In my last blogI discussed how meaningful work enhances our self-esteem. We feel better about ourselves after a hard day’s work. A more significant benefit is that God uses our jobs to develop our character. Our work serves not just to make us happy, but to make us holy.
An old adage says if you find something you love to do, you won’t have to work another day in your life. A few people love everything about their job. They can’t believe they get paid for doing what they enjoy so much. However, that’s rare.
Most of us who say we like our jobs will admit there are unpleasant aspects. For example, I liked being a minister. I enjoyed studying, teaching, preaching, making hospital calls, interacting with people, and casting a vision.
However, there were some duties that I did not enjoy. Administrative responsibilities, fund-raising, responding to criticism, and gut-wrenching funerals weren’t much fun.
Recent surveys suggest up to 80 percent of people are unhappy with their jobs and would quit if they could. My dad worked for 40 years on an assembly line; he couldn’t wait to retire. He didn’t work for fulfillment, but to provide food for his family.
My initial response is to feel sorry for such people. I think how sad and that they should find something they enjoy or are gifted to do. But sometimes that’s not possible or practical.
Search for perfection
There are few perfect jobs. Almost every occupation has tedious, unpleasant roles. That’s why it’s called work! Yet, it’s often the distasteful parts that God often uses to enhance our integrity and develop the fruit of the Spirit in us.
That irksome patient, demanding supervisor, or irritating co-worker may be “heavenly sandpaper” that God uses to smooth out our rough edges. He’s polishing and developing us for future service.
I recently made a list of the jobs I had before entering the ministry, like picking elderberries and baling hay for our neighbors. My first full-time job: hoeing weeds at a nursery for 80 cents an hour.
I worked my way through college, starting my freshman year with the campus maintenance crew. One summer I worked at a foundry that made brake shoes for trains. The following summer I worked at a pickle factory and then as a playground supervisor.
All these jobs strengthened my character and taught me a work ethic. I learned where my gifts were and became familiar with what went on in the marketplace. You could say that putting up hay motivated me to go into ministry. I knew I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life!
Working in a foundry also gave me an appreciation for Christians who have trouble controlling their language. I quickly learned how many creative ways the “F” word was used.
Though initially appalled, after two weeks I got used to hearing it. After four weeks, I discovered that foul word would occasionally pop into my mind; I had to discipline myself to avoid hearing it pop out of my mouth.
That rough environment later made me more patient with church members who struggled with disciplining their speech because of what they heard every day at work.
All jobs, especially tough ones, help develop our character and prepare us for effectiveness in God’s service.
Maybe that’s why so many of God’s servants in the Bible were called when they were working. David and Moses were tending sheep, Amos was picking figs, Gideon was threshing wheat, and James and John were fishing. Work developed their character and prepared them for their contribution to God’s kingdom.
Deepening your soul
If you get discouraged about your job, and are always pining for something different, remember that God uses difficult work to deepen your soul.
Perhaps God has you exactly where He wants you, and He’s refining you for a significant role in the future. Even unpleasant work strengthens our moral fiber if we allow it.
Photo source: istock
Bob Russell / At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members became one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend in 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches & conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups.