing a title or not) our ends will justify our means. And those means usually lead to exhaustion. Our expectations of ourselves, others, and systems are clouded. Our systems get in the way of more important questions. We are more concerned about good metrics, clean history, and margins versus what it means for someone to be whole.

If we are God’s servants, it actually frees us in our work to simply be present looking through the lens of Christ without compulsion. We can give freely to our work without fear of loss because our identity isn’t something to be grasped greedily. We serve freely because others’ identity isn’t a threat to our own wholeness.

Being a servant to God grants us freedom to simply do the work for the sake of the good of us doing the work. And it frees us to see the values of others’ service also.


What does emptying mean for you in your workplace?


Practice acts of self-emptying in your workplace. How do you elevate those who are left on the fringes? And how do you bring yourself to the same level as someone whose work is considered more valuable?


We are reminded that we need you each day. But we often forget. Teach us what it means to empty ourselves without losing ourselves, where our work for others is not out of compulsion or necessity, but purely because of our love for you. Amen.

Banner image by E Vitka on Unsplash.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: 3 Examples of Following Christ as Ordinary Christians (Philippians 2:19–3:21).

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DeLano Sheffield

Author & Business Resource Specialist

DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coa...

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