Programming Like Jesus


During my days as a Computer Engineering student in my undergrad, I struggled with the idea of how to use my gifts for the glory of God. This career seemed like a far cry from the holy office of being a pastor or the humbling life of serving as a missionary to African orphans. Of course, I planned to give a generous portion of my healthy salary to the local Church, but I wanted to utilize my gifts directly for Him.

I actually found a few fun ways of turning code into references of Scripture. My favorite is the 1 Thessalonians 5:17 C++ code seen below and posted in my programming lab.

while(true) { cout << "Pray. "; }

While fun to be creative, it did little to benefit God’s people and Kingdom.

How can I program like Jesus?

Code With Integrity

I know a lot of programmers that love the coding life. Wake up at 11AM, write some code till noon, play XBox 360 for 3 hours, program til 6PM, and then bill the client for 8 hours of work. The greed behind these actions do not reflect the love of Christ and if found out, you could lose the respect from friends and clients.

Free Services To Churches & Christian Organizations

Churches and non-profits typically do not have budgets to pay for custom programs, macros, or web plugins that can streamline processes and in the end save money. Thus, I would offer my services to them for free and simply ask that they be okay with a delayed time of completion as some paid projects may take higher priority.

Do Not Steal

If you are writing code in a popular programming language, most likelypart, if not all, of the code has been imagined and written before. It may just have a different dataset and display of the content. If fact, I have been able to reverse engineer numerous programs to learn how people would do certain functions. We could lie and steal the code while making a quick buck. I might even “justify” it by giving the client a discount. But in the end, we have truly sinned and dishonored God.

Do you have any creative ways to write code like my pray without ceasing?

How do you use your unique gifts to honor God?


Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is a Christian first, husband and father next, and then a blogger, writer, and social media realist. Besides helping churches Level Up their digital marketing platforms and church tech ministries through the blog and direct consultations, he loves to spend time with his family and serving in the church with infant daycare and marital and pre-marital counseling. He is currently an outpatient clinician at a Colorado Community Behavioral Health Center and previously worked at Youth for Christ/USA as the Social Media Specialist as well as a Youth Ministry Director over the span of more than ten years. He has received his Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Denver Seminary, Masters of Arts in Family Ministry from Winebrenner Theological Seminary, and Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering from Ohio Northern University.

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  1. says

    We’ve told our kids for years that they didn’t have to be pastors or missionaries to serve God. The fact is that most of us are called to serve him right where we are, whether we write code for a living, make latte’s at the coffee shop, are teachers or lawyers or moms. Very often our influence right where we are is pretty significant.

    The principles you’ve listed apply to SO MANY professions. At one point I had a small window-cleaning business, and was able to create relationships with people I would never have come into contact with otherwise…and when I was out on my commercial route… we always did someone’s windows for free to demonstrate God’s amazing love (and to remind myself if was SO not about the money!) In some ways I think being a window cleaner influenced more people than when I was a training manager for our state’s Medicaid agency.

    God uses us where He puts us. It’s easy to miss that sometimes!

  2. Cliff Richardson says

    Great article, Jeremy. I’ve been a programmer for about 16 years, or so, and probably half that time has been spent working at home. It’s definitely a huge temptation to over quote something and then “get paid” to play video games. You’re right, that’s stealing.

    I’ve unfortunately had a couple bad experiences giving free programming to a couple of churches. It was for web development and it seemed there was always someone in the church who knew better what should be on the site. Now, I wanted to give them what they wanted, but when someone says, “The front page should be all text so people can read all the important information right when they get to the site.” I had to keep telling them “I do this for a living and that’s a bad idea.” I had put in probably 100 hours building a content management system for them and when all was said done the “board chairman” brought in his “friend” who looked at the site and, naturally, found a couple problems, and from that they determined that we needed to redo the entire thing.

    I was frustrated and just quit helping them. Nevertheless, I love helping people get through the ever confusing world of the web to get their church, or business, online and I still offer free advice (and coding) to those in need. Just have to make sure the proper parameters are set before engaging. :)

    • says

      I completely agree. I actually do not do website for free for that very reason. I look at free stuff like managing social media accounts for people, doing a QUICK video blog intro for someone, or something that they understand is free and NOT a top priority. Thanks for the share.

    • says

      I so hear you Cliff! I have had the exact same thing happen on multiple occasions! It’s difficult to give a church what you know they need, when there’s some guy who thinks he’s smarter than you…

      On the other hand, I did the web site for a local Bible college[0], and they have been so chuffed with it, they even wanted to pay me for my time on it. I refused payment because for me this was a direct way that I could use my gifts for the Lord. I told them to use the money on something else :-)



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