The way to have joy at work

Play to your strengths every day.

So says Gallup.   They ought to know – they’ve spent decades asking questions about overall wellbeing.  We spend most of our days at work, so it should be no surprise that we’ve told Gallup that our employment plays a big (though not exclusive) role in our wellbeing.   As of this time last year, we the people (or at least two thirds of us) told Gallup that we didn’t feel engaged by our jobs.

Engagement comes when you play to your strengths every day.

I can already hear the plaintive response:  So what?  Suck it up.  Your manager is uncaring and cold?  Be happy that you’ve got a job and you can put food on the table.  Your workplace is high pressure and politically charged?  Quit your whining.  You don’t feel valued; you don’t see any importance to your work; you feel like you’re a walk-on part in someone else’s dream?   Deal with it.

Gallup’s survey suggests that’s exactly what seventy-one percent of us are doing.  Sucking it up.  Are we any happier?  Is this really helping our productivity?   Is it really helping America get back on its feet? 

Perhaps it is time to take things into our own hands.   Perhaps we need to think differently about our work.  Perhaps we need to get creative in finding ways to play to our strengths.   And if we keep hitting walls and barriers where we are – then perhaps it is time to be courageous and move on. 

Take the time to learn your strengths.   Learn them like a master craftsman learns his tools.  Learn them like an artist learns her materials.  Examine yourself.  Hunt for your strengths, ruthlessly uncover them, test them in new and interesting ways, and put them to work. 

Have no doubts – you do indeed have strengths within you.   God has crafted your character in entirety, and has made you wonderful (don’t take my word for it – go read Psalm 139:13-16.   Yes, do it now).  You have a distinctive contribution, a singular voice.   You have strengths within.   It will be different from the strengths of others – this is a good thing. 

Be forewarned, you will be tempted to hunger and thirst for the strengths of others.    You will see on their strengths a patina of glory, yet over your gifts you perceive mostly grime.   This is only natural, for only you can know the struggle, the effort, the tears that went into developing your strengths.  Your perspective is entirely different. 

God gifted you with your particular strengths for purposes that He ordained.   Trust that when others see you exercising your gifts in full, they will see that patina of glory.   It’s not your glory, anyway.  It’s God’s. 

And therein lies the secret.  Just as there is great glory in the hawk soaring on high, in the mists flowing down the mountains, in the spray of stars across the Milky Way, so is God greatly glorified when his image bearers make good use of the gifts they’ve been given.  

So give glory to God, and play to your strengths every day. 

Soli Deo Gloria


Further Inspiration:  The Labor Day Manifesto of the Passionate Creative Worker

Why We Work — And Keep Working

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