“Oh, No! Not again,” I thought to myself. A close friend had just called to say she had been fired from her job. Not downsized, fired. This was the third job she had had in the past four years. She’d quit the first one and was fired from the last two. In this economy, that is not good. Jobs are hard to come by, particularly in her sector, marketing of non-profits. “So, what reason did they give for letting you go?“
“Actually, I was ready to quit anyway; they just saved me the trouble. I got into it with my boss a couple of months ago and things have been tense ever since. He wouldn’t let me use my talents; we have creative differences. Then he started to micro-manage, wanted to know where I was every minute. I’d come in late a couple of days a week when I had trouble getting the kids to the school bus on time, and I would have to drop them off at school. Everyone knows I’m a single mom and they cover for me. I missed a couple of client meetings, but Janice covered for me. The job wasn’t using my talents, I’m better off without it.”
Maybe that is true, I thought, but it would be good for her to stay at the same job for awhile. She needs a steady income and her daughter needs braces. Without any health insurance, that would have to wait. No telling when she will get another job in this economy.
I’ve worked for the same company for almost 14 years. Maybe I’m the one that is out of touch. There are days when the job doesn’t use all of my God-given talents, or when the work doesn’t bring me “happiness.” Maybe I should quit, too, or raise enough ruckus to get fired. Then I could look for a job that maximizes my value in the world, every moment of every day.
I was struggling with the concept of “fulfilling work” and I picked up A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World by Charles Drew. Drew describes three callings: our calling to know and love God (the most important), our calling for self-discovery, and then our calling to serve others.
Drew describes unemployment as a terrible thing not simply because we need money to eat, but because God made us to work. God worked when He created the world and then commanded Adam to care for it and work is declared a royal activity (Psalm 8:3-6).
Drew continues on that work is not simply or even primarily, career. Drew prefers lifework, with a broad definition of “the entire business of living out our entire existence in the presence of God.”
He says we often find ourselves struggling over a project, frustrated over a failed initiative, or depressed over a lack of recognition, and we rarely find a career that totally uses all of our God-given talents every minute of every day, offers us economic security and affirms our worth as children of God.
Work is good. Throughout each chaotic day, God gives us a variety of work. It may be making a presentation to a client, planning a family vacation, changing diapers, mediating an argument between friends, or calling on a sick neighbor. He gives a variety of tasks, many for which we don’t get paid, but we work anyway. The important thing is that we perform all this work that God has given us in a manner that brings him glory, putting aside our personal pride and human desire for recognition. God sees us, he values us and our efforts, and he will eventually compensate us, even if no one else does.
Brother Lawrence offers, “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
Take a few moments today and list the tasks that God has given you today, your lifework. Can you work hard at them (even if you don’t feel like it) to glorify God?
I pray that you will recognize your lifework in all your daily tasks.