Recently Fast Company published an article entitled "Do You Have the Best Job in the World?" in which Yale School of Management psychology professor Amy Wrzesniewski's findings on job satisfaction are summarized as follows:
Throughout numerous studies, Wrzesniewski has examined how the way we view our work impacts our satisfaction. Those who view their work as a “job” are only interested in the material benefits derived from their work. Daily work life is only a means to allow these individuals to acquire the resources needed to enjoy their time away from the job. Their major interests and ambitions are not exercised through their daily job tasks. Those who view their work as merely a “job” consistently have the lowest levels of job satisfaction and engagement.
Those who view their work as a “career,” on the other hand, have a deeper personal investment in their work and focus on advancement and increases in prestige and power that come from that advancement. But Wrzesniewski says those who have the highest levels of job satisfaction are those who see their work as a calling. These individuals don’t view their work as merely a means for financial gain or career advancement, but find the work itself personally fulfilling. “The work is an end in and of itself,” says Wrzesniewski. Those who viewed their work as a calling also reported fewer days of work missed than those who viewed their work as a job or a career.
...Wrzesniewski says within any occupation, you can find individuals with all three kinds of relations to their work. She found hospital janitors and groundskeepers who viewed their work as a calling, and physicians and nurses who viewed their work as merely a job.
Though a great reminder, Wrzesniewski's findings are neither new nor surprising given what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae over 2,000 years ago:
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:22-24)
All of our jobs are callings...yes, even yours** (Remember, Paul is addressing slaves here). Our work matters because we have been called to do it by the God of the universe for both our good and the good of our neighbor. We are not slaves to validation from public praise or pay raises. We needn't fear others being promoted over us or receiving credit for our work.
Does this mean that it's wrong to look for another job? No, but it does mean that joy and satisfaction are possible in even the most menial jobs performed in even the harshest conditions...including yours! If you really believed that what Paul said is true, how would that change things at your current job?
**Unless your job is somehow intrinsically illegal or otherwise contrary to God's character.