Doing meaningful work is something that I still sometimes struggle with. In the past ten years I had several career shifts—corporate, freelance, work-from-home, small business, back to corporate, and a couple of side hustles too.
I’m still constantly evaluating myself, thinking about where I really want to invest my time in. One thing I know for sure, God has a unique purpose for ME, in whatever season I’m in, and all my personal and professional experiences, including my God-given gifts, passions, and dreams, are designed for the work that He has called me to do.
So granted I’m still trying to discover this, and maybe I’m not really an “expert” at this yet, but I do know someone who lived his life doing work that changed lives, challenged world views, and has ultimately brought glory to God in every way. His name is John Stott, he passed away four years ago, and he described work this way:
“Work is the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God.
Now, using John Stott’s definition of “work”, I encourage all of us to ask ourselves these questions to assess our jobs, businesses, and other professional or creative pursuits.
1. How much energy do you exert to do your work?
First of all, I love how John Stott defined work as an “expenditure of energy”.
Is there a job that doesn’t require any effort anymore? (If there’s one, where do I sign up?) One could only wish to land in that kind of job! The thing is, when you passionately exert physical or mental energy into something, that thing becomes important to you.
Having a creative business is a lot of hard work. Some people resign from their 8 to 5 jobs to make a living out of their passions, but end up working late into the night baking cookies, handcrafting necklaces, designing logos and websites. They find themselves investing even more time and energy than when they were employed! And yet they couldn’t be happier with their choice.
But this doesn’t apply to creative business owners only. Some of us do 8 to 5 jobs and extend working hours without pay only because we enjoy what we do and we want to produce the best possible output. Even passive income business models require a lot of work before they start earning too.
The point is, we invest time and effort and energy into something because what we do is important to us. How much energy and passion do you put into your work?
2. Are you working to be of service to others?
When we work, we all do some form of service to our bosses, to the organization we’re part of, our families, our country. But are we intentional in being of service to them? Are we doing our work willingly or grudgingly? When was the last time we saw our jobs in light of service and not just for the purpose of earning an income?
What if we start seeing work as service? If not to our boss and clients, to our family and the bigger community we’re part of? What if we start seeing work as the legacy we’ll leave our children?
And what if we start seeing our jobs and businesses—whether we’re making accessories, or baking cookies, or churning out numbers in an Excel file—as service to God, the Real Boss up there?
I think this shift in perspective will change the way we work in so many levels.
3. Does it make you feel fulfilled?
Aha! So it’s not selfish to do work that fulfills us after all. Fulfillment encompasses many things, beyond financial fulfillment. True, it is important that our jobs and businesses sustain our daily financial needs, but we also want it to make us feel happy and alive.
The thing is, we can only stay in a job that doesn’t make us happy too long. Sooner or later, salary or job security just won’t cut it anymore and we would ache to do what we really wanted to do in the first place, whatever that is. Story of my life ;)
We can all attest to this one way or another. I believe we do our best work when we feel most fulfilled.
4. Does your work benefit a bigger community?
Finding one’s tribe is very important if we want to launch a business, a cause, or a project. In creating and implementing a Content Marketing strategy, I always raise the importance of being part of a community; better yet, of building a community around your brand. Without a community, your business can only go so far.
It’s an exciting time to be part of the local artist community today! In Manila alone, it’s impossible to not find a specific group you can be part of—there are communities for Moms, calligraphers and letterers, handmade enthusiasts, photographers, designers. You just have to know where to look, and have the courage to make yourself counted.
But this doesn’t only mean finding people you share common interests with; more importantly, this means finding people whom you can support and grow with. I can’t emphasize enough how essential this is not only in expanding your network and market, but also to keep you going.
Being part of Pursuit Manila has been a real blessing to me. In less than 7 months I have gotten to know some of the most passionate and Jesus-loving female creatives I’ve had the pleasure of working with and growing with. Even more amazing is, associating myself with people who uphold the same faith and values only means attracting the right kind of business and opportunities together.
5. Does it bring glory to God?
For me this is the most important thing. Whatever I’m doing, I strive my best to let His light shine in my work, and to bring Him glory. I want to do work that has eternal value. Something that won’t only serve my family’s needs here on earth, but also reflect back what God has given me to begin with and in the process draw more people to Him.
At the end of the day, there’s got to be more to our work than just paying bills. Doing meaningful work does not only benefit yourself, it has to be done in service to others, to benefit a bigger community, and to bring glory to God.
I mean, we need to work anyway, might as well make it count. ;)