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Summary: A sermon on job satisfaction. Do you have a dead-end "job" or a holy "vocation"? Work worthy of your calling.

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I’d like to read to you a workplace memo on the subject of “Absenteeism”…

“The frequent absences by personnel have been brought to the attention of the company executives, and the following changes will be in effect immediately:

-Sickness: There is no excuse. We will no longer accept your doctor’s statement as proof. If you are able to go to your doctor you are able to come to work. Convalescent leave is also not permitted. Recover at your desk.

-Death (other than your own): This is no excuse. Someone with less responsibility can attend to the arrangements.

-Emergency leave: This unfortunate practice reveals a woefully lack of planning and priorities and will no longer be tolerated.

-Major surgery: We no longer allow this practice. Operations are not authorized, so do not consider having anything removed.

-Death (your own): This will be accepted as a valid reason for absence; however, we require a two-week notice, and it is your responsibility to train a replacement to perform your job.

Maybe someone here feels like this memo came from where they work! When I served in the Army, not everyone felt like they were “being all they could be”. This was largely du to: “downsizing”, “doing more with less”, frequent deployments, constant change, a promotion “up or out” policy and a “zero-defects mentality,” and you can see that morale wasn’t always so great.

On the other hand, many of us of us stayed in because we felt pride in serving our country, we enjoyed the benefits and recognition, the opportunity for travel and continuing education, and most of us found our work challenging and exciting. We felt we were accomplishing something of value.

I used to conduct morale sensing sessions with the troops. I called them “A rap with the Chap”. Officers and NCOs weren’t invited, so soldiers could speak candidly and anonymously. I’ve learned since retiring from the Army that job stress isn’t exclusive to the military--it can affect every profession.

A Gallop Poll indicates that half our workforce would’ve chosen a different career path if they knew then what they know now. People don’t prayerfully consider their careers. They “fall into” a job, take what’s available, or “follow in their parent’s footsteps”…and then find plenty of time for regret.

I’ve known a lot of people with poor job satisfaction. They were unhappy in their professions and convinced they were in dead-end jobs. They hated going to work. There may be a variety of reasons. I think the root cause is often a lack of calling. Are we simply drawing a paycheck, or do we really believe in what we’re doing? Are we convinced that God wants us where we’re at? Do we have a “job” or a “vocation”? A job puts bread on the table; a vocation is something we find satisfaction and purpose in. Have we considered what God thinks about what we do for a living? A good friend of mine understood this concept of calling. He referred to himself as an “ordained plumber.”

Sometimes job stress work is about one’s boss. I’ve had some great bosses and some who were downright abusive. One thing I learned over my years in the military is to find out what my supervisor wants. That’s not always easy. Expectations may be assumed but not voiced, which is frustrating; it’s like driving with an un-posted speed limit--you don‘t know you’ve broken the rules till you’re pulled over. Some people attempt to work without a written job description, which is a no-win situation. It’s essential to schedule a conference early on to clarify your role and your boss’s expectations.

The next essential task is to slightly adjust the Golden Rule. We do unto our bosses, not as we might like done to us, but as they want done unto them. We should never assume a supervisor’s wishes based on what we would want if we were in his or her shoes. A company commander said to me once, “My key to success has been finding out exactly what the Colonel wants and giving it to him.” This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people resist operating this way; it goes against their grain.

This doesn’t mean we obey when we’re told to do something wrong. The workplace can be a minefield of ethical dilemmas ready to ensnare us. When directed to do something morally wrong (padding a report, lying about a company practice, participating in a questionable activity, etc), we have several options…

-We can appeal to our authority and try to change our boss’s mind;

-We can appeal to higher authority (go up the “chain-of-command”)

-We can go over everyone’s head and pray!

-We can ask for clarification;

-We can request the directive in writing;

-We can request for relief-in-protest;

-We can refuse to obey an unlawful order and accept the consequences of refusing to violate our principles;

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