Is finding purpose at work a realistic goal?
For many of us, that aspiration seems hazy at best, and far-fetched most of the time. But in the last STEPS Journey Blog article, we saw that we can involve God in the workplace. And, by doing so, we can make progress finding purpose in what we do.
In that article, I described my transformational experience going through the Lifework Leadership program a number of years ago. Shortly after that time, I found myself wondering if I needed to leave the business world to find my real purpose in life. I seriously considered doing so before realizing that we can find meaning at work, and that this is where God needs most of us to be.
Twenty years later, I’m still working.
Finding Purpose at Work
We spend so much time at work, it is important that we make it as meaningful as possible. And, if we pause to look, we can find great purpose in our occupations:
Work itself has purpose to God.
- All work has value, and it honors God to play a role in managing his creation.
- We serve God by taking a spiritual approach that involves him in our vocation.
- It pleases him when we strive to be excellent at whatever we do.
We can serve others at work.
- Every day, we have opportunities to be responsive and helpful with co-workers.
- Simply by serving as a good example, we can have a positive influence on others.
- As we form relationships at work, we will have opportunities to share with them.
Our vocation has purpose beyond work.
- By supporting a family, we accomplish one of life’s most important ministries.
- Our salary allows us to be generous and contribute to other ministries as well.
- Our skills and experience position us to be of service in our church and community.
Discovering Our Vocation
Most of us consider our vocation as merely an occupation, that is “what we do.” But, the Latin word “vocare” means “to call,” so perhaps we should begin to think of our vocation as “what we are called to do.”
We may not be able to change our work circumstances in the short term. But, if we are intentional and plan ahead, we can often make progress toward finding, or developing, a vocation with purpose.
In my career, I have interviewed many job candidates. Years ago, I came up with three simple questions that I always ask. I’ll expand those questions to show how they apply to finding purpose at work:
1. What can you be good at? God designed each of us with certain talents, and we will better find our purpose by aligning our vocation with what we do well.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23)
2. What do you like to do? To the degree we can, we should pick an occupation that we can be passionate about and that we look forward to doing.
“Having a sense of purpose in our life is critical to well-being. Whether we enjoy our work often boils down to how our job fits with our sense of purpose.” (Dan Pontefract, Harvard Business Review)
3. What gives you satisfaction? When we think about it, we will notice that there are certain activities that give us a feeling of accomplishment, as if we were designed for that purpose.
We have seen that we can involve God in the workplace. If we do, it will greatly affect how we experience our career, which is a journey that spans decades. We will discover that there is meaning in what we do, and our vocation can become our calling.
And, one day at a time, we can continue to take steps toward finding purpose at work.
Question: Have you ever thought about what you can do to find more purpose at work?
Action: Read this article again and meditate on how to turn your vocation into a calling.