Think back to the most boring, energy-sucking job you’ve ever had. Maybe it was your high school job at a fast food restaurant. Maybe it was a tour of duty you did doing retail at the mall. Maybe it was detasseling corn in the heat of the summer sun. What made it so awful? Was it a micro-managing boss? Dry, repetitive work? A complete disconnect between the work and any higher purpose?
Now, think to your BEST job. (Hopefully it’s the one you have now.) What makes it the best? The freedom to be creative? The feeling that you’re doing something that makes the world a better place? A sense that you continue to get better and better at your job?
Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, says that we need three things: autonomy, mastery and meaning. Those things, more than anything else, drive us to do our best work. (To learn more about this theory watch this great animated video or on Ted Talks.) Although some of what Pink, writing for a business audience, doesn’t seem immediately applicable to church life, just scratch below the surface and you’ll find many connections.
What people crave most — meaning in their work — is what a life of faith offers in spades. There IS a connection about what we do with our time and how God is moving and shaking in the world. Better yet, we can HELP God do a little more if our life’s work is really embedded in a sense of deeper meaning and purpose. God wants us to transform the world so that it is filled with justice, peace and mercy. What better motivation can we ask for?
What is the thing about your faith that motivates you, even on those dark, dreary days? What keeps you going, even when you think you’ve run out of steam?