Christian Articles Archive

Meaning in the Workplace

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Fritz Maytag wrote in the Harvard Business Review, "If you ask people confidentially what they want most in their job--if they're paid anything decent at all--they will say they want a greater sense of self-worth."

A few weeks ago the men at our church shared what they liked most about their jobs. One, a manufacturing trouble shooter at Hewlett-Packard, said the opportunity of surmounting challenges was what he liked. Another was attracted to the satisfaction in solving the variety of problems encountered in computer maintenance. A third was motivated by the pride of being able to do quality work consistently. But one said, "I hate my job." What about your job motivates you? Perhaps you feel good about doing something worthwhile, significant, that helps make the world a different and better place. Perhaps you feel good about doing your work competently and effectively. Security, acceptance, approval, or challenge may make work meaningful for you. But then again, just thinking about what your job could be makes you hate it all the more.

Here's where Jesus comes in. He's often the missing factor in our motivation. I used to court my wife over jigsaw puzzles bought for 50 cents at the thrift store. Take my word for it: there's nothing more frustrating than putting together a 500-piece puzzle and finding that three pieces are missing. It just doesn't look complete! Since God created us, it makes sense that we won't find real fulfillment unless He has an integral part in our lives. We should no more try to live our lives without a close relationship with Jesus than we would try to drive a car with a missing transmission.

Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher said, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in every human heart." Augustine that observed, "The heart is restless until it finds its rest in You." Maybe He is missing from the center of your life. No wonder you struggle for meaning. When you find meaning at the core of your existence, then meaning flows to your work, your marriage, your community.

I'd like to challenge you. Invite Jesus into your work in this new year. Pray this prayer if it fits you: "Lord, since I need to spend the next thirty years or so working, please help me to find some satisfaction in it. Please come into my situation and bring meaning to what I do." Then stand back and watch.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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