Can you find joy in work? Should you look for it there?

Finding joy in work is not only difficult, but will lead to disappointment on those days where you're frustrated.

We all dream of the perfect job. We singles can be more guilty of pouring ourselves into our career than married folks because it's a source of recognition and affirmation. But you don't have to be too old before you realize that there is no such thing as the perfect job. It doesn't exist.

The workplace relies on the interaction of people, and people are unpredictable. It's been my experience that the job tends to bring out the worst in many folks.

Joy in work from fulfillment?

Ideally, your profession would be emotionally fulfilling. You'd come home every night feeling satisfied about the contribution you made to society. Ha! If you're not snorting right now, you should be.

Maturity is recognizing the difference between how you want things to be and how they really are, and being able to live with it.

Millions of singles go through life constantly complaining because the world doesn't live up to their lofty ideals. They are continually shocked because their job doesn't fulfill them 100 percent of the time. I'll grant you the first time or two or even a half dozen times, but after that, you need to wake up and smell the latte.

Even if you have a job in the medical field, social service, or as a clergy person, trying to find joy in work will be thwarted by deadlines, small budgets, restrictive rules, or a psychotic boss. Some days you'll come home happy, some days not.

Remember. We're defining joy as a deep, unchangeable contentment that never fluctuates, no matter the outer circumstances.

Joy in work from your pay?

It's a rare person who is satisfied with their pay, no matter how much it is. The workplace has a unique way of making you shake your head sometimes while you mutter to yourself, "It's not worth it."

It's a wonderful thing to have enough money to pay your bills, invest toward your future, and treat yourself to some occasional fun. On the other hand, expecting to find joy in money and what it will buy is the fast-track to disillusionment. Why do so many celebrities and rich people get hooked on drugs and alcohol?

We're more complicated than that. We need more. The problem with toys, no matter how expensive, is that their attraction eventually wears off. That's why people always have to buy more. Trying to find joy in work because of what it will buy you is a guarantee of emptiness.

Some singles measure their success based on making more money than their friends or high school classmates. It's the old high school competition, but kicked up a couple notches. What's not kicked up is the mentality of it. It's still high school.

You are different. You wouldn't be reading this right now if you were a shallow person. You are looking for the truth, the secrets of life that will bring you a depth of satisfaction far beyond the trappings of the rat race.

Don't look for joy in work from your pay.

Why you can't find joy in work

Human resources people, success gurus, and business schools won't tell you why you'll never find joy in work. They're too busy with the money/success/American Dream thing to have given it prolonged thought.

It's in a little-known verse in the Bible. You never hear a sermon on it, and most Christians skip right by it when they're reading. But it explains it all:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19, NIV)

Those are the words of God to Adam after he threw the first couple out of the Garden of Eden. It's a curse, God's curse on work. Before his disobedience, Adam tended the garden. It was fulfilling because he was working directly for God.

"God doesn't want us
to turn our job into our god."

We can enjoy our work, we can get satisfaction from it, and we can even have fun on the job, but in a sense, that curse applies to us, too, because God hates idolatry. He doesn't want us to turn our job into our god. He doesn't want us to look to our work for what we should only get from him: Joy.

It's a bitter truth, but knowing it can spare you a lot of pain. Don't look for joy in work because it can't be found there. The only source of this never failing, soul-deep contentment is God. Look for joy in him and you'll find it. More than you could ever hope for.

"The only thing you can count on is change."

You may think the above article about not looking for joy in work is cynical. But in today's work environment, it should serve as a warning not to pour your heart and soul into your job--especially your soul.

Conscientious performance is no longer a guarantee of job security. During one corporate downsizing, a vice president told me, "Our company magazine has never looked better since you took it over, but we're going to have to let you go."

Seniority doesn't matter. My aunt got let go after 27 loyal years on the job. Nobody was more meticulous in their work than Jean.

Next door to the place I worked in Galesburg, IL was a huge Maytag plant. But the company shut it down, transferred that work to Mexico, and put 1,600 people out of their jobs. Some had worked their all their lives.

What I'm trying to protect you against is putting your expectations into something that has the potential to disappoint you in a BIG way. By all means be conscientious. Give it your very best effort. Enjoy the people you work with. But understand, too, that no job lasts forever. God does.

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