A friend rose to the highest levels of a major, international organization. As a Senior Vice President, he got the big paycheck, leased vehicle, club memberships, and oversaw tens of thousands of workers. As a member of the President’s Cabinet, he spoke into critical areas in these challenging times. He was at the top of his game.
And he just resigned.
He did not just resign… He is going to Alaska. He is going to work in local operations with the remotest villages of Alaska. His first stop is Savoonga. Have you been to Savoonga? Yes, me neither. He is giving up his comfortable chair at the big table to hop on a plane with skids and land on a frozen river.
Why? It brings him joy.
Yes, there is more to it than that simple statement. The Lord has called him. It fits with his operational beliefs around serving people and making them better. He wants to live the Biblical principle of finding one who can help another, who in turn can help another, and that person then finding someone that they can assist (II Timothy 2:2).
He can paint the decision in principles and a simplified life, but when it comes down to it, he loves working in Alaska. He has worked in the furthest reaches of Alaska with immense joy, celebration for his work through promotion, and this new job fit his strengths.
I Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gifts” given to you. He is not neglecting those gifts. Rather, he is neglecting the pull of the power seat and tackling this new task. This change has already rekindled the joy of work for him.
What has brought you HAPPINESS? Shouldn’t this be where a discussion about the joy of work begins? Not, how have you made money? Or, even, what is on your resume? The key question is, what do you really enjoy doing?
Think back through your life and identify those situations that were joy-filled. Those times that made you smile as a kid. Those work situations in which you and the team still laugh. Consider why they brought you happiness.
For example, I enjoy working in a team. It goes all the way back to a Native American project in third grade. Our class was a tribe, and I was named chief by the teacher and classmates. I was called, “Tall Chief.” We had a potluck in the schoolyard. I can remember it clearly. I am sure this block was not culturally appropriate, but it had a great impact. It is my earliest memory of working joy. This was school, but I enjoyed this project.
Part of the reason I loved it was the fact that I was celebrated. My teacher named me, chief. We find joy at work in places where we receive celebration. When have you been CELEBRATED? You will find that if you are good at something and it brings you joy, others will notice.
As a young professional, a mentor encouraged me to create an “Atta Boy” file. This was a place where I could drop meaningful notes and cards. This mentor foretold that there will be challenging days when I will need the encouragement of that “Atta Boy” file. Over 30 years into my career, I still have that file. In a handful of demanding times, I have leafed through that folder. Reading the file is not just encouraging, it reminds me of what I am good at and who I am. Celebration is orientation. Where you are celebrated points you towards joy at work.
1 Peter 4:10 and 11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should so as one who speaks the very words of God.”
As we look through our life, we should find that our gifts have been used to serve those around us. Proverbs says that one’s gift “makes room for him and brings him before the great” (Prov. 18:16). We don’t use our gifts just to “go before the great,” or the celebration, nice notes, or awards. We do it because we have built a track record of testimony. We are made to operate in that track.
Finally, where are you STRONG? Work in a way that uses your strengths, and you will find joy in your work. What are you good at doing?
Most everyone knows what they are good at doing. You will find joy at work, if you can limit your work that is outside of your gifts and spend your time working within your strengths. It is incredibly rare to only operate in your gifts. We all have tasks that are a stretch. Work to limit those tasks and focus your time on those things in which you are strong.
Romans 12:6 says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” We each have various strengths. Your job in the world is to be good at that which you’re made to be good at doing.
What is your “Alaska?” It is that work that brings you joy, celebration, and uses your gifts. My buddy is leaving the Board room and bouncing around Alaska doing work that brings him happiness, brought him success, and where he uses his strengths.
You do not have to go to Alaska. The joy of work can be found where you are at today.