Going to church faithfully and serving with joy in a ministry after a crummy week is hard. Going to work the next day with all of that still on your mind is even harder.
Then the weekend comes and goes, and it’s that same cycle again...and again...and again. And it never changes.
I’ve been doing it for 15 years, and it has not changed. Not one bit!
But along the way, I’ve learned some lessons that have helped me make sense of my purpose in this otherwise purposeless cycle. Here are 4 things that you can do now to work with purpose and identity.
Come from a Position of Humility
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met a Christian worker who just knows that he or she is God’s gift to the company. “David Disciple” and “Christina Christian” know how to do things better than the other 25 people on their work teams.
But when has anyone ever listened to you because you told them you were better than them? Instead, assume that everyone is better than you, and then trust them.
In the meantime, work on your craft. Be better in a week than you are today. If you’re a teacher (like I was), sharpen your pedagogy. If you’re a businessman, increase your sales this year compared to last.
Over time, you will find that you are going to be the best version of you. And you are going to be trusted because you’ve built relationships along the way.
And here’s where we find our purpose: People around you will start asking you questions. How did you do that? Why are you so stress-free?
And then you answer them: I can do what I do because I don’t think I deserve a single thing that I have. This is the fruit of humility.
Answer Questions Honestly
After Jimmy was discovered dealing narcotics at our school, I chose not to expel him.
Puzzled by this, he asked me: “Mr. Jung, I don’t get it. Why are you giving me this chance?” (I’ve had to *bleep* out all of the curse words and you can’t see the objects being thrown around.)
Here’s what I said: Well, you’re definitely still in trouble and are going to be suspended. But we’re going to keep you here. We’re going to work with law enforcement so that you can redeem your criminal record. I’m going to be there every step of the way help you become a successful young man.
We’re going to do all of this not because you deserve it - you don’t. You’re getting this break because I’ve gotten this break. And, when it comes time, you’re going to give this break to others, too.
In moments like these, something beautiful happens. People begin to probe and ask questions.
I now have opportunities to answer the big “why,” in a place other than church. These are open invitations to speak about how the Gospel has transformed my life - “why I do what I do,” “why I believe what I believe,” and “why I love the people standing in front of me”.
And all of a sudden, my purpose in my career is clear - to love others as Christ loved me, and I can do it by answering their questions honestly.
Reflect - A Lot
If you’re humble, then you’re a learner. If you’re a learner, you need to find space to process.
I do this during my commute, about about an hour and fifteen minutes each way.
- Reflect: First, I summarize and recount my day. I reflect on moments I am thankful for. I reflect on moments when I could have done better. I reflect on how I treated people - those under and above me.
- Process: Then I begin processing - I pray (with my eyes open, of course, although at the rate of speed which I’m driving through LA traffic, I hardly doubt that any car accident would be considered severe!).
I pray for what I’m grateful for. Moments of hurt. A coworker who needs to meet Jesus. A student who is grieving. A homeless family.
I don’t allow myself to complain about traffic (easier said than done). Instead I choose to reflect and process. I want my career to be impactful and connecting with God is the best way to do that.
The act of reflecting and processing is the act of reviewing your day with God’s eyes, hands, and heart. You realize that you fall short, but you grow from this daily experience. This often leads to some of the most genuine prayers with God.
Reconsider Your Expectation of What Church on Sunday Is and Is Not
I used to think church was there so we could serve it. But it’s not.
The church is there to equip us to serve others.
The church doesn’t need your amazing guitar chops. She doesn’t need your astute Bible mind. She doesn’t need your ability to work with children.
Instead, the church wants you to be equipped so you can serve others on the days that you are not at church!
Think about it - you heard a great sermon. You engage corporately in worship. You tithe. You connect with others. All on Sunday. All at church.
To what end? So that you can pull yourself out of your sad, weekly pity party? No!
The church gives you wisdom, inspires you to more like Christ, to give of yourself in a multitude of ways, and calls you to action.
So go act! Live out what you get from church. If the message is about forgiveness, then start thinking about and acting on the people you need to forgive in the workplace or in your campus ministry. If the time of worship led you to pray more deeply, then pray more deeply not just on Sunday but through the week.
You’ll see change. You will seize moments of ministry in places other than church. And you will find meaning in your career that is self-less, God-honoring, and Jesus-imitating. And at the very least, people around you will begin to ask you questions that you can answer honestly.
And that mundane cycle will finally be broken and your work will have meaning (again)!
Robby is married to his best friend, Grace. They have two amazing boys (Jeremiah and Joshua). Robby is a High School Assistant Principal and Elder / Worship Director at Living Hope Community Church.