Three Signs of a Miserable Job

In the common American model, the job is central. We are frequently more defined by what we do than by who we are. When meeting a new person, the conversation normally goes as follows: “Hi, I’m so-and-so. What do you do?” From that one brief answer, we make conclusions about that person’s intelligence, education, income, and value to society. With this model, we get our total sense of worth from our work. That is why retirement or job loss is so hard because so much of our identity is gleaned from what we “do.”

When I left the magazine, it was very hard. For 13 years, that is who I was, the editor-in-chief of The Village Family Magazine, and now that was no longer true. Even though I left because I was entering into a new career that I knew I would love, I still grieved.

Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called “Three Signs of a Miserable Job,” and in it, he talks about what people want most out of their jobs:

  1. People wanted to be known, understood and appreciated in their work. You can’t be fulfilled if you are not known.
  2. People want their work to have relevance, to matter,  have some kind of purpose and impact on others
  3. People want some way to gauge their progress and a way to measure whether or not they are doing a good job.

It doesn’t surprise any of us that what we want from what we “do” is to be known, to be relevant, and to measure progress.

Look at John 10:3-4: The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 

In Christ, we are known. Jesus calls his sheep by name and leads them out. He knows them and the sheep follow because they know him.

In Christ, we are relevant. We are not saved from something but saved for something. “As the Father sends me, so I send you,” says Jesus.  We are called to make a difference in the world and in the lives of others.

How do we measure our progress? All the things that typically mark success in the world don’t add up to a hill of beans in the eyes of Jesus. I guess you could say that our measuring stick for a job well done is Christ himself. Are we being changed? How well do we represent Christ? Did we bring a little bit of light into the world today?

Being Human connection: Instead of looking to our accomplishments to define us, we can look to Christ.