Survival or Satisfaction? What Characterizes Your Work?
A recent Forbes article states “78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck… Workers are stressed out, burned out and it's affecting not only their productivity but their satisfaction on the job.[i] The July 2018 AFA Journal cites statistics showing that “…the average American works more than a medieval peasant did.” In my 37 - year career, I don’t recall a time when I’ve seen the average person living under more workplace stress than today. So, how do we as Christians approach this pressure? The Bible reveals numerous stories of people who faced extreme pressures in their work.
Jacob was cheated out of wages for years in his work
Joseph was abused, wrongfully accused and incarcerated for it
Nehemiah was harassed and threatened
Ruth, out of destitution, had to scavenge for food
Daniel endured intense racial discrimination and was tossed to the lions over workplace jealousy
David’s story, in the Old Testament, is one of the most challenging and brutal workplace stories in the Scriptures. In much of his work life, he faced the dangers of military warfare and pressures of governmental leadership. While his accomplishments were stellar, he also lived through huge disappointments, gut-wrenching betrayals and severe workplace violence. For a prolonged period, he had to flee his work as his life was on the line. In one of his journals he writes, “My heart is in anguish within me…fear and trembling have beset me.” (Psalm 55:4 NIV). So, did David just survive? In many cases he had to survive physically. Yet, while he literally had to “survive” in his outer world, his dependence on God's strength provided “satisfaction” in his inner world...even under extreme stress. His excerpts below in Psalm 16 reveal much about David’s inner life. He writes,
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure…I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. You have made known to me the path of life: You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
David regularly did three things that model how we can move from a state of “surviving” into a realm of inner “satisfaction” and contentment amidst pressure. David learned to regularly…
Connect with God’s Presence
Wait on God’s Promises
Rely on God’s Provision
May we do the same, even when work feels like it’s “too much”.
[i] Dan Schawbel, “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2018”, (Forbes Online, November 1, 2017)
(Want to learn more about connecting with God in your work? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your copy of "Experiencing God in Your Work")