People are always telling us to chase our dreams. Follow our hearts. Reach for the stars. Carpe the diem.
[You know how it goes]
Even in the church we are told to explore our gifts, passions, and desires so that we can do great things for God. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a good things to use your gifts for the glory of God.
But what happens when God doesn’t put you in a place that matches with your passions and desires?
What happens when God puts you in a position that doesn’t use your God-given gifts and talents?
What happens when God calls you to a job that you don’t like?
I’ve heard it said that the place God is calling you is where your gifts and passions meet His mission for the world. But I don’t think that is quite right.
Yes, sometimes the Lord calls us to a place where we are perfectly suited to use our gifts and to play a part in His mission in which we feel our passions are perfectly aligned. Sometimes the Lord calls us to a place where we feel purpose and fulfillment.
But sometimes, God doesn’t call us to a great and glorious use of our gifts. Instead, sometimes He calls us to a menial job or tasks that seem below our ability level. Sometimes He calls us to a position that feels unimportant or purposeless. Sometimes He calls us to a place that is hard to live in, where we feel like we don’t belong.
But notice the language I just used. Even those menial jobs, those less-than-important tasks, those things that you feel “overqualified” for, even those tasks are callings from God.
I think our understanding of the idea of “calling” is a little warped. We view calling as this place of rightness and fulfillment, this place where we are perfectly suited for the job we are doing and where we feel purpose.
But I don’t think that’s an accurate understanding of calling.
Whatever it is that you are doing now, wherever it is that God has you, whatever work the Lord has placed before you in this season, that is where God has called you to be and what He has called you to do.
John Piper writes that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Notice that he does not say “God is most glorified in us when are most satisfied in our jobs (or our relationships or our circumstances).”
We live in a tangible world so it is all too easy to find purpose and satisfaction in our earthly circumstances.
But, friends, I pray that you will hear this.
When we stop finding our joy and purpose and peace in the Gospel and in who Jesus is, that is when idolatry creeps in.
It’s not bad to want to do something great for the Kingdom. It’s not wrong to want to make an impact and win souls for Christ. It’s not necessarily incorrect to want to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your career.
But consider how tightly you are holding on to those desires for purpose and impact and greatness.
Consider your motives behind seeking those things: is it for your glory and fulfillment or for God’s?
We are all tempted to want to do something important, but who are we to say what is important and what is not? Every person we engage is an eternal soul and every moment is one that can be leveraged for the sake of your spiritual growth and for the sake of the Gospel.
The world screams self-promotion and success. But the Gospel changes our views on success.
The essence of the Gospel is dying to self, which is completely counter-cultural.
The Gospel helps us to see that success is intimately knowing God and inviting others into that same intimate knowledge of God.
Steve Jobs was quoted as saying that “The only way to be satisfied is to do great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” But I have to disagree with him.
I believe that the only way to be satisfied is to work wholeheartedly for the mission of God, not your own.
I believe that any work that the Lord calls you to do is “great work,” even if that work is changing diapers or mopping floors or answering phones.
You might not love what you do. You might hate your job. Your work might not seem “great” at all – it might seem small and insignificant.
But if you are faithful to what the Lord has called you to and if you leverage that opportunity as a chance to proclaim God’s goodness and exercise trust in Him…
THEN you can find true satisfaction in your work, knowing that you are working wholeheartedly “as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3:23)
Did you catch that?
The reward of our work is not our satisfaction.
The reward of our work is not impact or fulfillment or purpose.
The reward of our work is the inheritance of Christ Jesus – intimate knowledge of the Father through Christ the Son by the gift of the Spirit in us.
The reward of our work, even if dull and unimportant, is the sanctification that happens in those mundane moments, as the Spirit shapes our character to look more like Jesus’.
I pray that today you would stop and open your eyes to where the Lord has you. I challenge you to praise God for where He has placed you and the work He has given you, even if it’s work that feels mundane and pointless. I encourage you to serve wholeheartedly and work diligently where you are, even if it feels dull and unimportant. I pray that you would rest in the truth that from the foundation of the world God has prepared a good work for you. I pray for you to believe that God is good and that where you are is best. I challenge you to love and trust God even if your story isn’t turning out the way you wanted it to.