How to Find Meaning in a Job You Hate

Right out of college, I had a job I detested and wanted to strangle.

Sound extreme? Perhaps, but this is how I felt. I was so angry about the job because it felt like it was suffocating me. It was taking the life right out of me.

Like a groundhog, I moved with the masses of social etiquette—in by 8, out by 5:30.  Work clothes on, work clothes off. Smile on, smile off.

I learned the norms: “You better say hi to _____.” “Be sure not to wear those shoes.” “Don’t ever leave before 5.”

A Noose I Couldn’t Shake

For a while, work seemed like a noose that always tightened around my neck. It stifled my internal creativity and motivation by the mere fact that it was full of regulations and restrictions. 

I never felt like I was really known in my work environment, I was just constrained.

I found myself wondering: Does God even care about the profitability and earnings of corporate America? Does He care about office politics?

No wonder so many of these things left me empty.

If it wasn’t for the free coffee, I might have found my way out the door sooner, but God had a lesson in store that changed my heart.

God’s Water Cooler Talk

The truth is, you don’t need to have the perfect environment to live out God’s perfect purpose. You don’t have to be free of a micro-managing boss to be happy. While you’re not obligated to stay in a toxic work environment, God has told us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).

God needs workers in the mission field of hated work environments. Yes, it may feel like persecution, but these warriors for Christ will not be forgotten. Some of God’s best work is done in the seeking hearts of miserable people.

What if I could see my workplace not as a ground of obligation to pay my bills, but instead as a starting point to God’s purpose? What might He do? Certainly, He has allowed me to be in this place, at this time for His purpose. 

God’s Holy Ground is Your Working Ground

The reality is, our conditions may not change, our pay may not change, our boss may not change—but when our perspective changes, suddenly purpose surfaces. We can see that we aren’t just working for performance reviews but we are working for the greatest bonus that was ever given—an eternal inheritance. 

That is true office power. It frees our spirit from being reliant on others and it pushes our performance to new heights. 

Truly, Christians should be the best employees. We should shine so brightly because all we can see is our great God in our sight. It’s not any of them that we work for—it’s the one who died for us, cried for us and walked a mile for us with a backbreaking cross on His back. That’s who we work for.

Sure, it may take a little “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6) to get through. But, make no mistake, God will change your view of your cubicle if you just see it through these eyes.

See Also

Suddenly your boss, who never gives you one head nod of approval, will be seen for who they are—a person just as in need of affirmation as you.

The co-worker who is always on the phone at work will be a fresh calling as you know her lunchtime whispers to her doctor about her condition.

The response to your stalled promotion will be love and patience that is noticed as an act of God.

The irritation at your commute will be a time of humble pursuit of God’s calling for the day.

Seeing Bigger and Better

Your eyes will walk into work with expectancy and not hesitancy. God drives your heart in His power as you seek Him regarding the place you can’t stand.

He makes you seek Him and because of your work, you become a better person. You become a person who is humble with others, with family and friends. You start to see things you missed when you were focused on me, myself and I. Your heart sees God’s purpose unfold in what you thought you hated and in the things that you love. You persevere where you may have been inclined to break. You wait where you might have bulldozed. You seek wisdom where you may have moved ahead blindly.

God transforms you and propels you in His ways.

Work becomes your best working ground, a working ground for God—and best of all, you are getting paid for it.

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