I recently wrote an article about the challenges that a worker and his or her family will face when they start a new job. It has been a long time since I have done that, as I have served in my job for over 14 years. I sensed there might be some things I have learned that may help others. Perhaps I could reflect on some of the challenges and blessings of working in the same job for a long time from a biblical perspective.
I invite you to consider with me what it might look like for a Christian to remain in the same job for an extended season. What are some of the downsides, if any? What are some of the advantages? Let me unpack this topic a bit, using some scriptures and my understanding of the theology of work. To begin, let me address two potentially negative consequences for those who stay in the same job a long time.
When a senior leader arrived at our organization several years ago, he expressed some concerns about me being complacent in the job. He thought that after six years I might have grown too comfortable in this position, that I had stopped growing and improving, or that I did not care as much as I should.
I can see why an outsider who did not know me well might have some general concerns about an employee who has been around a while. These things are quite real. Some people do in fact get comfortable and set in their ways, stop learning new ideas, or no longer care. These bad habits can be temptations for Christians to fall into over time as they settle into their job responsibilities and routines for years.
However, there are some things that I have learned while serving here to help fight these temptations. What drives me to not be lazy, to keep on looking for ways to improve, and to pursue excellence in all that I do is simply this. As a Christ-follower, I have chosen to remember who I really work for.
The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:23-24, instructs Christian workers to demonstrate their transformation in Christ. He teaches them to submit to their bosses, knowing who they ultimately work for. Paul exhorts, “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.” Jesus is their true boss.
As I have done this myself, my motivation changes. I sincerely labor to do what is right for the glory of God, regardless of who is or is not looking. Moreover, I fully recognize that each one of us who are indwelt by God’s Spirit work in the very presence of God, which causes me to not be complacent.
Another possible unintended result of a Christian working in the same position for some time is that it is easy to get overconfident in our own abilities, experience, and knowledge. This could cause us to lean on our own flesh and not depend daily on God’s strength and grace to get us through each day.
In my experience, I have found success in the recurring projects I have planned. When I have been tempted to get comfortable in my own way of doing things or have not been open to the ideas of my supervisor or my team, I risked being perceived as an employee who is no longer value added.
This sense that we can do it all without anyone’s help (including God’s) is rooted in pride. I have to say that I struggle with that myself on occasion, when I think to myself, “Look at what I just did!”
In a devotional I subscribe to, I was reminded of a passage that has been meaningful to me since my college days that clearly applies to a tenured employee. Jeremiah 9:23-24 states:
Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.
It is easy to think that the wisdom, influence, and wealth that have been accumulated from working in a career for decades is something we did ourselves. We need to remember that it all came from God.
There are some downsides in doing the same job for years. However, there are many upsides as well. We’ll look at those in my next article.
Editor’s note: This article was adapted from the author’s personal blog. Republished with permission.