Many in the workplace today have boring or unfulfilling jobs. I hear this from friends and family members, and those I sit with as spiritual director or mentor. When a job is either missing, and one is left unemployed, or work is simply ungratifying, either condition can lead a person into a state of sadness or depression. This is difficult to handle and can often lead to lethargy or despondency about the way forward. And, for those around such a person, it can be strenuous to know how best to encourage or uplift them.
Satisfaction in one’s work is the goal for all employers and employees. Thankfully, my own personal track record has been on the plus side of gratification for more than three decades of service in several roles but only in a small handful of organizations. Having a deep sense of satisfaction that one’s work matters to God and to others is life giving and sustaining. When that fulfillment is deeply planted in one’s heart and mind, it’s contagious to all who surround them.
What is your level of satisfaction with your work today? If you consider the number “0” as neutral, and -5 to be deeply dissatisfied, with +5 to be deeply satisfied, where are you on that continuum from -5 to +5? Be honest with yourself. Be genuine with God. Can you also be authentic toward a friend or family member?
Sharing your level of satisfaction with your work can lead you out of a funk of disappointment and into a flurry of delight. Identifying the places where your satisfaction could be enhanced is a starting point to deeper fulfillment and gratification. Looking around at your work and determining places where you can be more focused, effective, creative, and yes, even more satisfied can bring you into setting objectives for yourself that will lead you forward. Sometimes just taking an hour to de-clutter your desk or revisit your to do list or try a new skill is a great step toward that goal.
No matter what the external conditions may be, what makes work most satisfying is when you know that God is walking with you, is there beside you and working from within you, and longs to be your constantly noticed companion in all aspects of your work. Can you see how God is coming to your aid in a time of testing or challenge at work? Are you calling upon God’s wisdom and strength to be the center of your decision making? Do you see first hand how God has created you, gifted you, called you and empowered you to serve him in your workplace even today?
The greatest, highest and deepest form of satisfaction with our work comes from God, not our employer. Hearing God whisper our name, lavish love upon us, and delight in us is the best of all satisfaction. Listen upward and inward today to the voice of the Master and may you hear with clarity God’s “well done, good and faithful steward.” Sharing in the Master’s happiness is when our work outward toward others matters the most!
If given the choice, what would be your preference: working in an organization that puts tasks to be accomplished ahead of building quality relationships, or one that places the building of relationships as priority over the fulfillment of responsibilities? It’s an easy question to answer for me: definitely the one that puts quality relationships over task fulfillment. I’ve been in both settings over the years and have seen both the stark contrast between the two and the benefits of a relationship first approach.
The contrast can be summarized in one word: culture. A workplace culture that places task over relationship treats individuals mechanistically, as employees who are hired to accomplish a given task or function. As s/he fulfills their stated job description, their contribution is combined with others on the team to complete the larger mission. Instead of a team, this person is a part of a work force or task group with defined outcomes and specified timetable. In addition, the culture of such an organization stresses achievement of goals as the most important measurement.
When a workplace culture stresses the development of quality relationships more than the task at hand, then individuals are cared for and cared about beyond the functional role they play on the team. And, it certainly is a place where team development and health is stressed, where each person matters greatly to the completion of the mission. When team members are listened to beyond their stated job responsibility and treated like human beings rather than human doings, then their allegiance to the various members of the team includes both their shared tasks as well as their community relationships.
Every leader has a fundamental choice to make in this regard: what will be our organization’s priority, task or relationship? Both task and relationship can and should be attended to, but the tipping of the scale one direction or another is what makes for greater health and strength, agility and creativity, achievement and sense of fulfilled accomplishment. What is your choice today, both as a member of and/or a leader of a team? Having just returned from a 3-day trip with my closest colleague and friend, I’m remembering first and foremost our informal times together when we shared our personal stories, laughed together during meals, prayed, encouraged, listened and spurred one another on toward greater love and service…the quality of our trusting friendship continues to significantly impact our faithfulness and effectiveness in service to others.
What is your choice today? Will task continually trump relationship or will building quality relationships come first?
In the season of Pentecost the church commemorates the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send “Another Companion” who will be with us forever. That Companion is the Holy Spirit, the One who surprised the disciples fifty days post-resurrection with a time of renewal through a fresh outpouring of love. The Spirit came upon the people with incredible power, which threw the crowds into bewilderment.
When Peter spoke to them about what was happening, he quoted the prophet Joel and the psalmist king David…two reputable voices who had a status they would respect. An even more powerful witness than their words were the actions that transpired thereafter…devotion to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, wonders and signs, unity, generosity, and all with glad and sincere hearts (cf. Acts 2: 42-47).
As Christians in the workplace, are we fully aware of the Companion by our side, residing within us, and working through us today? Jesus’ promise undoubtedly was for his disciples, and the fulfillment thereof was for the birthing of his Church. But, his fulfilled promise is also for disciples today – yes, you and me.
So, what does that mean for us in our work today? Well, for starters, it certainly means that the Holy Spirit is desirous of bringing about renewal in our hearts, which is evidenced in our inner personhood and then joyfully expressed in our exterior actions. We don’t simply know the Companion of our souls in our times of personal and corporate worship, but also in our day to day environments as well. The Spirit wants to release his presence, power, and peace through you today. His unique empowerment is for all believers every moment of each new day. Imagine how different your work day would be if you not only believed and acknowledged this reality but open-heartedly invited and depended upon that transformative truth!
Are you desirous of such favor, blessing, unity, and joy as a child of God? Trust the Companion to fill you with the empowering presence of the Spirit who makes your life with God and others come fully alive, for that’s the only way authentic transformation will occur.
In all my years of ministry life, I’ve gained the most learning from the
tougher experiences that invite me to discover new insights about myself
and others. As one of my previous supervisors said to me, “If this
person/situation weren’t in your life today, how would you be growing?”
The greatest growth occurs when I’m willing to be held accountable for my
efforts and attitudes in a safe environment of accountable evaluation. The
more open I remain, the more I learn…it’s really that simple. The same
is true for me as a leader: holding others accountable and offering
helpful assessment is always an opportunity for growth.
But, what I’ve also discovered throughout my working years is that most
people don’t generally invite, welcome or appreciate accountability or
assessment. It somehow has this aura of being “threatening” as if one was
going to be inappropriately exposed, evaluated, and/or exhorted for things
done or left undone. The encouraging part of accountability and assessment
has been overshadowed by what feels harsh or burdensome.
However, it certainly doesn’t need to be threatening or treated
defensively. Instead, when held in proper perspective and treated with
healthy balance, both accountability and assessment can indeed become one
of the worker’s best friends. After all, when done in a spirit of generous
love and sincere gratefulness, these can be some of the greatest gifts of
In recent weeks there have been reports of a certain Christian celebrity
who’s been incredibly threatened by what he calls the sin of gossip, but
what his past and current employees are calling outright abuse of power -
on his part. Ranting to his staff about how gossip is being shared
recklessly on social media in a recent meeting, even using one of his gun
collection as an illustration of gossip’s power to destroy reputation, has
created a culture of fear. There is no longer any sense of security or
appreciation in that work setting…it will be interesting to watch what
transpires in the coming months as this unravels. And, far be it from me
to gossip about who this might be!
What is your attitude toward both accountability and assessment? Do you
personally see it as important to your maturity as well as the growth of
those around you? If so, then I invite you to consider offering and
receiving both. With a spirit of openness and a listening ear to learn and
grow as a Christian and as a worker, you will inevitably please and honor
God in all of your daily endeavors.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance
from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col.
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