It’s six o’clock and the alarm rings. You jump out of bed excitedly, full of anticipation, as you prepare for another exciting day at the office. You are passionate about your work, it energises you, and you enjoy all the challenges it brings your way. How we all wish this were our story. No matter how far away this daydream seems, it may be easier to achieve than you think.
There are some simple things that you can do to transform your world of work and therefore your life. A healthy regard for internal meaning, working in the area of our God-given strengths, having a great attitude and applying a pinch of wisdom are all very important.
Most of us are fooled into believing that getting the next big thing is the answer to our happiness and yet studies show it’s not about the external stuff, but rather the internal balance and approach that we develop. Too easily these days we get caught up with the external trappings of life. We focus on climbing the corporate ladder, accumulating material possessions and being successful as the world measures success. We lose perspective and attempt a misguided reach for happiness. Instead, we should rather focus on the issues that can positively influence our satisfaction with life-giving us a sense of purpose and meaning. Understanding God’s purpose for your life gives you the “why” I am doing this. It creates your internal motivation, the inner knowledge that you are part of something bigger than yourself that deserves your commitment and your best efforts.
God’s purpose for your life can be made up of several layers, just like the layers of an onion. Each layer contributes to the whole. Each layer can be represented by one of your many roles such as being a parent, spouse, church congregant, community member, employee or business owner. God’s overarching purpose for your life is at the centre of all of these layers. We are reminded in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (New Living Translation)
People who are happy at work usually enjoy what they are doing because they are working in the area of their strengths, i.e. what you are naturally good at. Using your strengths is like writing with your right hand; it is easy and natural to do – if you are right-handed. If you attempt to write with your left hand, you can do it, but it is untidy, difficult and tiring. Gallup research shows “People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job and three times more likely to be happier with their lives in general.” They also tend to have a much higher stress threshold and a greater capacity to work.
The Bible gives us direction on this subject. In Romans 12, Paul is clear that we each have strengths or grace gifts, and that we should use or exercise the ones we are blessed with.
Years ago, Zig Ziglar declared, “It is your attitude, more than your aptitude, that will determine your altitude”. There is a lot of truth in this saying, and being able to muster the will to keep going and be positive during tough times certainly demonstrates strength of character. Philippians 4:4 and 6 say that we “should rejoice in the Lord always” and “not be anxious about anything”. While you may not feel like rejoicing and there are many things you can worry about, it is an intentional choice you need to make to be different and buck the poor attitude trend that we so often see around us. You need to choose your attitude daily as you head out to work. I find that connecting with God first thing in the morning, will always help me to positively adjust the lens through which I am about to view the new day. Philippians 4:6 “…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV). Your attitude determines how you view and engage with the world and, it is my experience, that a great attitude always lifts your spirit and the spirits of the people around you. You cannot determine how the day, or the people you encounter, will treat you but you can determine, through Christ, how you will respond. It is your choice!
I am reminded of Col 3:23 “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for human masters.” (New International Version)