Dear Steve: How do I find work that matters–and pays?

From: Deanna
Subject: “Work” versus a paying Job

I am always busy doing something.  It seems the internet is my big platform for Christ.  Yet in all the good I can do online, I struggle to go beyond the “work” online that I don’t get paid for, but it is something I am gifted in.  I can’t seem to find a job and keep one that actually pays money.  While I enjoy the “work” I do online, I need to find a job that pays.

My job history is bad, because of past issues with depression, and I seem to have a hard time getting anyone to hire me.  Any advice?

Dear Deanna–

We all want work that matters. That we do is written into our very bones, as human beings, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are. So you are just like everyone else. While I have no idea what your work on the internet is, it does not pay. Unless you are different than most, that is important, as we all have to live in this life, putting bread and more on the table.

While there is much I might say to you if we were talking face-to-face, a few thoughts here. Who knows you well enough to think and pray with you about this? Can you draw them in, making sure that you are willing to hear their counsel about who you are and what you do, and maybe in particular about the ways you spend your time now? Iron-sharpening-iron is not just poetry; it is the stuff of life for everyone who has a good life. But then I would say you could read a bit, and if you are interested in more, that is easy to offer. Since I don’t know more than you have written, I will offer two good places to begin: “Why Work?” by Dorothy Sayers, which you can find online, and is an essay; and Kingdom Callings by Amy Sherman, a very good book that will take you to good places in both heart and mind. And finally, there are a host of evaluative tools that can be wonderfully helpful to people who want to know themselves more fully, and live more faithfully and effectively. The ones that take your whole life seriously, asking you to reflect on who you have been and what you have done over the course of life, are a better use of your time and money, e.g. People Management’s SIMA.

Again, your longing is right– even as you feel the dissonance between what you do, and what you want and need to do. I am glad that you have written.


To submit your own question about vocation to Steve, click here.

Image: “Writing to reach you” by Wim Mulder, used under a Creative Commons license.

About Dr. Steven Garber

Steven Garber has a classroom among many people in many places. As the Founder and Principal of the Washington Institute, the heart of his own calling is that people understand the integral character of faith, vocation, and culture. Author of The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (2007), and Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good (2014), he writes frequently for Comment and Critique, and in addition was a contributor to the volumes Faith Goes to Work: Reflections From the Marketplace, and Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalogue, as well as to the Mars Hill Audio journal, “Tacit Knowing, Truthful Knowing: The Life and Work of Michael Polanyi.” For many years he taught on Capitol Hill in the American Studies Program, and then became the Scholar-in-Residence for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He serves as a board member for Ransom Fellowship, the Blood:Water Mission, A Rocha, and the Telos Project, and as a consultant for the Wedgwood Circle, the Murdock Trust, the Demdaco Corporation and the Mars Corporation. A native of the great valleys of Colorado and California, he is married to Meg and is the father of five children whose own callings have them scattered around the world.