We’ve been talking about work and rest. One of the things that affects work is the drive to climb the greasy pole to the top of your profession. There is an inbuilt expectation that people must progress higher up into management. In fact, promotion is rewarded and those who are content where they are, are often seen as lacking drive as well as ambition. The great fear is that you will get left behind. Meanwhile, some people seem built for careerism. They join the team for a year or two but you know that they are already planning for their next move. They have very little interest in the work, they just want to make their mark and move on, even if that mark proves short lived or deeply unhelpful in the long run.
I would like to encourage you to value your work over your career. Find joy in the actual accomplishments you achieve, the relationships you build, the end product or service you provide, the satisfaction that creates and the success you achieve together with your colleagues. Learn to enjoy life now, doing the work you have been given now. I believe that this reflects a Christian approach to work. We value finding the secret of contentment and we learn to avoid the idolatry of finding our identity and value in our workplace status and pay packet.
Does this mean that you should never go for promotion> Of course not, otherwise where would the Christians be in leadership? However rather than just going for the promotion because it is what is expected, try considering these tests.
- Are other people encouraging you to take on the role because they recognise that you have the gifts and character for it.
- Will the job be one that you find satisfaction in, knowing you are doing something useful, productive and fruitful?
- Have you reached the stage where in fact to accomplish the work you are called to do that you need to move into a role which gives you greater influence over it.
The last point is particularly important. My industry role involved making changes to processes and systems. I found that in order to effect that change I did have to eventually take on a management role. Meanwhile, I have also advised other people that a move into a senior management role would not be selfish but it is only from there that they will be able to advocate for their team and work to protect them from dangers that might creep in. I had reached that cross-roads not long before I left industry to go to Theological College. I realised that the winds of change were coming and if I’d stayed I would have needed to change role in order to protect what we had been working towards. As it happened, in the end I had another calling on my life.
So, in short, learn to find the secret of contentment at work.