As I drove away from the last shift of the job I recently quit, every song I heard on the FM radio station became my favorite as I rolled down the window to sing as loud as I could–whether I knew the words or not. “The world is happier tonight!” I yelled to no one in particular. I could not crank the radio loud enough or get the cool night wind to blow hard enough into my face. Coming home to a houseful of sleeping roommates, it didn’t even bother me to have no one to celebrate with. For, in a whirlwind of exhausted energy and flustered excitement, my body lay perfectly and contently paralyzed the second it hit the couch.
I have come to hate every single job I ever quit. “It pays the bills” is a phrase I have too-often muttered but have come to accept as a wonderfully harsh reality. If you have never worked a job that has pushed you to your physical, spiritual and emotional extremes, I admit, you may not find it easy to identify with the experience I just related. And yet, happy as I was to quit that job, I cannot wish it or any job like it any ill will at all, nor can I ever tell somebody to “never work a job like that in your life!” (Experience has been a very wise teacher.)
Work and Joy. Can the two co-exist? Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 says, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”
A person can find satisfaction in the job itself. My friend, a missionary to Africa, is one such person (though I believe “ministry” jobs are not necessarily the only jobs that can bring such fulfillment). Satisfaction is found in the duties of the job–how it contributes to society, if you’re directly or indirectly providing a service that makes lives easier or better.
If a person can’t see how their job contributes directly to society, satisfaction can come from the end results of the job: if the bills are paid, food is on the table, the family or individual is provided for, or the employee gains freedom and autonomy from parents.
One’s perspective is completely dependent on his or her faith in the ultimate provider: God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” He promises, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11). Our hope and future are inseparably apart of finding the joy and satisfaction in the work He wishes us to have.
Furthermore, if we believe the truth that God has given “some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11-12), then it should come as no surprise that some find joy in being teachers, while others do not. God’s appointing of gifts in our lives is a very important issue in seeking direction–whether it is work-related or not.
The psalmist wrote, “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us.” (Psalm 90:17) In At The Crossroads, author and music producer Charlie Peacock writes, “The psalmist understands that it is God who inspires the work of hands that serve him and that it is God who has the power to give the work eternal significance.”
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