It’s 4:45 a.m. on Monday. I bang the button on my alarm clock to stop its incessant shriek. I sit up, drop my feet to the floor, and have my first real thought of the day. And what is that thought? “Yes, it’s Monday, I get to go to work.”
No, really. That truly is my first thought. Not just on some Monday mornings, but every Monday morning. This, in large part, is because of my perspective on work. I believe that work has dignity. I believe a job is more than just a job, it’s a calling. I believe that work connects us to and with God’s creative power.
I believe that humanity was created to work. Thus, I believe that our work, regardless of what it is or where it is carried out, evinces our dignity as human beings. I believe that all work has dignity, and thus dignifies. Not just certain types of work, but all work that is legal, ethical, and moral (yes – I mean all three together). It matters not if your work is conducted indoors, outdoors, on a floor, behind a desk, in a field, on the water, or in a vehicle. It matters not if your work produces something tangible or intangible. It matters not if you are an employee or an employer, a boss or an underling. It matters not if you are a high-paid, low-paid, salaried, hourly, or commissioned worker. Oh, and by the way, it matters not whether your work is “secular” or “spiritual.”
Understanding that all work, no matter what it is or what it pays, imparts dignity can, and should, be freeing. It will free you to pursue work for which you have a passion, for work that you can actually excel in. It will free you from looking down your nose at any type of work. It will free you from feeling inferior about your own work, or being envious of someone else’s.
WORK IS A CALLING
A lot of people refer to their job or profession as their “vocation.” But is it really? You see, the word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “Vocare,” which means “to call.” In order for our jobs to truly be our vocations, someone must call us to the job, and we must do the job for the caller rather than ourselves. If we will take this perspective, we can reimagine our job, regardless of what it is, as something bigger than ourselves.
If you view your work as a calling, it will give you fulfilling passion for our work. I know a lot of people who are passionate about their work, but are not fulfilled. This is because their passion isn’t driven by their belief that their job is their calling. Rather, it is driven by fear of failure, an all-consuming need for success, or the selfish need to satisfy lustful desires and interests. This, in the end, leads to emptiness. When, however, we believe we are called to the work that we do, we can be selflessly passionate. We can understand that we work not for ourselves, but for something (or Someone) bigger than us. Thus, we need not fear failure; we need not be consumed by success; our selfish desires diminish.
Viewing your work as a calling can also make it less stressful. Psychological research has shown that people who view their work as being something bigger than themselves, as contributing to something beyond just a bottom line, as being more than just a means to a paycheck, cope with stress significantly better than others. This, I believe, is because they are not so focused on themselves – their own wants and needs – but on the needs of others.
People who make a practice of selflessly serving others know the joy and fulfillment that accompanies their service. They experience the true passion and freedom that comes from selflessness. This passion, this freedom, this joy and fulfillment can be experienced each day at work when you view your work as your calling.
WORK CONNECTS US WITH OUR CREATOR
Humanity is created in God’s image. Of all of creation, it is only humans that are given a specific job – to subdue and have dominion; to be fruitful and multiply. Humanity stands in God’s stead and exercises dominion over His creation. Through our work, we cooperate with God in cultivating, building, and caring for creation. What great responsibility!
Each and every one of us is blessed with gifts and abilities. What this means is that all human work has value – regardless of the spiritual state of the worker. This also means that through our work we participate with God in cultivating His creation. That is, God works through us, and the work that we do, to sustain His creation. What great satisfaction!
You cannot participate or cooperate with someone, without also connecting with that someone. When you understand the participative and cooperative role your work has with God, you will inexorably connect with God. What great fulfillment!
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE
If you dread Monday mornings, I honestly feel sorry for you. But there is a cure. Take on a fresh perspective of your job and on your work – that your work has dignity, that your job is your calling, that your work connects you to God. You will find that your job and your work are not things that you dread, rather things that you cherish, that you continually develop, and that you enjoy.