Everyone wants to be happy in their job – to find work they enjoy and enjoy working with their colleagues. People want to be proud of where they work and they want their work to be meaningful and purposeful. In thinking about this topic, I’ve concluded there are five things that you must do in order to be happy at work:
Be True to God’s Call on Your Life
What is God’s call on your life – aside from His call on every Christian’s life to be holy and conformed to the image of His Son – what is His specific call on your life? Know you call and ensure that your build your life structure around that call. If you’re unsure about your call, then this is the first place to start. Working in a job that conflicts with God’s call on your life will result in perpetual, internal conflict within yourself. You’ll never be happy. Remember Jonah? He wasn’t happy until he fulfilled God’s call on his life (and even then, he thought God was wrong to have extended grace to those in Nineveh, but that’s a topic for another day).
Be True to Your Gifts and Talents
If you’re really creative, getting a job as a bookkeeper will likely drive you crazy. Work from your gifts and talents – don’t work against them. God has created you the way you are – embrace it and develop those gifts and talents for His glory and honor. People always enjoy working in areas that allow them to express their gifts and talents, so pay attention to this.
Be True to Your Passions
You might be in a job where your gifts and talents are being used, but your passion(s) are either mis-aligned with the organization’s purpose or your passions are being dampened by your employer in some way. In an ideal world, you’ll be able to find work in which your passions can be complimentary to your gifts and talents. For example, if you love working with numbers in an accounting system and your passionate about helping abused children, then working as a Controller for a non-profit that serves abused children will your gifts, talents and passions. If you don’t have this, then ask the Lord to open up work in which you can express all three in one setting.
Note that it’s not unusual to have a full-time job that you like (or a couple of part-time jobs in today’s part-time economy) but you find your fullest expression of who God has made you to be in a volunteer position. In this scenario, your full-time job will be more bearable because you have something more enjoyable to look forward to – your volunteer position in which you can work from your strengths toward a cause you’re passionate about.
Be True to Your Values
Never work a job where you’re asked to violate your values. Doing so will crush any enjoyment or happiness you have in your job. If your employer is asking you to violate your values – take that to prayer. It may be that God is calling you elsewhere. But even if He isn’t, don’t violate your values. It’s not worth it. Life is too short.
Be True to Your Employer and Colleagues
Nothing will kill enjoyment of your work faster than if you find yourself criticizing, marginalizing or complaining about your employer or co-workers. If you don’t like who you work for, then go work somewhere else. If your colleagues are toxic, then read Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. Some relationships should be ended and sometimes it’s an act of discipleship to end those relationships. I’ve met numerous people who stayed with an employer they didn’t like because of their compensation benefits. Personally, I don’t think the money is worth it. But of course, this is up to you.
Two Other Advice
First, your employer will probably criticize your work performance at some point in time. Just count on it. When they do, you should take it to prayer with two foci:
- Is your employer right?
- Have you sinned in some way?
Sometimes, employers are spot on in their criticism – but sometimes, they are off-base. It’s helpful to hear from the Lord what He thinks of your job performance. Listen to the Lord – it could be very helpful to your professional growth. And if God points out sin in your life, then confess it and move on.
A Word to Employers
If you deliver criticism out of anything but love for your employees, it’s going to come across negative in some form or fashion and is not likely to produce the work performance you’re after. Bear this in mind when you need to deliver performance criticism. Are you angry with them? Is what you’re saying going to help them grow professionally and personally? Or is what you’re saying accurate, but the way you’re saying it is going to create conflict? You need to go before the Lord too – before you deliver criticism – and ensure that you’re doing it in the right spirit so that the right words flow out of your mouth.