“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others…” Colossians 3:23
Work is a blessing because it was ordained by God. It is a great gift to be able to get up each morning with a purpose and intent for the day, knowing that what we do will bring in support for ourselves and our families. There is also great opportunity in our work and God opens doors through the things we put our time into each day. He gives us opportunities for growth, connection, relationship and fulfillment. Without some sort of work, we wouldn’t develop into better versions of ourselves or feel as much purpose. As human beings, we innately want to make the world a better place. Our work gives us the time and space to do just that.
Do you agree? Perhaps you are following along or perhaps you cannot relate. For those of you who find fulfillment in your work, I’m so happy that you do! For those of you who struggle to enjoy your job, fear not. Regardless of where you are coming from, we can all learn how to find purpose in the jobs we have.
The concept of “work” can be traced all the way back to the beginning of creation. God Himself worked—He made the heavens and the earth, the light and the darkness, the waters, land and sky, the plants and animals, the sun, moon and stars, and finally, human beings. God observed His work and “found it very good” (Genesis 1:31). He calls us to do the same. Genesis 2 goes on to tell how God assigned Adam and Eve the job to take care of God’s creation in the Garden of Eden. The work God gave Adam and Eve (and in turn, us) was a gift that He knew would bring them joy, connection and purpose. He designed work to be a blessing to us and others, so that we may be fulfilled.
If work was ordained by God and is meant to bring purpose to our lives and serve others, then why do so many people dislike their jobs? Gallup measured international employee satisfaction for almost two decades and found that 63% of employees are disengaged in their work. Reasons for dissatisfied employees often stem from a breakdown in relationships, not feeling like they have ownership of their work, and/or not finding what they do meaningful. (qz.com/498951/why-work-a-psychologist-explains-the-deeper-meaning-of-your-daily-grind/) Although this sounds disheartening, there is hope in knowing that a mindset and heartset shift can have a powerful impact on experiencing joy in the things we do.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
I recently read a Forbes interview with David and Wendy Ulrich, authors of The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win. They talked about the perspectives of employees who view their work as a gift.
“People find meaning when they see a clear connection between what they highly value and what they spend time doing…Humility is at the heart of a growth mindset that encourages and models learning…when we connect with people, remember humor and playfulness, practice creativity and resilience, and go into work situations with a plan, we’ll find ample opportunities to practice the values and skills that get us closer to what we want our lives to stand for. That’s the intrinsic value of our work,” said Wendy.
“Employees who envision the outcomes of their daily routines find more meaning from doing them,” added David.
How can you make sure you spend time doing the things you highly value? How can you have a growth mindset that stems from humility? When was the last time you connected with a coworker and talked about something other than work? Do you take opportunities to be creative and find humor in your day-to-day tasks? Do you go into work situations with a plan? Do you envision the outcomes of your daily tasks and routines?
The answers to these questions can be a great starting point to cultivate gratitude for your job.
Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister, author, and preacher summed it up well: “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest needs.”
How do we focus our mindset to find this great purpose and joy in our current job? What are some practical ways to see and practice work as a gift?
Discern what makes you excited. Start with finding one thing you enjoy about your job and make sure you do that thing every day. If there is something you have to look forward to and get enjoyment out of, the more apt you will be to respond in gratitude for your work. If there is nothing you get joy out of at work, start each day by writing why you are grateful to have a job that allows you to support yourself and your family. Keep a journal specifically for this purpose.
Some other practical tips for cultivating gratitude for your work include:
- Write why you are thankful for your job on a sticky note and post it somewhere on your desk.
- Make a list of all the things you have in your life that are made possible because of your job and put this list somewhere you’ll look every day.
- Incorporate Karl Sun’s tips on “How to Create a Culture of Gratitude in the Workplace” into your daily routine. They can be found here: www.forbes.com/sites/karlsun/2017/12/18/how-to-create-a-culture-of-gratitude-in-the-workplace/#688840797a18
- Pray for gratitude, for the grace to see the good in every situation, to discern what changes to make and what to push through. Ask the Lord what you can change that will help you be more joyful. Spend time with God and His Word. You never know what truth He will speak to you unless you open yourself up to it. In his article titled, “What Does the Bible Say about Work?”, Michael Lee Stallard writes, “God cares about our attitudes, for they shape what we say and do. Having attitudes that are consistent with God’s Word will help us flourish in our work.” (www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-does-the-bible-say-about-work.html)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you view your work? Do you practice gratitude? What are habits of gratitude that you’ve built into your day-to-day life that have been helpful for you?