More than 3 million people applied for unemployment in the last week due to the shutdown of businesses in the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being newly out of work, at least temporarily, may have given some a new appreciation of their jobs. If you’ve been lucky enough to stay employed, all the changes in society will certainly have brought a lot of changes to your livelihood. This new reality may change the response of some to Tommy Newberry’s topic for Day 24 of A 40-Day Journey to Joy, which is finding joy on the job.
He asks, “Can you imagine that God wants you to live with joy, but merely tolerate what you do for a living? Do you believe God wants his children to be bored and miserable for half of their waking hours?” Of course, the answer is no, but why is it so often the case? As he always does, Newberry explains this as a function of our thinking.
Work was created by God as a good thing and work existed prior to the fall (Genesis 2:15). It was never intended to be a punishment or a “necessary evil.” Today’s lesson encourages us to think of our jobs as a ministry, a platform for spiritual growth, and a significant stewardship opportunity. We are told that by committing our work to God and ourselves to excellence that we can gain immense pleasure and satisfaction. This is true for everyone, even in times of unemployment, because we always have work to do and people to serve.
Newberry purports that God loves excellence, prudence, and productivity and gives a list of 10 verses to illustrate this point (Proverbs 14:23, Ecclesiastes 9:10, 2 Corinthians 10:31, Proverbs 16: 3, Ephesians 4:28, Proverbs 26:15, Proverbs 26:15, Proverbs 22:29, Proverbs 21:5, Proverbs 20:13, and Proverbs 21:25). He left Colossians 3:23 (GNT) off the list, but this scripture certainly urges workers to give their very best, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.”
The key to more abundant joy in work is to go the second mile and do more than the minimum. This applies to your walk with God, your marriage, your health, your career, and all areas of your life. Newberry points out that doing more than you are paid to do is the fastest way to be paid more in the future. No matter what kind of work you do, you are serving people and when you dedicate this service to the Lord, it becomes spiritual work.
This time of upset in our professional lives is a good time to take stock of how we can serve God better through our jobs. Today’s lesson states that in everything we should work as if God were our boss because this is always the case. How you do your work reveals your commitment to serve him in a real way. This is the time to uncover the joy in your work if you haven’t already found it. Newberry suggests it may only be a quick attitude adjustment away. You either discover the joy or create it. This new landscape of employment might be the perfect time to think about making a change to something that you can put your whole heart into.
The assignment for Day 24 is to consider four ways you could add more value to the people you work for, whether that is your employer or your customer. Indicate the first step you would take for each of the four ways you come up with. To go further with this exercise, for the next eight days it is suggested that you emphasize the spiritual side of your work life. Rededicate your efforts to the Lord and recommit to excellence in all you do. Refuse to go through the motions.
My full time job is working with cancer patients to help them find resources, including health insurance. It’s no stretch for me to think of this as a ministry because these folks and their families are dealing with life and death situations. Their emotions are often raw. They don’t know where else to turn. It’s a challenge, though, when dealing with these realities every day not to become hardened to them; to remember to pray for them, and to serve the whole person rather than the immediate physical need. I keep a note on my computer monitor that reminds me, “I shine God’s love and hope into the lives of others.”
Do you believe your job has a spiritual side?