It’s a labor of love. Or is it?
People say, “Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life,” implying of course that if you follow your passion, then it won’t feel like work. But is this really true?
My husband loves motorcycles. He has loved them nearly as long as he had loved the ladies. He started riding before it was legal at the spitfire age of fourteen. He has been hooked ever since.
But then he went to school for accounting, sat for the CPA exam to become a Certified Public Accountant and became licensed. But as you can imagine, this wild child at heart was not in love with bean counting.
He began flipping bikes on the side and then had the opportunity to start an official business, owning and operating his own dealership. He started with six bikes, and now he has over eighty on an average day, as well as a successful online business.
He loves bikes. So shouldn’t he just love his job? Well, not always. Doing what you love simply isn’t enough (reminds me of a book I read four times in the 5th grade: Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough).
Liking a part of our job isn’t enough. Having the perfect schedule, a great boss, amazing co-workers or air hockey tables isn’t enough for us to truly love our jobs, even when it seems like it should.
We typically work because we have to; the mortgage, the water bill, and the car payments simply won’t wait. But don’t we all want a job/career that makes us happy?
But what if we know we ought to like our jobs, but we just aren’t feeling it?
Maybe we are looking at it all wrong. Maybe we are expecting the job to satisfy us, instead of us satisfying the job. Maybe we don’t really know what our “job” truly is.
A job is more than the job description you get from HR on your first day. A job, if done properly, is a mission executed with intention and humility. It is a purpose bigger than collating, a passion beyond the paycheck. Our jobs have the opportunity to shape who we are as humans, if we allow that to happen.
t doesn’t matter if you are the boss or the broom handler. You have way more control over your own work happiness than you may know. It’s all in your mission. Let me elaborate.
If you work for someone, start by asking yourself these questions:
If you are a boss, start by asking yourself these questions:
When we minimize our jobs to dollars and cents, and to time cards and meetings, we are truly missing a chance at happiness at work. These questions are just the beginning to assessing where you find your joy at work (if at all). But you can’t stop there. While self-awareness is a great beginning, character development requires action.
Here are some practical steps to finding joy and shaping your own character at work.
Start by praying and evaluating—If you hate your job, what can you do about it? Don’t start by looking at the annoying chick in the next cubicle, look at yourself. Ask yourself the above questions. Be honest. Faking yourself out could rob you of valuable change and potential joy. (Romans 12:3)
Slow down and look around—What you are rushing through? Who are you cutting off? Who should you get to know? I tell my kids all the time, life is about relationships. If you are missing the human factor at work, I can just about guarantee that you are missing God’s interest in your vocation. (1 Chron. 28:19)
Look for the forest, not just the trees—Details are HUGE but let’s not forget the big picture. Are you missing a larger purpose for yourself because you are hung up in the minutiae? Don’t limit yourself with small thinking. Ask yourself why? Why am I here? What can I contribute? Who can I serve? (Ephesians 2:10)
Reevaluate your passion—If your passion has been to get a raise, more market share, or to edge out the competition, then you have made misery your goal. Why? Because those are ever-expanding goals. Once you reach it, you will raise it. Mark my words. There is never enough money or success for those who are driven by it. (Hebrews 13:5)
Quit worrying about your survival—No, don’t lay down and nap your life away. But stop stressing every dollar that comes in or doesn’t. You either trust God or you don’t. There are no take backs of our troubles. Give it to Him and then busy your hands doing His work. (Mark 6:25-37)
Work for God instead of “man”—Please don’t forget about your fellow man, but do not work for man’s approval. Follow your boss’s directives; do not be a slave to pleasing him or her. When you have a godly mindset, even picking up puppy poo can be act of service and a source of joy. (Colossians 3:23)
Put your back into it—Whatever you do for a living, do it for real. Pour your heart out. Give it your all. You will never feel fulfilled by holding back and saving the best for yourself. If there is a part of your job that you perpetually struggle with, get more training; and if you are the boss, consider hiring a coach or consultant. If you are stuck, grab a shovel, not a tissue. (Proverbs 14:23 & Philippians 2:14-15)
Be somebody—I don’t care if you get recognized at the national conference next year, and God might not either. But I can assure you He cares about your character. Be somebody by standing straight and tall, by showing up for your co-workers in need, by being loyal to the boss who has employed you for years, and by being the kind of guy that puts relationship before advantage and His kingdom before your success. (Acts 20:35)
I will not lie to you. Times have been tough for my husband (and for me as his helper at work and his wife at home). He loves bikes, but so much of his job doesn’t come easy for him. Managing people is really hard for him. Maybe it’s time for him to move on. Maybe it’s time for him to reevaluate his purpose. Maybe it’s time for him to grab a shovel and a wheelbarrow and push through the mudslide.
And at the end of the day, we also have to know when to move on and when to dig deeper. I can’t tell you when that is, and your neighbor can’t tell you either. This is a full tilt God thing. Talk to Him. Ask a bunch of questions. And then be obedient. Whether you stay or go, you have to follow the Man in command. If you are not following Him, you are following you. It might be fun to just “do you” until of course you are sad and empty from a job with no purpose.
Are you doing God’s work? I don’t mean are you working at a church or as a missionary, I mean are you doing God’s work where you are a bus driver, an attorney or a cotton candy maker? This is where the true joy comes in. A man following His purpose is a man with joy and character.
Now I am going to challenge you to do something uncomfortable:
Share what scares you, the thing you know could make you great, but that you have been avoiding. Make your vision known to the world. Your announcement will bring accountability and accountability brings action. When have you felt a nudging to do things differently at work? What has prayer revealed to you? Is it time for a job change, or is it time for a change of heart? Maybe God will lead you into greatness of character… when you step out on that limb to simply follow Him.
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
A job isn’t just about the work you do, but the work done in you, and through you as you allow your work to shape your passion.
Kris Wolfe is a Christian, wife and mother. She is a freelance writer who focuses on spiritual and practical encouragement, writes lessons for small group purposes for churches, and is also a small group coach. Kris has a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and Seminary and is a listed TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator.
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