Job, Career, or Calling

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:22-24)

Last week, we saw how Scripture instructs us to honor and respect our employers, even when we hate our jobs. One of the ways we do that is by obeying the biblical command to work hard and with excellence. In Colossians 3:23, Paul says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Here, Paul is reminding us that even when we are dissatisfied with our jobs, bosses, or employers, we are to work with everything we’ve got. Why? Because ultimately, we aren’t working for our “human masters”—we are working for the Lord who provided our job in the first place.

Hard work is a God-honoring response to a job you don’t love, which makes it good in-and-of-itself. But a growing body of academic research suggests that there’s another reason to “work…with all your heart” at a job you don’t love today. It turns out that sticking with a difficult job can be the very thing God uses to change your work from something you loathe or merely tolerate into a job you truly love.

Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski has spent her career researching what makes people love their jobs. In one of her studies, Wrzesniewski asked a group of administrative assistants (a role few people would call a “dream job”) to describe their work as a “job, a career, or a calling.” To her surprise, “the strongest predictor of an assistant seeing [their] work as a calling was the number of years spent on the job.” In other words, the assistants who grew to love their jobs were “those who [had] been around long enough to become good at what they do.”

I doubt many of these assistants started out loving their jobs. But, consciously or not, as they obeyed the biblical command to work hard, they achieved mastery of their craft and grew to describe their work as their “calling” in life. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to respond to a difficult job in the same way. Or maybe He is calling you to different work that would allow you to better reveal His character and serve others. It is that final response to difficult jobs that we will turn to next week.


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