Once upon a time, I worked at a small, family-owned car dealership that was run by a father and son. Both the father and son were my bosses, and often they had different ideas about how I should be spending my time.
The son would call me and say something like, “I need you to wash the cars at the front of the lot ASAP.” A few minutes later the father would say something like, “I need you to go to the title bureau right now.” When I explained to him that the son told me washing cars was the top priority, the father told me to ignore the son’s commands. Often, the son would tell me to do the same with the father’s.
This tug-of-war between the father and son created a constant state of stress within me. I was eager to show that I was a hardworking, reliable employee, but I felt like my own bosses weren’t giving me a fair chance. I was worried about being judged negatively by the son for obeying the father, and vice versa.
Here’s the truth I’m getting at: No matter how hard you work you can’t please everybody, which is why it’s so important to focus our attention on pleasing God in our work. Here’s what Paul writes to slaves in Ephesians:
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8).
Notice he doesn’t say slaves (or employees, in my case) shouldn’t care at all about what their masters (or bosses) think. He says we should “try to please them all the time,” serving them with sincerity and enthusiasm, as if we were serving Christ himself! When we serve Christ well we serve others well too.
But we all know that even when we do good work, human bosses don’t always recognize it. While some recognition would be nice every once in a while, just know that none of your work goes unnoticed, because not only does God recognize good work, he rewards it!