What To Do If You Hate Your Job


There’s a story about two young classmates sharing what their fathers did for a living. One boy, suggesting embarrassment, said, “My dad pops rivets all day.” The other boy excitedly told his class, “My dad builds airplanes!” Interestingly, both fathers had the same job—and yet vastly different work ethics. One saw his work as tedious monotony while the other perceived his work as part of something important, meaningful and bigger than himself.

Do you hate Mondays?

Unfortunately, some of us have the work ethic (i.e., your beliefs and attitudes about work) of the rivet-popping dad. We dread Mondays, eschew menial labor (or pay someone to do it for us), and look forward to the day when we no longer have to work. Perhaps this was passed down from Greco-Roman philosophy, which believed that “cultured people” did not work because it was beneath them. According to Aristotle, no man in Thebes was eligible for citizenship until he had stopped working for ten years.

The Christian work ethic is based on what God has revealed about work in the Bible. The biblical concept of work is that which conforms to the will of God. We do what we do because it is the Lord’s plan for us. This means, among other things, that our work is done in obedience to God and for his glory. Everything else about our work flows out of this conviction.

If it’s a struggle for you to get out of bed in the mornings, here are three biblical principles that can help you recalibrate your mindset:

1. Work is a gift from God.

The Bible presents work as a gift from God. Moses wrote: “Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18) The ability and opportunity to do what you do is from the Lord. And while sin’s curse brought frustration and fatigue into it, it remains that “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This…is from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

The New Testament rule was that if a man would not work, he forfeited the right to eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) For most of his earthly life, Jesus labored as a village carpenter. The apostle Paul was a tent-maker and supported himself so he wouldn’t be a financial burden on the churches. According to Jewish law, rabbis were required to have a trade and be self-supported. The Jewish mindset saw work as a gift from God.

We should be grateful for the work we have, even if it’s not our ultimate preference.

Ask yourself: Am I grateful to God for my job? Have I thanked him for the ability and opportunity to do what I do?

2. Work is the test of man.

The wise man said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) The Apostle Paul echoed that same idea when he wrote: “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.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

You should view your work as something done for God’s approval. That means work is never a matter of what you do but how you do it. The Christian work ethic is not so much about doing extraordinary things but doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

The Christian work ethic is not so much about doing extraordinary things but doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

Too many men waste time wishing they could be employed elsewhere and do something else. I certainly do not mean to imply that you should never change jobs. However, the best way to change jobs is to do your present one to the best of your ability. William Barclay writes: “It is the strange paradox that the man who gets the greater job is the man who is so intensely interested in what he is doing that he does not think of any other job.”

Ask yourself: Do I do what I do to the best of my ability, working as unto the Lord?

3. Work is integral to community.

Adam Smith’s principle of the division of labor held that no one person can do everything, but that each should do his own job for the benefit of the community. As believers, we’re commanded not to consider only our own interests, but the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses a similar concept to illustrate how a church (one body) is made up of many individual parts, each put in place by God to contribute a vitally important function for the greater good. “If all were a single member, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12:19)

If you’ve ever worked in a me-first environment, you have probably experienced the frustration and discouragement that comes with it. Everyone is really busy pushing their agendas, but overall progress is stagnant and maybe even going in reverse. When we view our individual work as a contribution to community, we can break the stalemate and find greater enjoyment in our work.

Ask yourself: Do I view my job as a contribution to the community or only as means to my personal benefit?

If you find yourself dreading the alarm clock on Monday mornings, take to heart these three principles and ask God to renew your mindset about the work he has given you to do.

William Barclay, Ethics in a Permissive Society, p.94

Ibid, p.96

Three principles that will help to build a Biblical work ethic.