Study hard so you can get a good, high paying job and you’ll be happy

I know, I know… The title’s a bit wordy but we’ve all heard that line in one form or another. Right?

They told us that if we get a good job, we’ll be able to afford nice things. That’s what life is about… “Lifestyle”.

We bought into it. We either studied hard, worked our butt off or perhaps we are up to our eyeballs in debt because we’re using credit to float the lifestyle. Whatever avenue was used, here we are, we made it.

So we eat in the trendy restaurants, dress to impress and check out the latest “must watch” show on our new gadget that will be outdated by the time the episode is over.

Yet, there are those quiet moments, we sit on that contemporary couch, look around and say to ourselves, “Is this it? If I’m living “the life”, why do I feel empty? Why do I feel unfulfilled?”

Zombies & Corpses

We were led to believe that lifestyle will make us happy. We roam around like zombies, searching for the next thing to consume. Have you ever seen a zombie movie where they look satisfied? That’s exactly how we are. Once the show is over, the meal is eaten or the novelty wears off, we feel empty again.

We live in a “consumer” culture but we are simply not designed that way. Consuming alone will never satisfy us.

What went wrong?

Don’t stress, you’re not alone. So let’s take a minute to understand what went wrong. For most of our parents, life was tough when they were growing up. Money was scarce and they had to make do.

The obvious conclusion when looking “across the tracks”, at those who seemed to be living better is that lifestyle is the key to happiness. The only way to attain that is to get a high paying job.

They offered us their best answer and much to their dismay, they watch their kids abandon these “amazing” jobs and we seem more lost than ever. So what went wrong?

Well, nothing went wrong. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, human needs are subdivided. We have our physiological needs, safety, love, esteem and finally self-actualization needs. Our parents were brought up at the lower end due to their circumstances and thanks to their hard work, we reached the top of the pyramid and we have no idea how to meet the last need.

Do what you love & you will be happy…

Another common misconception is, maybe I got into the wrong profession. If only, I could do what I love, then I’ll be happy. Growing up, I used to watch wildlife documentaries and think that being a zoologist or marine biologist was the coolest job ever.

Recently, I was watching an interview with a marine biologist and he mentioned that a good chunk of his work involves analyzing sediment. That doesn’t sound very exciting. My point is, no one is going to pay you to swim with fish all day and every job has boring elements in it. It’s not always fun and games.

Another thing to consider is that what you love may not be in high demand. A college can offer a degree in an area you love but that doesn’t mean you will be able to find a job with that degree. In most instances, these jobs are scarce, and you’ll need to be the cream of the crop to get it.

Lastly, your passion may not pay very well. It may seem like I was knocking lifestyle earlier, not at all. Lifestyle complements your life but, it will not give you the fulfillment you seek. Are you prepared to sacrifice money to do what you love? Most people are not able to do so.

The reality of the situation

You may not have the money to study. You may be limited in your career options based on where you live and what industry dominates that region. The truth of the matter is that the world requires many products and services that aren’t very exciting.

I audit businesses that export goods and I’ve watched people in big businesses manufacture very boring products but there’s a demand for it and the company makes millions.

For example, manufacturing nuts and bolts may be boring but there’s a demand for it everywhere so there’s money to be made. The world won’t give you money to be happy, it gives you money for being useful and providing what it needs to function.

Finding fulfillment

How can we find fulfillment in our work, no matter what job it is? Let me offer a Biblical answer that works for me. The Bible talks about servant leadership.

Oh relax, I can hear you guys moaning and groaning. The word servant causes a gag reflex in us. We think, “Ew, you want me to be a servant? No thank you.”

God doesn’t want you to be a footstool for others. He wants you to serve your gift and you will love every moment of it. This is how you lead. This is the road to self-actualization.

The 5-fold ministry

Check this out, Ephesians 4:11-12:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ

 Our gifts can be broadly divided into 5 categories.
  • Apostolic – Innovators
  • Evangelical – Sales
  • Prophetic – Administrators
  • Pastoral – Caregivers (Customer Service)
  • Teachers – Well, this one is self-explanatory

Here’s the interesting bit, every organization needs these gifts. The gifts are industry independent so no matter where you are right now, you can use it.

Proverbs 18:16:

“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

You will be amazed at what happens when you apply your gift. People have different methods of getting ahead in the workplace. Some people work their butt off & put in many hours, others play the social game and well… kiss butt. However, it is very difficult to compete with a person’s gifts.

Your gift can make your age, rank, experience in the industry or even how long you’ve worked in the organization irrelevant.

It is possible to start a job, be the youngest with the least experience and be known by the top brass in 3 months. It is possible to be the only non-manager invited by the director to sit in the management meetings. Only applying your God-given gift can do that.

I have seen these results in my life (apostolic gift) and my father’s life (prophetic gift). In most cases, your gift lies outside the confines of your job description. So keep that in mind but I guarantee you that your work will satisfy you on a level you never thought possible.

Look for ways to apply your gift to your workplace.

Apostolic gift – Looks for ways to remove bottlenecks in processes. Is there anything that can be done, simpler, faster or cheaper? Apply your mind to it.

Evangelical gift– Can you improve sales or marketing? You may not even be in the department but you can spot an opportunity from your vantage point that marketing missed. What could be done? Perhaps you need to assist them in your free time so that when a vacancy comes up, they will have you in mind. Sometimes, God will give you favor and management will create a position for you.

Prophetic gift – Let’s be honest. Most people hate paperwork and it might be second nature to you. Are you a master administrator? How can you help your organization?

Pastoral gift – Companies are made up of people, not processes. How can you help morale in the organization? How can you improve customer service? People often feel like the company takes them for granted. How can you touch the lives of the people around you?

Teaching gift – One of the biggest problems in organizations is retaining knowledge. How can you help to facilitate training? Can you simplify the standard operating procedures? How can you teach those around you?

The possibilities are endless, you just need to think outside the box. As you work, ask yourself questions. When you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. You’ll be amazed at how you will go to bed with a question and wake up with the answer.

But Clint, you don’t know my boss! They will use me and not reward my efforts.

Fair point, I was once in a company where I was applying these principles. I printed the compliments received from customers and directors, I documented all that I had accomplished in the last year. It was neatly filed and when my branch manager saw me walk into my appraisal with it, she immediately blurted out… “We can only give you an 8% increase!”

Was I upset? You bet! I was the youngest and least paid in the department. I was given all the crappy clients that required more time but brought in the least revenue and I handled all the IT issues in the branch.

Needless to say, my CV went out shortly afterward. I took the same file to the interview. Here’s the problem, this is how I solved it. Here’s what I did… And here’s the email from the Director. And so on and so forth. Potential is overrated, show them proof.

It wasn’t a competing company, it wasn’t even the same job. They hired me and I was earning twice as much. Remember, your gift is industry independent.

Yes, people will use you but… our God is faithful.

As you keep applying yourself, you’ll get better at wielding this powerful weapon that is your God-given gift. And you’ll have a blast while doing it. Happiness comes from producing, not consuming. Once you start applying your gift, you will find the satisfaction you desire and your income will improve with it.

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