Recently, I sat across from a young lawyer and heard the same story I’ve heard so many times in Washington: I don’t like my job. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that matters. I’m only doing this to pay the bills. There has to be more to my career.
Our nation’s capital is supposed to be the place where hard workers and idealists come to realize their dreams. But then it isn’t, and it’s heartbreaking for all the folks who are left asking themselves, Why did I work so hard to get here?
Whether you’re a barista or a barrister getting started in the world, you’re probably beginning to ask yourself hard questions about your career. While that’s healthy, it’s important to keep a few things in perspective:
1. If you want big money, you may have to do something that other people can’t or won’t do. There’s a great story over at CNN.com called, “The $100,000 job: Garbage workers.” It’s about how waste management companies are doling out higher salaries and raises to garbage workers due to the shortage of qualified individuals to drive garbage trucks (one garbage worker in the story is making $112,000 a year). I’m not saying you’ve got to be a garbage worker to make the salary you want, but under the law of supply and demand, you’re going to have to do something that other people can’t do — and that might end up being something you don’t particularly want to do.
2. Your job will probably involve a lot of menial tasks. When I tell people that I’ve spent most of my career as a trial attorney, they’re like, “Ooooh lala! How exciting!” Well, sometimes. Actually, a lot of my job is spreadsheets and meetings and outlines and tedious research and clicking “Page Down” thousands of times during document reviews. It’s not what you see on TV (or nobody would watch TV shows about lawyers). That’s going to be true of most jobs, so try not to feel gypped when it turns out that 78% of your work involves tedious tasks.
3. Chances are, you’re going to be overworked or underworked. While I wish that all of our employers cared about us having perfect equipoise in our work/life balance, you’re typically going to be overworked or underworked, and there’s not a lot you can do to get around it. What you can do is ask yourself if it’s so bad that you need to move on.
4. You’re likely to get a halfway-decent boss. I’ve served dozens of managers in my lifetime — a handful of whom have been exceptionally good, and a few who have been exceptionally bad. Most of them have been low-grade disappointments who have fallen somewhere in the middle. I’m not saying that you should live with the expectation of being disappointed — I’m saying you should live with the expectation of working for someone who is just as human as you.
5. As a believer, you have an advantage in the workplace. We have an answer to question, Does my work really matter? The answer is yes, a thousand times yes. The Word says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). Similarly, it says, “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7, NLT).
How encouraging to know that all of our work matters — all of it — because Christ receives it as service to Him. Every day that we go to work, no matter the job, we work in service of the King of Kings. There is no higher calling, no greater honor, nothing more important we could be doing.
With all of that in mind, if you are a believer, be encouraged as you go to work today. Your work matters because it matters to Christ.
Copyright 2016 Joshua Rogers. All Rights Reserved.