On a great day, your job can be uplifting.
On a hard day, it can feel discouraging.
On a routine day, it can feel mundane.
But how do you insert more meaning into your workday, regardless of the situation?
When you look at scripture, you can see a God who wants your work to bring meaning to your life. You are created to work, to create, to build, to heal and to redeem.
But some days, it doesn’t feel that way. Work can feel like a transaction. An exchange of time for a paycheck. Or worse, an exchange of heartache that’s bigger than your paycheck.
God wants your work to be transformational. He sees your work, he’s in the midst of your work, and he wants to use your work to bring transformation to your life and the lives of others.
So, where do you start? How can you create more meaningful moments in your work day?
At Connexus we are tackling this question in a 3 part series called The Daily Grind.
But I’m also going to get super practical in answering this question here.
I recently asked a group of people at Connexus Church to answer one question:
“What are the meaningful moments you experience at work?”
I had over 135 responses, and I was struck by five things that I think are a picture of how you can leverage work to be a transformational experience today. How do you find meaning in your job
1. Gratitude brings disproportionate meaning.
This is probably the biggest surprise. I was amazed by how many people mention moments of being thanked or being shown kindness as bringing significant meaning.
Contractors remembered when a customer brought them a coffee as bringing them joy. One mentioned that sometimes, even on a money-losing project, the gratitude and kindness of a client made all the difference.
Teachers told stories of students saying, “I love being in your class” and medical professionals of patients who said, “thank you for your help.”
It did not matter the type of work; time after time, people wrote about the small moments when someone said thank you.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss. If you’re going to bring meaning to your workplace, start thanking people as much as you can and be kind. It is so clear – people do not forget gratitude. It fills their tank.
Bring transformation to your workplace by thanking the people around you. How do you find meaning in your job
2. Connection in hard times is even more meaningful than in the good times.
This was a big one. Lots of people shared about the meaning they experienced by connecting with someone.
Coworkers, team members, customers, students, patients, any relationship they had with someone was very powerful. It was overwhelmingly shared too.
People loved the chance to make memories with their team, connect with customers, and loved the in-between moments in the breakroom where they had honest conversations.
This isn’t overly surprising, but I noticed something else.
The most profound connections came in the painful or disappointing moments, not always the good times. Here’s what some people shared about these meaningful moments:
When I have a conversation with a teammate about real-life matters and help them through an issue they’re struggling with – even if it’s just listening or encouraging them to keep going.
The most meaningful moments for me are patient impact. Less pain, faster healing or ensuring they don’t “slip through the cracks”.
The moments that are most meaningful to me are the individual conversations I have with my students about what they’re going through. Sometimes they just need to unload.
When we think about connecting with people at work, we automatically think of light, easy ways of connecting. Perhaps we can also find profound meaning by leaning into the disappointing times?
By stepping out to connect with someone when they are facing a challenge or when things aren’t going well at work, you may find deeper meaning. Not only will you help them, but you may see yourself transformed. It’s messy, but it deeply touches our souls.
One person quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in their response,
For there can be no deep disappointment, where there is not deep love – MLK Disappointments are, in fact, an important part of the gift of work.
So well said. How do you find meaning in your job
3. Helping someone else win is better than winning.
This was a fun one. People found meaning when they could use their God-given gifts to help someone else discover something or solve an issue. They wanted to see others win.
Lots of people used the phrase “aha moments” or gave examples of helping a customer or student or co-worker solve their problem.
People found meaning when they could take their wiring, skills, or gifts and use that to help someone else discover something about their work, their life, or themselves.
On meaningful moments at work, one boss wrote:
Helping my staff improve their lives, not just their performance at work.
I love that. This boss finds meaning in using their gifting and position to help their employees succeed.
And this person was my favourite clear identification of using someone’s gift.
I love digging. I am a shovel guy.
He went on to share how he liked to help in physical and straightforward ways that get the job done for others.
So clear. No matter your job, look for how God has wired you and then use it to help other people succeed. Where can you help someone else win?
This makes it critical that you seek to understand how God has wired you if you want to discover ways to bring meaning to your work. Then look for ways to leverage who you are to help people.
If you are looking for help with this, check out these 3 Tests To Find Out How God Wired You. How do you find meaning in your job
4. Purpose intersecting with people is magic.
It was evident that those with a clear purpose in their work found a sense of meaning from it. They loved solving problems, helping people, building things, and moving the company mission forward. But that wasn’t enough.
Those people often mentioned these things in the context of connecting and collaborating with people. This seemed to be the sweet spot. It was connecting with people and working on a common purpose together.
The principle: It’s not just what you do, it’s who you do it with that brings meaning.
This makes sense when you think about it. Usually, when you look back on a job you had, you remember the people first, then the purpose that was accomplished.
Great people with no purpose can make it hard to find meaning in your work regularly.
Great purpose but difficult people means the job might be great, but the people will pull you down.
When bosses and employees can create environments of clear purpose and connected people, meaning seems to flourish. That’s worth paying attention to for any manager. How do you find meaning in your job
5. Inviting God into your daily work makes a difference.
This was a really interesting one. When asking about meaningful moments, a subset of people shared examples of inviting God into their workday.
It was as bold as having meaningful faith conversations with a coworker or as straightforward as inviting God to show them how to pray for people.
One person said:
When you ask God to guide you and to give you quality interaction with others and to be ready and then those moments happen!
I love it. If you are a follower of Jesus, this is important to think about. How often do you invite God into your work life? How often do you pray as you start each day and ask Him to help you see where he wants to use you and who he wants you to connect with?
From what I saw in several responses, it’s worth it. People who invited God into their daily work shared stories of seeing Him lead and guide them on many occasions.
This is a simple but significant way for you to find meaning in your work – by simply inviting God to open your eyes to what he is doing and what your role is in it.