Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What If You Don't Like Your Job?

I've enjoyed every job I've held but I know that isn't the case for everyone. Some find themselves working in jobs that are less than satisfying...some even hate their jobs. Many Christians regard job satisfaction as a God given right and find themselves questioning why God hasn't blessed them in this way. Sam Shin asks these thought provoking questions on his excellent Gospel Prism blog -

"Does God want us to love our jobs?"
"Does God ultimately care what kind of job we hold?"

He expands on the second question by pointing to Paul's example and words -

"While Paul ministered to churches, he made tents which must have been an arduous and tedious task. He could have grumbled and complained about his job. After all, he was Paul, the apostle and church-planter extraordinaire. And yet, he responded with such words:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

The reality is, God never promises that we would have a job that we enjoy doing. Because God has given us His absolute best in His Son (Romans 8:32), and since that absolute best is actually the ultimate means by which we can have true and lasting joy, anything else is merely grace upon grace. If we don’t truly appreciate this wondrous truth, then we will always be searching for something that will never fully satisfy us."

The work/faith movement is often focused on drawing attention to biblical purpose in our daily work and most of this I applaud. Yet, as Sam correctly says - God doesn't promise us a satisfying or fulfilling job....just like He doesn't guarantee health, wealth or the American dream. In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, He insists that we find our satisfaction, delight and joy in Him, not simply His blessings.

So, how should a Christian think about a job he doesn't like? Here are a few thoughts -

1. Be grateful. Even in a job you don't like, there is much to be grateful for. He has given you work to do and that alone is a blessing (as anyone who has experienced prolonged unemployment will tell you). He has also blessed you with the physical and mental capacities to perform the work he's given you.

2. Trust God for a greater purpose. While doing his "job" as an apostle, Paul found himself in prison. Did he view this as an inconvenient detour from his mission? No, instead he viewed his imprisonment through the eyes of faith in a sovereign God. He believed his imprisonment served to advance the God's purpose.

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."
(Phillipians 1:12-14)

What might God be doing in the midst of your unsatisfying work?

3. Experience God as good. Most of us are familiar with Psalm 34:8 that says "taste and see that the Lord is good". We often neglect to quote the second part of that verse that says "blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him". The psalmist intended to inform us that experiencing God doesn't occur in the ether of good feelings or in a vacuum devoid of trouble. Instead, we taste and see God as good when we take refuge in Him in the midst of difficult circumstances.

4. Prayerfully consider a different job. There's much more that could be said about how to seek a new job and we covered this in a prior blog post. But the point here is that it isn't wrong to seek to change a bad situation or pursue a more satisfying job. Just be careful not to invest your hopes and joys in a new job. As Sam tells us - ultimately, it won't satisfy.



Does God care about the kind of job we have?
Is it God's will for us to have satisfying work?
What do you think?







10 comments:

Real Live Preacher said...

Nice thoughts. I've never been able to state the balance here. Willingness to stay and be thankful vs. a healthy sense of finding the right place for me and not staying in places that are harmful to me. I guess you just pray and live and sometimes you get it right. If not you learn.

Sam said...

Bro,

Your further thoughts on this subject are insightful and Gospel focused. Thanks for your heart. We'll be having a contingent go to Worship God (but not me). Will you be there?

L.L. Barkat said...

And I suppose the other bit is this... even in jobs we like, there are things we don't like. Well, at least that's how it's always worked for me.

Red Letter Believers said...

Great post...
I'm adding to the discussion tomorrow at www.redletterbelievers.blogspot.com

"You can take this job and..."

For me, I just stick it out and hope and pray it gets better. Usually it does, but often, I should have left long ago. You actually put some theology behind quitting a job.

David Rupert

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts and questions, ESI.

It reminds me of Ecclesiastes, where the writer makes the point that for a man to enjoy all his work under the sun is a gift from God. So we need to enjoy whatever tasks we have as gifts from God. While seeking to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Every Square Inch said...

RLP - Thanks for your thoughts and for the feature on HCB.

Sam - Thanks for the encouragement. I wasn't planning to attend Worship God but if that changes, I'll let you know. Would love to connect with your team.

LL - yes, there are always undesirable aspects of any job, even the ones we generally like.

Red Letter - I'm checking out your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Ted - you strike me as someone who likes the work you do, because you try to maintain a "Godward" perspective

ChenHuaiZhi said...

Hi Andre,

Thank you for your thoughts on vocation etc. They have given me food for thought.. Came to know of your blog through Dave Chang, and I see that Sam Shin (managed to visit his church while I was in the Bay Area) is connected with you as well :-) Great work!

Every Square Inch said...

ChenHuaiZhi

Welcome and thanks for taking the time to comment.

mark said...

Recently I have been corrected-
that it wasn't my job that I did not like, but rather, I have a running bitterness that resists tender acceptance of my Father's general will for the circumstances of the life he has for me;

that as ESI pointed out, I rarely take refuge in Him, but live in a practical atheism;

that, as my lovely and tender wife bears with me(resiliently stubborn minded), I learn the tenderness both in spirit toward God and truth toward her and a delight has emerged that illuminates a variety of dislikeable circumstances.

also, someone once modeled for me in under 12hrs a delight in God through both family and work, and this example that was set has been a most significant anchor for enduring the Lord's discipline to the end that His joy would be the light by which I see and evaluate.

The Lord is indeed more real than we know.

Every Square Inch said...

Mark

Thanks for your humble confession of your weakness - one that is shared by many of us. May God continue to help you - in fact, it seems like He already has.