Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why God May Will An Unsatisfying Job

Conventional thinking assumes that God wants us to have jobs that are fulfilling. We are naturally convinced that God would have us satisfied in our work. But is that always true or even generally true? Might God actually place us in jobs that are unsatisfying? Would we find ourselves led to a place where our work is unrewarding?

As I've explored this in my own life, I've come to consider the possibility that God will sometimes, strategically place us in such situations, in order that His greater purpose might be fulfilled in us. Here are three reasons why God may will an unsatisfying job for us -

1. Unsatisfying work can lead us to center our joy in Christ and not in our work. From my own experience, it's easy to be happy when everything is going right. It's not so easy when work is hard, projects are failing, companies are struggling. But these situations offer us an opportunity to center our joy in Jesus Christ. We learn that knowing Christ is more valuable to our souls than the best paying, most satisfying job.

2. Unsatisfying work can be a means to sanctify us. God may be seeking to teach us something through a less than satisfying job. We may discover our need for God...we may learn perseverance....we may grow in patience. All this to better fashion us in the image of His Son.

3. Unsatisfying work reminds us that we're not home yet. When we find ourselves in the midst of unrewarding work, we are reminded that in this life, our work is tinged with sin and difficulty. But it won't be like that forever. God will redeem us and bring us to a place of rich, fulfilling labor. We can cast our eyes heavenward and trust that His work in the past and currently will bring this to pass. We can be truly optimistic and hopeful when we consider the future.

I've found it helpful to think through these points but perhaps I'm wrong on this. Please let me know. Please share if you occasionally struggle with work that is not satisfying. How do you respond and why?


Lyla Lindquist said...

I have to agree...we put a premium on job satisfaction and sometimes beat ourselves up or beat God up if it's not there. Being content isn't about the job, and I agree He will use an unsatisfying job to bring us to the point of looking to Him instead of our circumstances for our joy and satisfaction. Thanks for saying this out loud.

Paul Long said...

I doubt we can ever be truly satisfied with our work until the new heaven and earth because sin has so infected our world.

Every Square Inch said...

Lyla - thanks for stopping by with a comment. The temptation I face in the prosperity of a "dream job" is that I forget the Giver of the gift.

Paul - agreed and we can look forward to that Day...and also work in the midst of an imperfect world today.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Excellent post. Good thoughts that need to be said.

I do struggle a bit with #3. I do think we can have a sense that our work NOW matters eternally and is in Jesus some way redemptive. As Paul says at the end and conclusion of his thoughts on the gospel and the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.

But we need to keep it all in mind, and for me Ecclesiastes is so important, and key. Learn to enjoy the mundane task I do it, do it with all my might, and seek in all things to fear God and obey his commandments, etc.

Red Letter Believers said...

Is it just possible that work is supposed to be difficult? Sometimes it means sweat and frustration and disappointment. It wont always be satisfying. It wont always be fun....

Great Post


Jimmy said...

thanks David for bringing us back to Genesis and the Fall. Adam would bring forth the fruit of the land by the sweat of his brow and would have to deal with weeds. then there is draught and famine so, why would anything change in that way.
what is in view is how we respond. thanks be to God we have Savior and the Spirit to walk this life with.
to be clear, i am not faithful in walking with the Spirit and being a godly example at this.

my challenge is keeping God in view, it is quite a compelling witness to watch someone go to a job they do not enjoy for decades, be faithful to work hard and share the gospel when opportunity presents itself. i have hero like that in my church and what a help that is.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - I think both can be true - we're not home yet so work here is limited and hard but whatever good we do still matters because in God's economy, he works all things for his eternal purposes.

David - amen to work is hard. The Bible tells us that in Genesis doesn't it? But God also works in and through our work for redemptive purposes

Jimmy - your story of the person who goes to work faithfully, even when it isn't fulfilling, but still working faithfully is inspiring. That's a story that we largely overlook when we talk about redeeming the culture or workplace. Instead we focus on men who obtain worldly success and influence. I can't help but think that God might view that differently

Jean said...

Interesting post. I believe that we often confuse "our" goals for our work & our lives with "God's" higher goals.

Thanks for saying it so well.


Red Letter Believers said...

ESQ...sorry i didnt tell you earlier, but this post was highlighted on the NOV 10 High Calling blogs featured posts.

David Rupert

Every Square Inch said...

Jean - thanks for dropping by with a comment. Yes, our goals for our work may not align with God's higher goals but we can trust that He will work things out for our good.

David - honored and thankful

Mark said...

I sometimes feel that all our work in this life is to prepare us - and those we work with - for our eternal work.

In the same way that our current bodies will be transformed, perhaps our current callings are but a seed, that must die and be buried, to be resurrected in new and glorious form as our eternal and perfect career.

Every Square Inch said...

Mark - I've never considered that before but perhaps there's truth to what you're saying... you've given me food for thought. I do know that God intends to work in us something wonderful and glorious. Sometimes that means that we have to walk through less than pleasing experiences, including an unsatisfying job

elaine said...

If we turn our eyes back to God and His call upon all our lives, we will remember that we are ultimately called to be vessels for noble purposes of saving lives. In view of this, it no longer matters if our work is satisfying or not but which lives in the office space does God want us to touch and bring to His kingdom. Being used that way makes every work and job satisfying. His burden is light and His yoke is easy. :)