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I’ve had some pretty lousy jobs.
I started out on minimum wage back when it was $4.25 an hour, which wasn’t terrible, because gas was less than a buck a gallon at the time (yes, I know, I’m old). I worked at a pizza place where I swept, cooked and did whatever the other guys didn’t want to do. I was eventually “promoted” to Delivery Boy, where I took pizzas to some of the roughest parts of town and dodged barking Pit Bulls and other hazards.
My next stop was a grocery store where I stocked shelves and tediously kept the canned goods stacked neatly with the labels symmetrically lined up. Next, I worked on a construction site to save some money for college. During college, I worked on a landscaping crew and spent summers working the night shift at a factory where I unloaded trucks.
After I graduated from college, I finally landed some “office work” (a job where you shower before work instead of showing after work) which didn’t pay much and had some office “drama,” but I was just thrilled to be doing where I didn’t smell like a dumpster at the end of my shift! Eventually, by God’s grace, I landed in the ministry. I’ve spent the past ten years as a pastor, which is incredibly rewarding work, but in many ways, it’s also the toughest job I’ve ever had.
Almost everyday serving as a pastor, I talk to folks who hate their jobs, and when we hate our work, it makes every aspect of our lives feel a lot more stressful. Through my own experiences and the experiences of others, I’ve learned a few lessons which should be applied to any work situation. As a disclaimer, I didn’t make any of these up! They’re all in the Bible (which, surprisingly, is an incredibly practical “Work Manual”).
Below are four timeless principles to remember in your work. For ongoing encouragement and tools to help you thrive at work and at home, please connect with me on twitter and signup for our email list.
1. Remember that if you want to Earn More, you have to Learn More.
I’m not just talking about formal eduction (although, that can be an important aspect of it). Look at your job as a training ground for the next chapter of your life. Learn all you can from whoever will teach you. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Find mentors. Keep learning. If you want to move up or move on, you have to outgrow your job and that doesn’t happen automatically because of time. You have to be intentional and disciplined to keep growing. Don’t just talk about it or dream about it…do it!
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23
2. Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.
You’re going to have coworkers and bosses who aren’t very respectable, but you still need to show them respect. Don’t sink to their level. Rise above. Change the environment; don’t let the environment change you.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18
For more on this, check out my free video on How to Change the World.
3. Save your best for the people who matter most.
We’ve all been guilty of having a bad day at work and then being a jerk to our families afterwards. Try to never do that again. Your job isn’t nearly as important as your family. On your deathbed, you won’t be thinking about your boss or your co-workers, you’ll be thinking about your faith and your family. They’re what matters most, so give them your very best (not just your leftovers after you’ve given your best to everyone else all day).
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
For more on this, watch our free video series on The 4 Pillars of a Strong Marriage and check out my “iVow” book at the bottom of this post.
4. Remember who you’re working for.
If you have a mindset that you’re just working for “The Man” or for a boss, you’re always going to be frustrated. The truth is that wherever you’re working, and whatever you’re doing, you’re working for God. He loves you and He’s for you. Let your hard work be a reflection of your Faith and your hard work will honor God and inspire the people around you.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not for people.” Colossians 3:23
For practical tools and encouragement to help you build a rock-solid marriage and family, please check out my bestselling book* iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is now also available on iTunes for Download on iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices.