Would Christian advice to an alcoholic be “Go hang out in a bar for most of the day 5 days a week”? Or to the drug addict, “You need to stay at a crack house for 40 hours a week”? Or to the porn or shopping addict, “Stay isolated in an 8×8 room during the best hours of the days and surf the internet?”
100 times no way!
Christians would not advise this, atheists would not, secular wisdom would not, in fact, no one with the smallest particle of common sense would give this advice.
Yet when it comes to Christians who hate their jobs, who are beat down day by day by a dead-end job, typical Christian advice is “Suck it up! Go to your job 40+ hours a week and be grateful.” Though job dissatisfaction and addiction differ, both are spiritual conditions that are ‘best’ treated by staying away from the situation.
Unfortunately, with job dissatisfaction, staying away is not an option.
If you are thinking about googling “Christian job dissatisfaction” for advice, let me save you some time. Most Christian writers who wax eloquently on vocation and faith, find fulfillment in their jobs—the jobs where they tell other Christians how to feel about their unfulfilling jobs.
In a nutshell, the advice of these writers fall loosely into one of the following categories:
- You should be grateful for your job.
- Find a “truly authentic” way to connect your work to God’s work. (What does that even mean in the real world?)
- It is a provision.
- God must be teaching you something there. Or He has you there for a purpose.
In Other Words, “Suck it up!”
It is ironic, if you think about it, most Christians writing about “Christian job dissatisfaction,” that is, about other Christians who hate their jobs, actually have jobs they enjoy. (Dare we use “hate” in the same sentence with Christian? The faith/vocation writers will surely pshaw.) That is why there is an extreme disconnect in these various books, blogs, and blaring articles.
Christians who detest their jobs, do NOT need a Theology of Work.
We do not believe in the existence of a “truly authentic way to connect” a soul-crushing secular job “to God’s work.”
Can anything be any more contradictory?
What we need is a Christian community. Someone –
- who understands
- who empathizes, that is, who can connect
- who can offer REAL advice, support, encouragement, hope
- who is in our situation
We need others who understand the magnitude of the oppression.
We need the HOW online community.
Before another person (who has a job they enjoy) writes some judgmental, non-empathetic piece, I pray they will attempt thinking about it from the other side. I am a Christian and I loathe my job. It destroys a little bit of my soul each day. If you haven’t lived that, then you can’t relate.
Answer Guide To “Suck It Up!” Advice
Btw, here’s a quick how-to for responding to typical, judgmental, shame-inducing, holier-than-thou advice (tone is everything, so read these as if speaking matter of factly):
- Suck It Up! “You should be grateful.”
- Answer: Who says I’m not grateful? I can be grateful for a job AND hate it at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am grateful that Jesus died for me, yet I hate the suffering He endured.
- Suck It Up! “Find a “truly authentic” way to connect your work to God’s work.”
- Answer: Are you mental? What does that even mean? (just kidding) Listen, I appreciate your help, but not every job can truly and authentically connect to God’s work. If your heart is not in a job, how can it be connected to God’s work since God’s work always entails using the heart? My point of connection is trusting Jesus to get me out of a job that I hate. I’m not going to whitewash the outside, pretending and burying the filthiness of hate and bitterness on the inside. Confessing really works—if only Christians really could confess their weaknesses without their faith being judged.
- Suck It Up! “It is a provision.”
- Answer: Yes, it is. But the problem is, that is all it is. Try being somewhere through the best hours of the day, doing something that is as satisfying as watching paint dry. Don’t just try it 1 day, 1 week, 1 month. Try it for years and then tell me “it is a provision” as if that is supposed to make it all better.
And the one that tops the list:
- Suck It Up! “God has something to teach you there.”
- Answer: It is true that God works in mysterious ways. God’s will, however, is to strengthen His people and to bless His people. It is not God’s will to beat His people down or shame them when something in their lives is causing severe despair. God teaches and builds faith through suffering. According to God’s wisdom, He does not teach through continued despair and loss of hope. And that is what happens when typical Christian advice insists: “Be content. Something is wrong with your faith.” That is sweeping the demon under the rug and when it comes back, believe me, it is 7 times stronger.
Lord, I thank you that I don’t have to pretend to be perfect in Your presence. You are my Creator, and you know me perfectly—warts and all. And still you love me and want the best for me. Father, whoever may be reading these words, I pray that you will bless them and keep them. Please comfort and protect them throughout their days. And God, please bring several of us like-minded people together. Help us to comfort and encourage one another, as a body of your believers is supposed to do. I thank you for technology that we may come together from far and wide. And more importantly for the Holy Spirit who brings us together in one mind and heart. Jesus, bless us all that through your grace and mercy we might find employment doing what we were born to do. In Your Name. Amen.
Harps On Willows would love to hear from you.
What Christian advice has been offered to you for your job situation? Leave a comment.
…and hang in there (so cliche, but hey, it works!)
…and share HOW with a friend today.
Are You A Harp On A Willow?
Are you a Christian who hates your job, who suffers from job dissatisfaction?
Are you a harp on a willow? In a place you do not belong? Longing to be in a place that brings you joy and hope for the future?
Believe me, I know how you feel. Consider joining the HOW online community. We all need the support of fellow Christians who understand.