In my last weeks as an undergraduate student, I spent my daydreaming on my yet-to-be-decided first professional job. I imagined it would match the project work from my capstone courses—research, problem solving, team discussion, discovery, reporting.
To say I romanticized the notion of work would be an understatement.
The job I found myself in was a gracious opportunity for growth—meaning, at the very bottom of the corporate ladder. At first, I didn’t mind. The people in my department were wonderful to work with, and the work itself was interesting even though it was much more administrative than I cared for. But days bled into weeks and weeks into years. The worked changed a bit after an advancement, but work was showing its true colors. I realized that work was just that—work. Every. Day.
It felt more monotonous than I could have ever imagined.
So I began to question everything: my work, my education, my goals, and even my ability to work for a lifetime. Basically, my rose-colored glasses had shattered, revealing that a career wasn’t only something to dream about but to work toward—and I wasn’t sure I was up for it. The despondency and sarcasm I saw in some coworkers who were 20 years ahead of me on the career path worried me. I didn’t want that. But was there a secondary path? Was there a way to work every day and feel excited about it?
Looking back, I see remnants of lasting things, good things—work, lessons, relationships—that show the daily grind is more transcendent than is visible in the moment. Such perspective is needed for our work, to engage our hearts and minds for the long haul. We need something more than a paycheck and a place to plop ourselves for eight-plus hours a day if we are going to find meaning in our life’s work.
Timothy Keller says this in the Introduction of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, which is the selection for The High Calling book club:
“If this life is all there is, then everything will eventually burn up in the death of the sun and no one will even be around to remember anything that has ever happened. Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught.
“Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”
The work of our hands is profound, an offering to the world of our very selves—something made meaningful because there is a God who makes living life worthwhile. Throughout Keller’s Introduction, he stresses that work is not merely for self-fulfillment and self-realization. Work is our part in bringing about the world that God intends—one based on love and mercy and justice and honor and peace and beauty. I can’t wait to learn more about seeing the True Reality unfold a bit more each day in my life, through my work.
Want to come along? Grab a book, dig in, and visit every Monday for another round of discussion. Next week: Part 1, Chapters 1–4.