Seven Steps to More Joyful Work

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Trinity University Speech Festival: 1967. The competition was fierce as opponents circled about reassuring one another that blood would flow as they clawed their way to first place. The drama was thick with tension and unpleasantness.

I waited my turn and focused on what my Mama told me: "Make your work a thing of joy and excellence!" Over and over, I repeated her words and visualized them. A few minutes later, my name was called for the final round, and I snapped into consciousness. Once on the stage, Mama's words silently spoke to me again—assuring me of personal success as long as I gave this task my best whole- bodied effort. Time passed quickly and magically, and I lost myself in the work with phenomenal love. With applause came exhaustion, pleasure, and gratitude. Win, lose, or draw, I was a winner.

Our attitudes about work, love, or play are so important. We always seem to think in terms of success or failure. Joy is not a given, but it can be created—even in the worst of times. It is all a matter of attitude.

How in the world do you get—and keep—this attitude of joy at work when circumstances are far less than acceptable? "God in the center," Mama would say. Easier said than done, right? Gradually, I have learned one of the best formulas for a God-based-work-attitude and action plan.

The Seven "Ups" for More Joyful Work:

  1. Wake Up! Psalm 118:24 reminds us: "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
  2. Dress Up! 1 Samuel 16:7 assures us: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
  3. Shut Up! Proverbs 13:3 promises us: "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."
  4. Stand Up! Galatians 6:9-10 instructs us: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give upl Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
  5. Look Up! Phillippians 4:13 inspires us: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
  6. Reach Up! Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
  7. Lift Up! Phillipians 4:6 emboldens us: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

These Seven "Ups" have helped me keep "God in the center," though I still have to work at it. I especially find the "Shut Up!" rule challenging these days. The lesson of quiet servant leadership is a fine gift for both the giver and the receiver.

Of course, I wasn't quiet at the Trinity Speech Festival years ago when I won first place . . . and a scholarship. By the grace of God, the Seven "Ups" provided the guidelines needed for joy in the work at hand.

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