No Perfect Jobs
If you’re in a job that you don’t like, recognize you’re probably like most of the world. Every job has its garbage detail. There is no perfect job, but while we’re in Western culture, we tend to live under the myth that our real goal is to get a job where we fulfill all our desires, that matches all our gifts, and where we’re totally fulfilled every day in what we do.
And while you might find that job for a period in life, what we must know is that in a fallen world there are no perfect jobs. In fact, there are jobs that we do for the sake of our family, for the sake of income, for survival. Those realities sometimes necessitate that we do really hard, difficult, dirty, discouraging jobs.
So, Then What?
Many people in the world do jobs that are repetitive, mind-numbing, and not fulfilling in terms of getting to use their gifts to the max every day. So how do we handle that?
I went to a conference one time out in the Northwest and went to one of the nation’s largest cheese-producing factories. While there, I watched a man who, all day, stood beside a conveyor belt to straighten chunks of cheese so they could rightly be packaged on a conveyor belt. And I was so thankful that was not my job. He just stood there all day, and every ten or twelve chunks of cheese he would just straighten a little bit so it would go through the packaging mill properly.
And I think, Wow, what a terrible job. Well, I have no idea about the capacities or the interests of the person involved. I think about what I sometimes call the “George Bailey Test.” Remember George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life who got the opportunity to see what life would be like had he not lived and had he not fulfilled his earlier purposes in life?
If you didn’t do it, if nobody did it, what would be the effects upon the world?
I think about that man who was straightening cheese chunks. If he didn’t do that well, then the hygiene of the cheese could not have been maintained. It could not have been properly packaged, which means that the bacteria could have affected the cheese, which means that people could have gotten sick, which means that the cheese would not be bought from the factory, which means that the factory would not continue to be able to market and employ people who have families.
And suddenly you recognize that this man, just by straightening cheese, is maintaining a company that maintains jobs so families can be maintained. And if he were not doing that, all of the aftereffects would be damaged. Sometimes what we are enabled to do—in God’s blessing—is to consider the downstream effects of not doing a job that is no fun at all.
And you begin to recognize that the world works and families are taken care of because we sometimes sacrifice to do the jobs that are not pleasant but are maintaining the culture, the family, the society, the people that God intends to bless by what we do.
So when we’re in a job that we don’t like so much, apply the George Bailey Test. If you didn’t do it, if nobody did it, what would be the effects upon the world? And suddenly, we begin to recognize that even in the onerous jobs, there is a glory that God intends for his people as they do what needs to be done.
Bryan Chapell is the author of Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind and the Glory of Your Job.
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