How Do You Define Your “Life’s Work”?
Whether you love or hate your job — Jesus is offering you a chance to glorify Him through it.
What a doozy of a question. But let’s make it easy and put the answer right here in the first paragraph – if you’re constantly searching for your true “life’s work”, you’re letting it pass you by.
To set the record straight, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be seeking out that higher purpose in life. But take it from a person who often catches herself saying “God, you must have a greater plan for me than [insert any task my job ever requires of me, even if I really enjoy said task]” — there isn’t any task greater than the one that’s been placed in front of you in that moment.
Just like most Christians, I’m very end-goal oriented. In fact, to prove so, I’m going to share some almost-verbatim tidbits of conversations I’ve had below:
“What’s your biggest priority in life?”
“To go to Heaven when I die.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“Not going to Heaven when I die.”
“How would you want people to remember you when you’re gone?”
“On one of those little laminated Saint cards you get at the fancy cathedrals.”
Call me a Sunday school teacher’s pet all you want, but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure if I deserve a title like that with those answers. Yes – we should all want to be Saints. Yes – the goal is Heaven. But if the lives of the actual Saints are documented for any purpose, their greatest purpose is to show us how to be Jesus for others in the smallest moments of our lives.
Now back to that life’s work question.
Because we are 1) faithful people, who 2) want to go to Heaven, and 3) are looking for the “right path” — I don’t think it’s uncommon to find our day-to-day work unfulfilling.
For many of us, unless we work at an organization associated with the Church, our jobs are the most secular parts of our lives. And since a job takes up a majority of a week, and is busy, tiring, stressful, hard, and numerous other adjectives — it’s easy to get swept up. In a job, there’s not this straight line of “I do this, and it affects this, and therefore helps me get to Heaven,” and it can make our job feel irrelevant to our own grand scheme of things.
So if you’re like me and you’re constantly asking God for a chance to fulfill a greater purpose with your life, I’ve got some good news for you. That chance is already right there in your day-to-day, in the small moments that we often let pass by.
I used to fight against that notion of being “just Katie, an employee of a company.” I wanted to be doing big things for God. What my lack of humility wouldn’t allow me to see were the fruits that were borne into my life as a result of being “just Katie, an employee of a company,” and how God was blessing me abundantly through my job whenever I asked Him for that “greater purpose.” What my pride hid from me were the moments that I could have reached out to a struggling coworker — offering words of comfort and helping hands — when I asked God to show me how to die to myself that day. I wanted big moments, and God gave them to me. I was just blind to them because I thought they were small.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), Jesus relates the story of a man who entrusts certain amounts of money to three of his slaves, according to their abilities, and two use them to make profit, while one doesn’t.
It’s a hard realization to come to when you figure out you’re like the slave given the talent and then buries it in the ground.
“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, so I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you still have what is yours.”
A cross-translation of this to fit my scenario might read something like: “God, I’ve read about the Saints and watched friends live out extraordinary and faithful lives for you. I’ve asked you to give me opportunities like theirs, and I refuse to humble myself to opportunities I think are too small. See, you have me for what I deem to be great enough.”
God has set so many opportunities in front of me at work to use my ‘talents.’ I put quotes around talents because I don’t believe you have to be extraordinary at something for it to be used for God’s purpose. Communication, understanding, empathy – these things are innately human, common. They are easy, but they are powerful. God asks us to listen, sympathize, and love those around us. Doing so is a great act of testimony, a feat of Heaven, and draws us nearer to Jesus.
If you have related to any of these feelings I’ve written about here, I want to challenge you to something: ask God to grant you an opportunity to serve His purpose today and wait for the smallest — and in some cases — most humbling opportunity to be placed in front of you. Then do it with love.
Your life’s work is found where you’re at, in every present moment. I know that’s hard to accept when you’re unhappy at your job or don’t like a task at hand. But your lack of happiness doesn’t nullify the presence of God’s grace.
“You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
May we be faithful in the small things, because they are not small when God gives them to us.
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