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When You Hate Your Job

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When I was 14 years old, I got my first job. I was so excited to know that I would be making a full $300 a month! It was a job behind the counter at “The Grill,” a restaurant started inside the megachurch where I grew up. It only took a week for me to realize how toxic the environment really was.

Within two weeks, the only other teenager working with me just walked off the job. Being young and just beginning to think critically of situations, I made some pretty typical mistakes. Each of them were met, not with guidance and further training, but with threats, screaming, and more than a few implications that I must be stupid. Since it was located inside the church, often this would happen in front of my friends. It was emasculating and demoralizing.

I often left work feeling crushed and exhausted. It was a relief when I was in school where I felt like I was succeeding at something. After a while, I finally just let the exhaustion take over, allowing my grades to drop so my parents would force me to quit. I gave my two-week notice during my 90-day evaluation.

It’s almost a right of passage to experience a job situation that is either frustrating or demoralizing. We’ve all been there at some point or another. The hardest thing is to realize you’re stuck there.

For Such a Time as This

I love the story of Esther. Her situation was much worse than employment troubles. After the previous Queen snubbed her husband, she was dethroned and a reality show style competition took place to replace her. At the end of the day, the King cared deeply for Esther and she was chosen as the new Queen.

As a Jew, Esther was in a unique situation. Her people were scattered across the Kingdom and Haman, the King’s chief advisor, was hell-bent on destroying them. Esther was the only one who could intervene and it meant potentially risking her life. Distraught and confused, she went to Mordecai, the man who had raised her, and he offered this advice:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14)”

In other words, “Don’t you think God might have put you in this position to maybe save us? Don’t you think this might be the entire reason you are Queen?” In the end, Esther successfully embarked on a plot that exposed Haman and saved the Jews. Mordecai was right – God could have saved the Jews using anyone else but he was giving her the privilege of being used in a very painful situation.

There are three things to remember when you’re stuck in a terrible job situation.

1.) You’re there to learn.

Just as a great job with an encouraging boss will give you a chance to learn, there is a lot that can be gained from seeing how not to do things. Working at The Grill was not my last brush with terrible bosses but it prepared me for those future situations. I figured out how to handle them better. Knowing I will someday have my own staff, I’ve also noted what was so discouraging about those situations and how to avoid putting my own team in the same spot. It has taught me how to guide and empathize with those who are working on different tasks for me.

2.) You’re there to grow.

There is a certain kind of wisdom that can only be gained when you’re faced with inappropriate confrontation. Knowing when to speak and when to shut up only comes from experience. Your discouraging or impossible job situation may be the chance for you to learn how to respectfully stand up for your convictions without defensively guarding your own selfish pride. Those tough spots can simultaneously teach you courage and humility. They will also teach you to be grateful for the positive work experiences you enjoy later on.

3.) You’re there to serve.

Like Esther, God has likely allowed you to stay in that job for a reason. There are likely others who are experiencing the same daily beat down in the office and they need some support. But you may even be there to serve the one dishing it out.

My Dad has always encouraged me to “kill them with kindness.” In other words, keep working hard, keep being friendly, and do your job for the One who is sovereign and put you there “for such a time as this.” Who knows? The trust you will gain from your boss may even give you the opportunity to speak into his or her life.

Discuss: What is your toughest work experience and how did God use you or help you grow in that situation?

Posted in: Career

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  • Josh Fortney

    Good word Matt!

    I came across this in my facebook newsfeed and it was perfectly timed. I needed this to help me refocus what it is I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Great reminder and great example from Esther.

    thanksJosh

    • http://www.mattmorrison.org/ Matt Morrison

      Thanks Josh! I hope everything is going well with your ministry.