I always told myself I wouldn’t end up with a desk job. But woe is me, I have a desk job.
Contrary to popular belief, having a desk job isn’t so bad. I was recently hired to be a business analyst (in which I had no previous experience) at a multi-million dollar tech company (which I was not qualified for), spending 40 hours a week sitting at a desk (a posture I didn’t picture myself being in outside the classroom). I drink coffee everyday at 9:30, and I drink it black. And all-in-all, I’ve been extremely blessed. I work with wonderful people: creative and intelligent co-workers, humble and gracious supervisors, and insightful and thoughtful executive leadership. My work isn’t always fun, but it’s more exciting than stressful and more dynamic than morose; and it allows me to be creative in finding viable business solutions that can potentially help a lot of people. I enjoy my job for the most part as well as the people I see and share life with everyday.
Now before this begins to sound like an overly-optimistic, idealistic blog post, I understand that there are a lot of jobs out there that are quite the opposite––jobs that generate hate within hearts rather than joy. There are jobs that are dreadful and might warrant grumbling and discontentment, and I can’t pretend to understand what some people go through with their work. However, I think I have more in common with the disgruntled employee than most might think.
You see, both the disgruntled employee and the person who loves their job can easily succumb to the same temptation: to idolize their work. For the disgruntled employee, their idol is a better work situation because they hate their jobs and dream of greener pastures. They might think, If only I could have that job, or If only my work situation was improved this way then I’d definitely be happy. For the man who loves his job, his idol is the job that he already possesses. He might think, This job fulfills me. I’m satisfied and happy because of my job. I want to focus on my job and gain all the recognition and money that comes with it. Yet when that job is taken away from him, his entire world falls apart because he worshiped his work or what his work provided him. In both cases work has become an idol, taking a place that rightfully belongs to the Almighty God, and receiving the worship that only God deserves.
Work can be an idol, and I’ve seen it slowly seep into my own heart. It has Romans 1:25 written all over it: “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Our society, and specifically this generation, so easily worships the work that God created and blessed us with. We’ve experienced the lure of success and satisfaction through the workplace, and we can be blinded from the true joy that only comes from Christ in the Gospel!
At the same time, we were created for work. Adam was created from the very beginning to work and have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30), and I believe that Christians will continue to work in the new heaven and the new earth. Work is a blessing, a good thing given to us by God before the Fall. However, the work we experience now (and all our sinful responses to it) have been affected by the Fall––they are sin plagued. So how do we reconcile our work knowing that we were created for work but it is plagued by sin? Let me offer some practical thoughts:
1. Be Thankful. Remember that our sovereign God has placed you in the specific situation you’re currently in. Whether to increase your holiness or to stretch your faith, be thankful that your work is in the hands of a sovereign and all-powerful God who does not make mistakes. Pray with thankfulness about your work situation.
2. Steward Your Time. Your work is a stewardship given to you by God, so use your time wisely. Do not let your discontentment or grumbling blind you from seeing the gift of work given to you by God. He did not have to give you a job. He did not have to bless you with work. But He did. So steward it well.
3. Redeem Every Moment. Think of practical ways that you can redeem segments of your day, whether it’s intentionally building up a friendship with a co-worker or spending your break time in the Word. Develop a routine that will set your mind back upon the greater hope of the Gospel through different parts of your day.
4. Find Your Hope in the Gospel. Whether you love your work or despise it, you must place your hope in the Gospel. Find joy and rest in the fact that Christ has saved you from the devastating consequences of sin, and that hope will never be taken from you. If the Gospel truth is the most precious thing in your life, work will never become an idol to you.
Work is one of those “good” things that can very easily become a “bad” thing. It is a constant battle to try to excel at work, but not find my hope in work. I know that the Lord has placed me where I am for a reason and it’s most likely to sanctify me and teach me lessons on holiness. I take comfort in the fact that my sovereign God has given me the opportunity to glorify Him in my work, and he has provided me ways to accomplish that goal. Knowing this, I can sip my coffee with confidence because I am ultimately being sanctified by my work.