Why do you drag yourself out of bed five or six (or seven) days a week, rush to get ready, and go to work? Why do you brave the weather, fight the traffic, jockey for a parking space, and walk into that office every day? Why do you wade through an overflowing email inbox, shuffle stacks of reports, and sort endless voice messages? Why do you smile at that person who never smiles back, congratulate the coworker who stole credit for your project, and endure the breakroom gossip? Do you have those days where you really wonder why?
Recently, when scanning the list of search terms that have led people to our blog, I noticed that someone had searched “work is a necessary evel [sic].” (Yes, that person misspelled evil.) I don’t know what the motivations were for that search. It could have been an expression of personal belief. Or, it could have been a search to understand what other people believe. I don’t really know. However, it made me pause to wonder why some people think that. I asked myself, “On my worst days, do I think work is a necessary evil?” Honestly, as frustrating as work can be occasionally, I do not feel work is evil.
On the contrary, I see work as a blessing. One of my core beliefs is that God has very intentionally equipped each one of us with a unique mix of talents, abilities, and interests. Those personal qualities, when combined and leveraged as strategically as possible, will yield two very important outcomes in life:
- First, the person who strategically leverages their talents, abilities, and interests in performing work is worshipping and glorifying God. I believe—no, I know—that it is very pleasing to Him to see His creation (you!) doing exactly what it was designed to do. Imagine a 19th century watchmaker who has toiled over the design and creation of a watch for hundreds of hours. Imagine his joy when he sees that precision instrument being used by a train conductor to keep a fully loaded train on schedule to deliver supplies and people to destinations all over the country.
- Second, the person who strategically leverages their talents, abilities, and interests in performing work will experience a higher levels of satisfaction and fulfillment in life. I spent the first 15 years of my working life not strategically leveraging how God designed me. I was miserable at times (ask my wife!). After discovering more about how God designed me, and making a drastic career shift, I have been happier and more fulfilled and able to accomplish more for others.
One of my favorite scripture passages about work (and there are many) is, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29, ESV). People who are skillful in their work are leveraging what God designed in them. Yes, it is possible to become skilled at something you weren’t designed to do. That doesn’t usually last long though. It is a draining experience for the person. (I know. I was skillful at what I used to do, but it drained me and I eventually came to the point that I couldn’t drive myself to do it any longer.)
People who are skillful at their work and using God-given talents, have a joy for their work. They seem to have endless energy for what they do. The inspire others with their work. This is why such people “stand before kings.”
What about you? Are you putting to use what God made in you? Are you leveraging the talents, abilities, and interest He wrote into your being? Do you know what they are?
If you find yourself being drained by work, if you tend to feel that work is a necessary evil, then you are not likely putting to work God’s design in you. I’d like to hear from you if that’s the case. I think I can help you with this. It’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most because of my own story.
Work is a blessing. “Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19, NASB)