by Wayne Kirkland, co-author of Where’s God on Monday?
It’s 10am Monday and Hugh is already feeling bored and unmotivated, his mind is already drifting to the events of the previous weekend.
It had been downhill pretty much from the start of the day. The boss had made his customary entrance, slapping a wad of edited papers on Hugh’s desk without so much as a nod. Hugh groaned. He knew from hard experience what that meant. The week before he’d done his best to draft the policy recommendation even though his motivation was about as low as the Stock Exchange.
Of course, by now Hugh has hardened to the fact that all of his efforts go to waste on a daily basis. It is not uncommon for the boss to abruptly change his mind and state that such-and-such a document or letter is no longer needed.
Survival in such an office environment is not easy. But over time Hugh has subconsciously developed a number of effective (though short-term) diversionary tactics to get his head out of the prospect of another mind-numbing day. Without a thought, he clicks onto the Net to check out the weekend’s sports results. Sweet relief! Man U won an away game. All is well with the world!
Are you engaged?
One of the big issues in the workforce today is worker engagement. Numerous surveys have been conducted in recent years that demonstrate a low level of motivation, sense of ownership and commitment by a high number of people in their jobs.
Engagement has to do with being energized with our work. It leads to giving our all to the tasks at hand.
On the contrary, disengaged workers are those who are just going through the motions. They struggle to exhibit any strong sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. In fact, if bedrock honesty was tapped, the truth is such people would prefer to be somewhere else – they are only there because of a lack of other options.
So what determines the level of engagement in our work? Leadership writer Patrick Lencioni suggests that the three main reasons for disengagement are anonymity (feeling unappreciated and invisible), irrelevance (as though our work doesn’t really count or isn’t valued), and immeasurement (inability to measure tangible results). When these are our dominant feelings, our work is likely to be a miserable experience.
Why Christians should be engaged workers
Let’s face it: all of us have elements of our jobs and roles we don’t particularly enjoy. This could be because of the reasons Lencioni advocates, but it could equally be because we’re not well suited to the tasks, or it could even be that we don’t get along with colleagues.
While there is no doubt all these factors make it extra challenging to be engaged in our work, as Christians we don’t have to be bound and limited by them.
If we passively rely on our bosses and work environments to give us the feel-good factor, or if we spend much of our time wishing we had a better job, then we’ll never take responsibility for our call to give 100%, to be truly engaged.
We are, after all, working for the ultimate boss. Nothing we do is ever wasted. God values and treats every offering of work we produce as worthwhile – whether or not others around us appreciate or acknowledge our effort. What’s more, it’s not necessarily what we do but how we do it that counts most. As Paul states:
“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:23-25 The Message
 See Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
Where’s God on Monday introduces readers to a basic theology of work. Written in fourteen engaging chapters, this book teaches us what the Bible says about work and how to work out our faith every day of the week. Each chapter includes questions and exercises for small group or individual reflection, blending theological reflection with practical application.
If you’d like more information about this book, visit our website, this excerpt from the book, or this blog series written by Wayne Kirkland (posts: Idle, Idol, or Worship; Are You Doing Spiritual Work?; Sabbaticals Can Be for Everyone; and Are You Working?).