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job satisfaction

“I glorified you on earth by completing  the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)

“Lord, grant us: in our work, satisfaction; in our study, wisdom; in our pleasure, gladness; and in our love, loyalty.”  (William Barclay)  Fred Smith reflected on this prayer, specifically the request about satisfaction in work: 

In our work, satisfaction...”  Peter Drucker told our son , “Let the task be the reward.”  He was saying money isn’t the the full reward.  It is a necessary component, but shouldn’t be the primary goal.  I played golf with a CEO who lost $80 million in a corporate debacle.  His comment to me was, “Fred, I wasn’t in it solely for the money.  When I am gone, what I contributed will live on in my industry."  What a pity it would have been if money had been the measure of his satisfaction.

I asked Seth Macon, the retired Senior Vice President of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, what his greatest satisfaction was in
his 40+year career. “The present leaders are men I selected and trained.”  His eyes were on the future; his work was to build continuity.

I have 4 elements necessary in a job that produces satisfaction:

1. Provides a sustaining income.  Money isn’t the object, but it is important.  I have been poor and I have been comfortable- the latter gives me more flexibility.  Money isn’t to be an idol; it is a tool.  Money provides options.

2. Serves a common good.  The Puritans called this “fulfilling our calling.”  Jesus “went about doing good.”

3. Produces meaning.  Viktor Frankl wrote that man searches for meaning.  Katherine Graham, CEO of the Washington Post companies said, “To love what I do and know it makes a difference, how can anything be more fun?”
4. Uses our uniqueness.    If we do not contribute our uniqueness to the world, then there is really no reason for us to have been born.  Each of us has a responsibility to identify our giftedness and a stewardship to develop it.


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