According to a recent USA Today survey, almost half of all people surveyed are unhappy with their jobs. Do you ever feel that way? Are you happy with your vocation?
I’ll admit, I have been very disappointed with my work at times—and I’m a pastor! If you’re honest you’ll probably admit that you’ve had struggles with your vocation; wondering if it’s the right thing for you or wishing you had more purpose.
There’s a secret when it comes to finding purpose and fulfillment in work and the answer comes from asking a few key questions.
Where Does Work Come From?
While you might think that the concept of work comes from the devil, the opposite is true. Work is a gift from God to man. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
Keep in mind that this is before the fall of mankind into sin. Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God did not result in the curse of work. God had alway intended mankind to do some kind of work in the garden—watering, pruning, planting—I assume things like that.
It’s true that work became more arduous after the fall, but the original intention of God was for men and women to work up a good sweat tending fruits, vegetables, and animals.
If that bugs you remember this, God worked too, even before we had to. According to the Genesis story, God worked for 6 days to create everything we know as the universe and then rested on the sixth day (Genesis 2:2). God never asks us to do something that he won’t do himself. This is true of forgiveness, love, patiences, and working.
Do You Struggle to Make Work Seem Meaningful?
There are two main reasons that you may struggle with your work. The first is that you may be in the wrong career or field. Simply stated, you might not be doing what you were made to do. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”
This means that every single believer has been given a special gift from God, for example, some people are good at teaching, while others have a gift for hospitality. Some people are talented leaders and some are gifted in administrative tasks.
While Peter admonishes his readers to use their gifts to serve each other, the point is that people have a God-given wiring that is unique to them. People who find themselves in careers that are complementary to their gifting are happier and more fulfilled.
So, if you’re not happy in your work, the first question you might ask yourself is if you are doing the thing you were made to do. If not, begin figuring out what career is compatible with the gift you have been given from God.
The second reason you may be unhappy in your job is because you are working for the wrong boss. I’ve heard the adage “most people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their boss.” I know the feeling. I once had a boss that was very difficult to work for and even though I enjoyed the job in general, I couldn’t stand working for him. Eventually I had to quit.
But, even if you have a terrible boss here on earth, remember you have a great boss in Heaven. Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Colossae about having a good work ethic. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Paul goes on to give advice even to the servants who were in the church when he encouraged them not to work for their earthly masters, but to consider their work as for the Lord Jesus himself.
Can Work Be Worship?
Once you realize that everything you do can be done for God’ glory, it will change your mindset. This is when work becomes worship. Suddenly even the most mundane tasks have purpose—even the simplest duties have meaning.
When you understand work as worship, the payoff is amazing. First, you will gain a huge new sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in your work because your work will take on eternal importance. Secondly, everything you do will now point to God and other people will take notice of your work. When they see you pouring your heart into even your job it will make the gospel more appealing. The Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing to his young apprentice, Titus. He said, “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10b). His point was that our actions can actually make the gospel attractive to the people around us.