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Have you ever looked around your workplace and wondered, What am I doing here?
It's a question we should all ask from time to time. Understanding why you work is crucial for setting priorities and goals. It also happens to be a great motivator for those times when work feels especially like work.
Whenever I'm struggling with how to approach my work, there are two key truths about work that I always come back to.
God Created Us to Work
Remember that feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment you get when you've worked hard at something and know that you've done well? That feeling is a reflection of God's perfect design. God himself made us with work in mind. Genesis 2:15 tells us that from the very beginning, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (NIV). And what's more, we're instructed not only to do the work before us, but to do it wholeheartedly and with joy:
• "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV).
• Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ" (Colossians 3:23–24).
• "So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work" (Ecclesiastes 3:22).
Serve God in Your Work
Yes, most of us work for companies that were created to make money. And yes, you probably earn money at work. Obviously there are some practical financial realities at play; many people would say that they have to work in order to pay bills or support family. While money might make work necessary, money alone cannot give you purpose. It certainly cannot motivate you to be your best.
The real reason we work is to serve God and to honor God's design for our lives. Things in your professional life will never work out perfectly. They just won't. So if your sole focus is to earn more money or get to the top, then your professional failures and missteps will leave you feeling empty and frustrated. But if your focus is on serving God, you have the freedom to go full out toward the goal and to view the bumps in your professional life as opportunities. In Paul's words, we are to "run" with a focus on winning a divine prize, not an earthly one (1 Corinthians 9:24–27).
So next time you wonder, Why am I working? or your job feels more frustrating than fulfilling, zero in on these truths. Find motivation to keep going with a focus on the Lord. You may be surprised what a difference it can make!
Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.