Does work itself hold meaning? Is there inherent value in any work/job, whether it is connected to passion or not? Our Creator reminds us that we can do whatever we do in a way that reflects His purposes and intentions for this world. We can work willingly at whatever we do as though we were working for a higher purpose, rather than just for people or personal fulfillment (see Colossians 3:23).
What might that higher purpose be? And how would it show up in a job that isn’t our first choice? Alternatively, how would it transform a job/career we have that we currently love? Many books have been written about finding purpose in our work, and I recommend Timothy Keller’s book: Every Good Endeavor; Penguin Books; 2012, to start. But allow me to concentrate my answer into a single concept most of us are familiar with: The Golden Rule. It’s quite a universal concept and was taught by Jesus Christ when He said that the essence of everything God was revealing about his intentions for the world could be summed up in the teaching to “do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12)
Applying this to the work experience, how then can you:
- treat others with dignity
- demonstrate diligence and integrity in how you accomplish your tasks
- create a result, a product, a culture that you are proud of
- contribute to an environment that is respectful, honouring, and empowering
These ‘ways and means’ are the Higher Purpose that takes us out of ourselves to transform workplaces, lives, products and innovations.
Let’s free ourselves (and others) from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves or secure our identity through our work. The good news of God is that you are already proven as worthy and are secure in His affirmation of your worth. Let’s also free ourselves (and others) from a condescending attitude toward ‘less sophisticated’ careers or envy over whatever we consider more ‘valuable’ work.
Who we are is not defined by our work. However, we can define our work by who we are.