What to do if You Hate Your Job but Can’t Quit (Colossians 3:23)
Two years ago, I wrote a blog to help Christians who hate their jobs but can’t quit. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common situation. Since that time, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of work upside down. A lot of people have been working remotely from home and would prefer to continue in that format while others lost their jobs and have had to accept new positions they don’t like in order to pay their bills. As a result, I have been asked to update and rerun that earlier blog.
Would it surprise you to learn that almost 80 percent of working Americans dislike their jobs? It’s true. Business research confirms this sad statistic year after year. Would it surprise you to learn that a lot of people who worked remotely from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic don’t want to return to the old way of doing their jobs? Reasons given most often for job dissatisfaction are meaninglessness, poor supervision, bad coworker relationships, unsatisfying work, no advancement potential, the lack of prestige, a toxic work environment, and poor pay. Increasingly, believers are adding anti-Christian bias to this list. Regardless of the reasons behind the dissatisfaction, spending 40 or more hours a week doing something you hate can grind you down. If you are among the 80 percent of people who dislike their jobs but for practical or personal reasons cannot quit and find something better, do not despair. Believe it or not, you can find joy in even the worst work situations.
There is good news for Christians who feel stuck in jobs they hate. When you come to fully understand God’s purpose for your work, you gain a new and better perspective on your job; a perspective that will allow you to find joy in even the worst job. When you understand God’s purpose for your work, an interesting realization will begin to peek through the clouds of desperation and dissatisfaction: In carrying out God’s purpose for your work, you may be able to do the most good in the worst situations. I do not claim you should stay in a job you hate if there are better alternatives available to you. By all means, seek the best possible employment situation you can find. But if you are toiling away in a job you hate, unable to leave for a better job, don’t despair. God has a purpose for you in the work you do no matter how distasteful you find your job.
Begin by accepting that you work first for God and second for your employer. This is what is meant in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” Pray that God will show you his purpose in your work. When you understand His purpose, you can rise above the factors that cause you to hate your job because now you have a higher calling: serving God through your work. You can find satisfaction, hope, and even joy in pursuing God’s purpose for your work no matter how distasteful that work is to you in human terms. The contributions you make by fulfilling God’s purpose are easily more important than how you feel about such things as your supervisor, coworkers, the job itself, the work environment, your status, and opportunities for advancement.
Let me reiterate that I am not saying you should remain in a job you hate if there are better opportunities available to you. Rather, I am saying that you can find joy in even the worst job until you are able to find a better job, and even if you can’t find a better job. The key to finding joy in any job is to understand and accept God’s purpose for your work and pursue that purpose with commitment, determination, and dedication. When your perspective on work changes from whether or not you like what you do for a living to serving God your feelings about your job can change from drudgery to joy.
Here are just a few of the God-serving purposes some of my counseling clients have discovered for their work over the years:
One individual found that God was using his unhappy work situation to allow him to set an example of Christ-like sacrifice for his family and coworkers. By persevering in a job he hated so his children could grow up in a community they loved, this individual taught his children what sacrifice looks like in terms they could understand and relate to.
One individual concluded God wanted her to influence her unbelieving coworkers for Christ by reflecting His image in how she did her job, treated them, responded to unhappy customers, solved problems, resolved conflict, and persevered during times of adversity.
One individual found that God was using him to demonstrate a better way of handling diversity on the job. His company’s workforce was diverse in terms of race, gender, age, education level, politics, and religion. As a result, there was constant conflict. In response, management had imposed a number of politically-correct policies that just seemed to make matters worse. My client was certain God wanted him to show his coworkers how a Biblically-correct approach was better than the repressive rules of political-correctness. His motto became “Beatitudes not platitudes.”
God can use you for good in even the worst work situation. Pray for guidance in discovering his purpose in your work. When you discover God’s purpose, you can find joy in even the worst job. If you need help in this area beyond the few words in this blog, refer to my book, Christians on the Job: Winning at Work without Compromising Your Faith. This book is filled with guidance and real-life examples you may find helpful.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com