Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, Genesis 2:4-9, Genesis 2:15, Nehemiah 2:11-18, Psalm 90:17, Acts 20:35, Colossians 3:17
For the past year, I have been a full-time teacher. I teach 8th grade New Testament, 9th grade Systematic Theology, and 10th grade Hermeneutics. Some days are hard. But every day is rewarding. I love the students. I love the subjects. And I love the people I work with; they are brilliant and kind and fun to be with. My time in the classroom is almost always simultaneously exhausting and life-giving. If you are a runner, you get it. After a good run, you can be exhausted and also energized at the same time. I regularly experience the teacher’s version of the “runner’s high.” I love my work. I am “occupied with the joy of [my] heart,” as Solomon put it (Ecclesiastes 5:20).
But this was not always the case. I used to work for a bank. On the surface, it was a great job—good pay, great hours, amazing benefits—but it wasn’t quite right for me. I was a terrible banker and routinely hauled in to my manager’s office because my numbers were so low. Mine was a sales position, and I was a lousy salesman. I eventually tried a position in the back office, thinking that might be the promised land because there were no sales to be had in that area. But, alas, I was still being measured, though in seconds rather than dollars.
During that season, being thankful for work took a lot of, well, work. This is something we all experience at one time or another. Perhaps that’s why God gives us a reminder in His Word: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). There are times when our passions, strengths, and experience all collide in our work, and thankfulness just flows out without effort. At other times, our thankfulness becomes an exercise of faith, as we trust that God is using our experiences to shape us into people who reflect His Son. It is then that we must remember we are really working for the Lord, and He sees every small sacrifice we make to get a job done.
My job as a banker was never a great fit for me, but I am thankful for the experience. Not only did God use it to provide for my family during a time of transition, but He’s still using it to show me how blessed I am today to be working at a place I love. In the end, it is God who gives life, and not our work, so let’s be thankful for every good gift that comes from His hand, even the ones that may not seem good in the moment.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond