A CAUTIONARY TALE
Would you agree that our life’s purpose is bigger than getting a paycheck?
I’ve experienced how easy it is to slip into believing that our purpose comes from our employer.
Subtle but far-reaching, I think this is something that many of my mission-minded friends can relate. Acknowledging it though might first require being thoughtfully honest with ourselves.
Allow me to attempt providing context by sharing from a bit of the space in which I work, the faith-based sector.
We’re on staff at a church that’s alive, growing, and where lives are positively impacted, even transformed. God’s moving, people are excited, and our calendar is overloaded. Life change isn’t just good; it’s awesome. Right? Of course. We also have thirty-seven t-shirts, a few hats, and a drawer full of pens plastered with our church logo and web address. Our social media is saturated with the goings on at our job. I mean our church. Our profile picture is us on stage, at an event, or even the graphic for our new message series. Why? Because we love what we do and are passionate about what we’re doing.
If not a church, maybe you work at a company that’s crushing it. The mission is compelling, the revenue is rolling in, you’re hiring people left, and right, it’s a great place to work. You take great pride in both the work you do and the results of the organization. You too have many t-shirts, hats, pens, coffee mugs, key chains, laptop stickers, and embroidered jackets covered with your brand.
What’s wrong with all the swag? All the merch? Nothing! But here’s where things get disturbing.
Who’s purpose are you living? Yours or theirs?
Saying, ‘Both’ is where the lines get blurred.
It’s a beautiful thing when the mission, vision, and values of your employer align with or bring definition to your mission, vision, and values.
It’s a beautiful thing until we believe our purpose in life is to fulfill the purpose of our employer.
To say it another way, the adrenaline that comes from fulfilling our employer’s mission becomes the very thing that fulfills us.
When this happens, proceed with caution.
Who you are and who God is calling you to be might align nicely with where your paycheck comes from, but his mandate on your life isn’t confined to your employer. It’s much bigger than that.
Several years ago, I experienced this first hand. And, without exaggeration, I see it all the time; when someone believes their purpose is to fulfill the purpose of their employer, they’re completely lost when they’re no longer employed.
My suggestion is that, while it’s fantastic to work for a place that aligns with your passion and purpose, be careful, even vigilant not to lose yourself, lose your soul by allowing your identity to become all about where you work and the team you’re on.
Have a life outside of your paycheck. Grow in areas outside of your job description and build relationships outside of the office. When the day comes that your employment changes, you won’t feel lost and searching for purpose because you’re living your purpose, not that of your employer.
Here’s another surprising benefit; those who do this well, who’s purpose isn’t confined to their paycheck, those who are fulfilled outside of the 9 to 5, are often the best employees and team members. Why? They not only love their work, but they also love their life.