We were created to do work. If we are able, we take our innate desire for fulfillment, our vague understanding of our passion, and our spiritual and pragmatic need to work and try to marry those in how we earn a living. And we’re miserable, most of us, in our jobs, because a job was never meant to satisfy all those requirements.
But we are called to offer ourselves and our passion to the world, and if not in our work, how? Why can’t I just earn a living doing what I love?
Because we live in a fallen world.
Because we fail to understand the difference between definition and fulfillment.
Because we fail to recognize the critical importance of leadership in the workplace.
To define is to determine the boundaries or the extent of something, in this case ourselves. To define is to say “this is what I am.” A job, an occupation, a business, these do not define us, even if we’re working in our dream job or operating a business which fulfills us.
A friend offered this thought:
“Work does not necessarily define us. I worked at a grocery store for several years in my youth. Those people certainly did not love their jobs. Outside of work, however, they were musicians. They were parents. They were marathon runners. They were martial artists…. Society relies more on the efforts of janitors and carpenters and accountants than it does on poets and musicians.”
Fulfillment, on the other hand, means to bring to realization, to satisfy the requirements of, or to complete. When something we’ve experienced is fulfilling, it is deeply satisfying, and difficult to articulate. We aim for fulfillment in our lives, not definition.
Not every job can be fulfilling but every workplace can be honorable, and true, and encouraging. This is a function of leadership.
If leadership is true and good and proper, even the most menial or mundane job will carry the seed of fulfillment, and the heart of the individual will be honored.
More often that we realize, a person is working in a position that hints at his passion, his gifts; with good leadership and a right workplace, the passion and gifting can be encouraged, and magnified. All benefit.
When leadership is poor, nonexistent, or in many cases brutal, people retreat. My friend said
“Life… got a lot easier when I invested less of myself into … the workplace.”
This is tragic, unnecessary, and unacceptable.