Reflecting on Work
I recentlychanged jobs. I left the job that I had had since college and set out to do something else in the same field. The change was something I had been contemplating for a number of months before I finally actively pursued it. This decision was precipitated by several factors: a desire to try something different, the hope of diversifying my resume by gaining new experience, and a growing dissatisfaction with the job I currently had.
In the few weeks since I began the new job, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve begun to dig into this dissatisfaction that I felt. (This is not to say that I regret the decision I made to leave, only that I have a fresh perspective from which to view my previous employment.) Ultimately I think my dissatisfaction came down to compensation and the sense that management portrayed an attitude that their company was the best in the world for which to work and all employees are fortunate to have such an opportunity, when in fact I doubted this was the case. For some reason that rubbed me the wrong way.
Now before I begin to critique the attitude of my heart during that latter stages of my employment at that company, let me just say that I think these are legitimate reasons for seeking another job. But as I examined myself, I found that my dissatisfaction was growing disproportionately large. My attitude suffered from a lack of perspective—both biblically and socially. We know the Bible commands us to “be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). My dissatisfaction had grown to discontentment. I lost sight of the fact that I was blessed to have a job at all, particularly during a time of high unemployment when many of fellow citizens would be grateful to have any job. The job itself was a gift from God, a gift I suddenly felt I was better than. Pride was manifesting itself and stealing the glory that God was due. Work is a good thing, established by God at creation (Genesis 2:15). At the fall it became more difficult and less enjoyable (Genesis 4:12), but it didn’t cease to be a good thing.
As I reflect on work, that attitude I’ve had towards it, and the one I ought to have, I’m drawn to Colossians 3. In verses 22-24 Paul says, “Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” In this passage Paul is addressing slaves. Although sometimes we feel like our bosses are treating us as such, we are employed by our own free choice and compensated for our work (even unpaid interns are receiving some benefit for their employment). And if Paul commands slaves to “work heartily, as for the Lord,” how much more should we embrace this attitude? It’s a perspective that I know I’ll struggle with, but by the grace of God I’ll strive to maintain it.