Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Everybody Just Working for the Weekend?

Dear Jocelyn, 
I am a Christian, and I have a difficult time enjoying my work. I have a great job, great environment and co-workers, but the work that I do on a day-to-day basis does not strike my interest in the least. I'm thankful for having a job, and I definitely produce satisfactory work, but still find it difficult to motivate myself to work hard and excel past normal performance. Are we, as Christians, supposed to find something that we are passionate about for a career, or are we supposed to 'work to live' as opposed to 'live to work'?
-Bored at Work

Dear Bored,
I once heard it said that the problem of thinking we must "enjoy" our work is a modern problem. Think back hundreds of years—my guess is that most serfs and farmers did not enjoy their year-round, backbreaking labor. They toiled diligently in order to provide for their own—a very noble cause. 1st Timothy 5:8 states: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

I, however, do not believe that desiring to enjoy our work is solely a modern concern. Throughout history, we have countless examples of men and women who enjoyed what they did and believed it to be a calling, not just a job. Think about St. Paul, who was a full time missionary. Or Michelangelo, who produced numerous works of beautiful art (and likely enjoyed doing so!).

There is a compromise between believing that one must work solely to eat and provide, and believing that one can only be fulfilled by finding their calling. There are some people for whom their career path is clear before them—these have "always known” they wanted to become a writer, police officer, doctor, etc. Those people have been blessed to have a path stretched before them to follow. For some people, though, the path is a little more muddled. And for those who belong to this category, I do not think it wise to simply be unemployed or underemployed until they stumble upon their true calling. If you are unsure of your perfect career path, find a job that suits you and your talents. It might not be ideal or make you feel fulfilled, but it will keep you sheltered and fed, and allow you time to think about a job that might better suit you. I recommend you remember that whatever you do, you ought to do it for the glory of God. That doesn't mean being wildly enthusiastic about boring work, but rather reminding yourself, when you feel dissatisfied about what you are doing, that God has blessed you with a good job, and you should try your best. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:7, “[do] the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will, as to the Lord and not to man.”

If you are interested in pursuing different jobs, I recommend reading this book to aid in your search:48 Days to the Work You Love.  It is an excellent guide to learning what you are passionate about and how to pursue that wholeheartedly.


Unknown said...

Interesting question. Of course, I believe that we should work. We should also find what the Lord has given us in the way of passions and gifts.

If we do not enjoy our work, we can pray to Him to show us if we are where we should be. The fact is, we need to be pursuing that "work" He has called us to do. Sometimes that is our money-earning job. Sometimes it is not.

If we are pursuing the passions and gifts He has given us, we will find fulfillment in our lives. It just may not be that day-to-day job.

We may be able to find ways to use those gifts at that job sometimes. We may then be able to find ourselves open to the instances (no matter how small) of fulfillment that occur in that job.

Maybe this job is a stepping stone or a learning experience for you.

Of course, the ideal situation is to be working 40 hours a week at something that you are passionate about and where you can use those gifts. That's just not always the case.

Try looking for the bigger picture than "this moment", "this day". Be open to the unctions He gives you. He can use us wherever we are. Yep, that's WHEREVER we are. And when that happens, it ALWAYS brings us joy and fulfillment.

I'm still working on fully understanding what passions and gifts He has given me. And that's been over a half century of living! HaHa! (Although, truthfully, I have identified most of them. But, then, maybe He's given me a new one!)

(Ive never posted anything, hope I do it right!)

Jocelyn said...

Excellent points! Finding fulfillment in a career is not simply a matter of finding the "perfect job," but also trying to find fulfilmment in less than ideal situations, and being open to what God is telling us in that instance. Thanks!

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