God’s Secret (to Contentment at Work)

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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“I don’t deserve to be treated like this,” the patient yelled at me.

Neither did I.

“If the doctor is running late, I should be called. Don’t you know that I have better things to do with my time?”

Didn’t he know that I had better things to do with mine?

Just look at my degree. I should be exegeting Ephesians and dazzling the audience with my brilliance.

After four years of all-nighters, Greek and Hebrew translations, and theological games of “Luther says,” I hung my masters of theology shingle on the door and was ready—to take a job as a medical receptionist. How was this work going to further God’s kingdom? My friends were thriving in their ministries and businesses, glowing as God used them. My purpose-driven life, on the other hand, had screeched to a halt. I was disappointed with my work, and I began to resent my coworkers and patients.

However, God was not done with my education, and his classroom was this office.

These days, liberal arts degrees are used more often to answer phones than to wax Shakespearean. Many find contentment and meaning in their job is a rare thing indeed. In fact, Paul describes contentment as a secret, something not everyone comes by.

In Philippians, Paul beckons his listeners so that they crouch close, striving to hear his whispers. “I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing,” he says.

Secret, eh? The audience leans in nearer.

“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13, NET).

We love to quote that verse when faced with a grueling task, like leaving everything to become a missionary in Iraq or standing in front of hundreds to preach the gospel message.

But what about times of mundane poverty? Perhaps God wants you to love your coworker by giving up your coveted lunch hour and listening without judgment to her screechy voice.

Or serve the customer with a smile, even though he spits unjustified criticism at you.

Or continue to honor and respect your boss when he takes credit for the work you’ve done?

We don't find spiritual meaning in the great moments or in monster spiritual victories. We find meaning in the everyday. Often, this means embracing the task at hand, doing it as to the Lord even though that task feels like busywork that your crazy manager deemed more important than your project. It means loving your neighbor as yourself even though that neighbor is the patient yelling at you because the doctor is late.

God calls us to serve him in all things. Nothing is insignificant in the kingdom of God. Jesus gives us strength to honor God in the most mundane tasks.

And that is God’s secret to contentment.

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