Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

What If I’m Stuck in the Wrong Job?

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Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love.

– Psalm 25:4-6

A young man asked me the following question last week in the midst of a faith and work conference we were both attending:

What should I do if I am stuck in the wrong job?

Almost all of us can relate to this question because we have all been in jobs that just weren’t the best fit. You may have been in the wrong field, didn’t enjoy the work, felt surrounded by untrustworthy coworkers, or had an incompetent boss.

Most people would tell this young man to quit and go find something else. But in today’s job market, that may not be easy, or even possible. There are many reasons he may not be able to leave his current job: a tough economy, family commitments, or limited opportunities in his field. So what do you tell someone who is stuck in the wrong job?

There are no perfect jobs

We read in Genesis 3 that all work will be difficult because of the Fall. No job will be a perfect fit for any of us in this world. That being said, usually you will move into a job that is a better fit as you gain more experience in the workplace.

Find meaning in what you do

Most people are highly unsatisfied when they believe that their job has no meaning or purpose and provides little opportunity for them to learn and grow. Yet as Christians who understand the biblical meaning of work, we should understand that each task that God has called us to do, even the stuff we don’t like, has meaning to him – no matter how mundane that work appears to us.

Try to improve your current situation

No matter what our job is, we need to do it with excellence. Far too often we tend to slack off and just do the minimum to get by when we don’t like the job we are doing.

By doing your best, you increase the chances of your getting noticed and finding additional opportunities to steer your job description toward something that is a better fit.

Keep your options open

The improvements you make to your job situation may make things more tolerable, but you should always be open to the next opportunity. Always be building your network and try to be continually meeting people that you can help and that are willing to help you.

Tips to Remember

Do:

  • Make connections with people you like at work and outside work, building a network that is deep and wide.
  • Assess what you don’t enjoy about your job so that you can minimize the time you spend doing unwanted tasks. Look for new ways to bring value to your organization.
  • Continue to work hard and do exceptional work. You may find opportunities to do other types of work within your current company.
  • Keep your options open: you may not be able to leave your job now, but circumstances may change.
  • Continue to learn new skills on and off the job.

Don’t:

  • Quit your job until you have another one lined up.
  • Assume that the job is the problem. God may be trying to teach you something where you’re currently placed.
  • Think you’re stuck. There is usually more leeway to alter your job situation than you think.
  • Complain about your job to others.

Life is a journey. While what we do here is very important, our final destination is a new heaven and a new earth that will not be marred by sin’s curse. While the journey can sometimes get messy, we need to constantly be aware of the lessons that God wants to teach us along the way, especially at our work. We need to learn to navigate, to solve problems, and to discern what to do next based on his desire and design.

In Psalm 25, David cried out to God and asked him to direct his path. Notice what David says:

Lead me by your truth and teach me.

May that always be our prayer, no matter what kind of job we find ourselves in.

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  • vuyelwa

    Thank you for this post. It applies to me in my current work situation. I got so despondent I actually started contemplating the meaning of life. I looked up the whole of Psalm 25 and have decided to pray it until a shift happens while leaning on the Holy Spirit to help me be productive in my current situation. My search for answers has led me from John Piper to Francis Schaefer to this site, which has led me back to God through this Psalm. Maybe I have been looking everywhere but Him. But He is so faithful to lead to Himself, however we start.

  • Mr. Freeman

    I have felt a lot of frustration over the past few years as I attempt to find something, anything really, that I believed would lead me closer and closer to the sort of job or field that I have felt called to. I agree with everything above, but sometimes it feels incredibly hard when the dry seasons take their toll on you…It has hurt my faith and confidence as a man.

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