If you asked me five years ago why I woke up every morning before the miserable crack of dawn and went to work , I might have told you some pretty common answers:
- I’m interested in my industry
- It’s what I’m supposed to do
- I want to get a promotion
- I need money to live
But if you asked me that same question today, I would give you MUCH different answers. God has changed my heart about WHY I work and the result is that I am SATISFIED with my work for the VERY FIRST TIME in my life. I’m 39 so I feel like I got to this “satisfaction” ball a little late. I hope you’re off to a MUCH better start than I!
My story starts back in 2013 when I had achieved everything that my parents had ever wanted for me:
- A Masters of Business Administration degree (on full scholarship)
- A high-powered consulting job with Deloitte Consulting
- An expensive Northern Virginia condominium
- A luxury hybrid commuter SUV
The problem was, I was miserable. Even though I loved helping my clients (when I had access to them), I hated the part of the job where I was supposed to use the trust I had earned with them to sell them more services. I didn’t believe they needed all those extra services (often because they didn’t have the skills to really get the value from the expense). Soon, I had been marked with the word “integrity” all over my annual evaluations. I thought being labeled as having integrity was a good thing (after all, it is one of the seven Army Values) but apparently this was a warning to other project managers that I wouldn’t up-sell clients.
Even though I loved helping launch the Rosslyn chapter of Deloitte Christian Fellowship, it wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied and one night, I prayed to the Lord —
Me: God, my signing bonus is almost up and I HATE it at Deloitte! All they want me to do is sell, sell, sell. Tell me where I should go next.
God: Seminary. Army.
Me: Army? Are you kidding?!?! Don’t you remember what it was like the last time I was there?
God: Back then, the Army influenced you but now you can influence the Army. Besides, if everyone who knew how to care for hurting Soldiers left the Army, who would be left to take care of them?– Dialogue with God, 2013
Ever the obedient Soldier, I called the Army to find out if it was even possible to “get back in”. I learned that I had been a casualty of technology; a glitch had kept me off of all rosters for over two years and they no longer knew I existed. A couple of keystrokes later, I was “back in” but this time, I vowed to change WHY I serving the in Army.
My Pre-prayer WHY (About Me)
- I want to prove all the naysayers wrong
- I want to succeed in the Army
- I want to make money
- I want to change the world
- I want job-security
My Post-prayer WHY (About Others)
- I want to help hurting Soldiers
- I want to have a positive impact on my units
- I want to become the kind of leader God wants me to be
It has been seven years since I discovered my real WHY for working in the Army and it is the ONLY thing that keeps me going when everything else in the Army turns on me. When my bosses promise me one thing and then do another, when my commanders try to mess up my career because I do not serve their unethical agendas, when personnel are so poorly trained and ill-equipped that getting basic administrative processes done is like pulling teeth, I remind myself of lesson five:
Lesson five: All work is about serving others.
Today, my company’s vision is all about serving others. In fact, we are designed to employ the employment-challenged, which include the disabled, student, underemployed and house-parent — all people in stages of life that require the understanding and assistance of their communities. How this plays out practically is that I structure their part-time schedules to be hyper-flexible and try to help them achieve their life-goals EVEN WHEN it might hurt my company to do so.
For example, when our vacant stager of two years, who was also a stay-at-home-mom, reported her kids were both entering public school in September and she would need to quit to find full-time work, I was happy for her and offered help in the transition. When our occupied stager lost her other part-time job and got a new job that severely limited her work availability, I gave her a three month absence to try to make it work; when she couldn’t, I was still happy that she got another job that met her family’s needs more than ours did. When our service manager of one year who was also an entrepreneur mentioned she needed more work, I recommended her to my husband’s friend for potential full-time employment, even if that meant we could lose her.
Why do I help my workers achieve their life goals EVEN IF IT HURTS ME? Because that’s called “sacrificial love”. Jesus did it for me and the least I can do is do it for others.
Close your eyes and ask God to remind you of all the times people sacrificed their wants for your needs. Let the memories come to your mind and flood you with joy. Write them down and thank God for them. Now, ask God if there’s one person for whom God wants you to sacrifice your comfort so that they can also feel the love of God. Write it down and pray over it for one week until you feel confident you know what God wants you to do. Then, do it.
Lord, thank you for teaching us that God is love and demonstrating your love for us that before we were ever loving to you, you sacrificed your human life to set us free from selfishness, pain and eternal death. I choose to change my mind today about the reason why I go to work. Please help me to transform my thoughts into pure thoughts, seeking to serve others only for the reward of seeing them experience joy. Amen.