My life sucks and it’s Adam’s fault

I get lots and lots of questions and comments each week.  And yes, I try to write in ways that prompt your thinking – and challenge some old traditional beliefs that may not actually be true.  We frequently establish our beliefs because of tradition and repetition – even if they are not true.

One self-defeating belief I see repeatedly is that I can remove responsibility for my miserable life by blaming Adam.  That God punished Adam by making him work.  Thus work for me now is a curse – a bitter pill – something to be endured but not enjoyed.  Here’s a crystal clear description from a reader this week:

I am a 48 yr.-old career changer who has fallen flat on his face financially after leaving my first career as a CAD operator to pursue my passion of teaching Bible.  I’ve invested too much into getting a master’s degree to turn back, so I feel like vocationally I’m back at square one, just starting out.  I’ve come to see that seeking after our “dream job” more often than not leads to disappointment and despair–especially as we age and feel we are running out of time.  We should rather learn to recognize the value in what we are already doing, and find our contentment in being good at it.  Remember, work is part of the curse incurred by Adam’s sin–we are not promised fulfillment in it.  God blesses each of us as He sees fit–some with great marriages, for instance, others with good health, and still others with rewarding careers.  Though we make our plans, ultimately it is He who directs our steps and determines our path.

Okay, so why try?  We are cursed because of Adam’s sin.  God doesn’t promise us fulfillment in our work.  Some enjoy it, some don’t.  It’s all a matter of chance.  Suck it up and accept your lot in life.

If I believed that I would close the doors of my business tomorrow.  Everything I teach and speak about promotes that work is a gift from God.  We have the privilege of integrating our God-given calling into fulfilling, purposeful and profitable work.  If you’re not experiencing that kind of work, don’t blame God.  We are not little robots that God delights in seeing miserable.  I believe it grieves Him to see us put up with work that does nothing but extract a paycheck.  Seeking after our “dream job” does not lead to “disappointment and despair” unless we were wishing and dreaming rather than creating a clear plan.

In Genesis 1 we read that God placed man in the garden to “tend and keep it.”  This was before any sin.  In Isaiah 65 we are told that in heaven we will have work assignments and will “fully enjoy the work of our hands.”  The Bible is full teachings regarding the benefits of work that matters.  Settling for less than enjoyable work is a cop-out; not a mature acceptance of some imagined punishment.

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60 Responses to “My life sucks and it’s Adam’s fault”

  1. Autumn Says:

    Haha, thanks for adding the “okay, so why try?” So many Christians have bought into the God is ultimately sovereign doctrine and remain passive.. its sad.. matter of fact, it kills! Thanks for sharing the truth!
    I am a videographer/video editor for Andrew Wommack Ministries, check him out at http://www.awmi.net, he gives all his teachings away for free and has a few things to say about the “Sovereignty of God”. :)

  2. Matt Says:

    I’m not religious but I do enjoy hearing Bible verses as they generally contain a lot of wisdom.

    I think a lot can be said for both sides. Earlier this year I left a job that was good, but not great, to try something that I thought would make me happier and more fulfilled. Now though, I find myself longing for my previous job thinking it suits my skills and interest much better.

    The lesson I’ve learned is that before you think the grass is greener on the other side, it might be better to treat your current line of work as if it is your passion. Maybe you’ll find it to be true.

  3. Bill Johnson Says:

    I loved your comment. People blaming others for their lack of fulfillment is the norm but going back to Adam is a bit extreme. I believe that God delights in seeing us engaging in our passions — our ‘work’. He likes to see us happy and fulfilled. He doesn’t want us to suffer but suffering can bring growth. Very few of us learn much from our successes. If we are wise, we will learn from our failures.

    Everybody in the Bible had ‘work’ to do. I delight that I am able to work and bring glory to Him through my efforts.

    If you believe work is a curse, you have already lost and you have missed out on one of the greatest blessings of this thing we call life. Life — and your work — should be a thrilling adventure. But your life is what your thoughts make it. If you focus on the negative, you will get it everytime!

    As far as the email writer’s comment “I’ve invested too much into getting a master’s degree to turn back,…”, as long as you are still breathing, it is never to late to change your direction. “Going back” is not the only option. Reevaluate where you want to go and how you can get there.

  4. Susan Says:

    I agree with Matt’s view of reconsidering your present situation. Searching continually for contentment isn’t going to add joy to a challenging life. While God leads us as we seek His wisdom, making sure the plan (including finances) is in place before jumping into a new calling could prevent some of the disillusionment later. That may mean waiting to make the change and finding joy in the process.

  5. Doug Says:

    Dan, you’re right! Nothing worse than people who don’t understand what their faith teaches. The Bible is clear and rampant with examples that work is meant for our fulfillment. In fact, we’ll even be working in heaven! It’s not going to be a big vacation, it’ll be an eternity of work serving the Lord. And the reason for that is that we were created to work. That fulfills us. When you understand that work takes on an entirely different view. I might also add that the idea that work is a curse is clearly a western view. Historically man has always found his highest value in working in the area God created him to be in. Find what God created you to do and it won’t be work anymore, it’ll be joy. Sounds like the guy who wrote to you needs more time on his knees in prayer understanding who God is and then he can understand what God created him to do.

  6. Jayne Says:

    Gosh, I’m torn here. I’ve experienced the same exact thing as the writer and feel despair, but still believe that God does not want us to be miserable in our work until He returns. Otherwise, what’s the point in the gifts He’s given us? I want to believe that everyone can find fulfillment in their work, but I’m not there yet. Some fulfulling ways to earn income simply don’t pay enough to live on, especially if you are the only breadwinner. So, maybe those things were meant to be hobbies, sideline pursuits, etc. I think the original writer’s problem is the same as mine. I just can’t create the clear plan to earn a living doing what I enjoy. That is by far the most the most frustrating part, and the one that leads to despair, like our friend. Don’t judge him until you’ve been there. Do what God does. Come alongside him, meet him in his despair and offer hope, not a quick fix-it spirituality (sorry for the preaching).

  7. Lori Peardon Says:

    I agree with you, Dan. God is NOT an ogre who delights in our misery while we work. He created us for a specific purpose, and working in our purpose will give us joy.
    Our pastor is teaching a series this summer on the book of Proverbs. This past Sunday, he commented that our calling may have certain aspects that we don’t particularly enjoy. His example was that he loves leading the church, but it’s not just about bringing a message on Sunday morning. There are details throughout the week he might rather bypass, but they are necessary to effectively do his job. We must develop discipline to do what is needed so that we can do what we love. Forward progress may involve some friction.
    For this season of my life, my calling is to stay home with my children. I might not enjoy wiping noses or acting as referee during a sibling disagreement. But, I would not trade being here for my children for ANYTHING in the world!! The joy of walking in my calling outweighs everything else. If I focus on the necessary but sometimes unpleasant parts of my job, I would forget why I wanted to do this in the first place.

  8. Celeste Says:

    I’m a “2nd career transitioner”… and yes, there have been real challenges. Just like I had to learn and grow and mature to work as a programmer, I’m learning again and growing again and, hopefully, maturing in new ways, too.

    My 2nd career is also into ministry and I’m part of a denomination that isn’t all that happy about having women in ministry. I’ve taken some hits and I’ve had to really evaluate what I believe and why. It takes determination because we really are starting over.

    I’ll be glad not to be on the bottom of the payscale again, but while I’m still “green”, I’m also grateful to be able to grow into the level of responsibility the Lord knows I can handle.

    There have been moments of real questioning, but whether to go forward or not is part of the test. My sense is that the Lord is cheering with each step I manage that draws me closer to Him through the calling He’s brought to my life. In return, I’m learning to appreciate those wonderful, but, to others small, miracles I see Him moving in to help encourage and comfort and build me up.

    I pray the person who wrote the blurb we’re commenting on takes his eyes off of his own circumstances and looks again to the one who is encouraging him to draw nearer.

    It isn’t platitude to live what the Bible teaches us… but there’s no doubt it can be hard work until we’re willing to surrender even the dream… it’s really the Lord’s dream being worked out through us… and that tells me that He’ll certainly do everything He can to make it happen. I hope the writer will let the Lord encourage him to keep going.

  9. Tammy Says:

    As a Christian, I know I serve a mighty and loving God. A God that wants the very best for me just I do want the very best for my own children. Even though I’m not anywhere near where I believe God wants me to be yet, I am striving to make all my dreams come true. I believe that dreams and desires of the heart are from God if you are striving to live a life of serving Him. It truly saddens me to hear Chirstians talk about the Lord in any other fashion than in abundance. He is all powerful and I posess His power. And that crazy statement about not everyone is meant to have a great marriage. Marriage is God’s plan for us and yes, EVERYONE can have a great marriage, it takes work. I know, I’ve been married for 23 years to my Highschool sweetheart and our marriage is a reflection of what we put into it and our relationship with Jesus Christ. I for one will continue to reach for my dreams!

  10. Karen Pollock Says:

    Good Morning Dan! I have a covenant with God (a contract). I think most people have a copy of this in their homes, it’s called the Bible. My contract states if I believe in Christ, I will be saved and that I can ask for anything and I will have it. All that is required of me is to have faith in the Author of the contract. Faith that sins required payment and by the blood of Christ that was paid. Upon accepting this payment, I am entitled to every promise made in the contract. I don’t recall it saying you will be a nurse forever, like it or not. It says whatever I do (per accepting this contract) will be blessed. It says that poverty is a curse and that laziness leads to poverty (paraphrased of course). As I see it, that’s a friendly warning. The point is there are no labels on the work. It just says work! Leave the blessing of that work to God. After all, He did write the contract and is more that ready, willing and able to fulfill His end of it! Work at what you want, be happy and full of joy that you have a contract that says that no matter what you do, it will be blessed. Some may ask if what I am doing is right, well, it says in the contract, in Hebrews I believe, that I will write my laws on their hearts. So, you know if it’s right or wrong. Have faith in the Author and Finisher of your faith and you will do just fine at what ever you do!

  11. Jeff J Says:

    That’s right!!

    Don’t forget faith in action. Our work should be an extension of our faith! Its the “working out” of our faith in everything we do.

    Work out your faith through your actions (James 2:14-26)
    …faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
    …and his faith was made complete by what he did.
    …a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

    All for the glory of God!

  12. Linda Says:

    I’m puzzled that the career changer couldn’t find a way to incorporate both lines of work if necessary to survive (? doing CAD design part-time?) Having said that, I also “got the call” and found myself leaving a lucrative but emotionally draining position to care for the dying. Talk about a change! Life is definitely more fulfilling, and there were serious economic consequences, but I have learned it is not about the treasures you have here, but relationships with your family, friends, and God.

  13. Steve Says:

    Sometimes what you are doing to reach your career goals can fuel your passion and activate the next step of a plan. I’m currently gathereing content and posting it on my blog (www.stevegundy.com). I hope to write a book that would be helpful to my chosen niche. Check out my website. To those who are interested leave your comments. Feedback helps greatly!

    Activating this part of my plan has given me the purpose and energy I’ve been looking for. I wake up each morning, embarking on a new day at the same J-O-B with the same challenges and routine. But I also wake up each day with a new horizon in my future. The horizon is called POSSIBILITY and it gives me hope.

    I don’t know if my career plans will succeed according to my plan. But I believe God will make something great out of it that will serve His kingdom. I am unashamed when I say a little pocket change along the way would be appreciated! :)

    “When you can not see where you came from nor where you are going, keep moving forward on faith. The new horizon will present itself.”

    Unknown

  14. Tim Says:

    I believe the key is that we are to first be responsible to those depending upon us and to commitments we have made…and sometimes that means we need to do work where we “only extract a paycheck”…and I do not believe, if that type of work is honest work and is necessary to fulfill our responsibilities for a season, that it is a “cop-out” or that God is somehow grieved.

    God is grieved by our sin. It is not a sin to work in a job that we may not necessarily enjoy or that may not fully employ all of our passions and gifts as we see them.

    I admire folks, like Dan and others who have been fortunate in finding an “ideal” work environment…and obviously his passion shines through. I too have a vision of what my “ideal” vocational pursuit would be, and am working to that goal. However, along the way, I have done many, many jobs…none of them remotely close to my “ideal” that simply paid the bills. Maybe that’s all part of God’s sovereignty, because in looking back I can see that all of those various work experiences have 1.) developed character and discipline, 2.) exposed and refined certain talents / skills that I may not have been aware of, 3.) demonstrated to my family my willingness to do whatever it took to be responsible to my primary obligations…plus many other benefits that I would not have seen if I hadn’t done them.

  15. Tari Says:

    I believe you said it in your first article. . .to earn money we had to SERVE someone. The Christian life is about serving. Humbling ourselves to SERVE others in a manner that edifies, encourages and shows the love of Christ. Even in a job in which I am not using my strengths (which will be changing, God willing in a few years) I can be content by serving those I work with and having the joy of Christ in my heart from serving. Through this humbling I have found out where my passion lies, my path maybe not yours, and I am now pursuing the VISION I have been given. For me, serving has led me to understand my passion which has led to being given a vision for what I am to do.

  16. Chris Says:

    Ok. so by Dan’s plan there will be no highway workers, no waiter’s at restaurants. No one to man the pump house at the water treatment plant. Everyone will be videographers, pianists, writers, and ice sculptors. Hmm… some how a civilization with out roads, clean water, food, cars, and houses seems lame. The guy is partly right. And Dan is partly right. God doesn’t delight in our misery. But God also wants us to find our delight in him and serve him first. Everything else is secondary.

  17. Charlie Beninati Says:

    How would you like to be in his class! I teach Bible as well-because I want to, and I LOVE IT!, If that is not what he loves to do he should move out for the sake of the students if not for himself. I teach part-time because the pay stinks and run my business. Maybe he could get back into his old job or… to help supplement his income.

    I do struggle with the fact that the Bible does tell us to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in (Phil. 4:11) and that we should expect to suffer as a Christian (I Pet.). I do know the most important thing is to accept Jesus as your Savior from your sin and Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul!

  18. Chris Says:

    Dan,

    Great message! I think in today’s workplace, most people have tagged themselves “employees” and they go out looking for that perfect job. Perfect jobs are for perfect people and the last time I checked, neither exists.

    What does exist in every person is a skill set that they can fine tune towards their passions. The only way to tune a piano is to press the key to hear it out of tune. The only way to determine if something fits your skill set is to try. At first it may not be perfect; but if it is something you like, keep tuning!

    I recently started my own Investment Advisory Firm because the old firm I was with was all about generating more revenue, not helping people. Now with my own firm, I help people with all the financial aspects of life. I help people uncover what they love and try to create a business around those passions.

    This country was founded on people that saw a need and filled it (with their own business). Today, if we can’t find what we are looking for in the marketplace, we give up. This is not in the Christian tenets.

  19. Joslyn Says:

    I very much agree with Dan’s oft-made point about our frequent failure to challenge assumptions by seeking out reliable sources of truth and fact in order to avoid misinformation.

    With regard to this particular post: First of all, I find it deeply concerning that this sad fellow believes he is qualified and ready to teach the Bible when he is fundamentally confused on several points of one of the most pivotable lessons contained within it. Such confusion could potentially lead to false doctrine.

    Secondly, in referring to the CAD operatorship as his “dream job”–the pursuit of which he now condemns–and the Bible teaching career as his “passion”, isn’t he contradicting his very own thesis??

    What I do gather from this post is a great deal of frustration and confusion as the result of incorrect conclusions about his life choices and how he has been arriving at and acting upon them. I would hope he would pray for discernment in order to achieve clarity and wisdom before moving forward in any plans.

    I also agree with Dan that in using God’s sovereinty or the fall of Adam and Eve as an excuse, we are actually avoiding ownership of responsibility for our lives.

  20. Lori Says:

    I read this to my husband as we sat in our office,where we both have different self-started companies. My husband roared sarcastically into the second paragraph, “Oh boo-hoo! Yes, indeed, God wants us all to take up our little pity pots and fill them with our tears! Don’t try working at what you love, because God will smite you down for even a moment happiness! Please!”

  21. Jeff Says:

    Dan, your world is interesting. but not a lot like reality. Just as Chris mentioned before, there are a lot of people that may not like what they do, but if they didnt do it, we would still be in the stone age. We should be thankful for our ability to work and give it our best. Even if its not what we really like.

    Your world seems to be full of fluff. And for that, I’ll pass.

  22. Steve Says:

    Boy Dan, I don’t know where to start on this one. I am a 47 year old who has been a Christ-follower for more than 30 years. During that time I managed to get a Bible College Degree and Seminary education, so I learned plenty about the sovereignty of God and don’t doubt it in the least. My experiences have been of two types. Frequently I have seen opportunities related to my passions and gone after them with great energy. The results have always been exciting, not just financially, but in life experiences, great relationships, etc. I also spent about 10 years of my life at one point “waiting for God to do something.” I’m not sure he ever really did anything resembling what I was after. I’m sure God is at work in our movement and exclusive of our movement – but I think WE have to move. From Adam’s beginning, there is always an aspect of choice which rests solely on our shoulders. It is one of the really radical things God does in relationship with us – a true demonstration of His love. A few years back I read Barb Stanny’s book – Overcoming Underearning (a great read – I recommend the exercises too). Her statement – “if it’s be, it’s up to me” is on the far side of extreme for my theology, but it has really worked in my life. God is perfectly capable of His own interaction, but I must be proactive with mine. On this issue one of my former pastors probably gave me the most practical advice I’ve had – “Pray like it’s all up to God, and work like it’s all up to you.” Good stuff!

  23. Theresa Says:

    Been there, done that! I can related for it was not too long ago I began to feel the same way. I never looked at work as a curse, but I became very frustrated that no matter what I tried, I was still out there searching aimlessly for the “calling” in my life. I began to feel exactly the way the writer did – that it did not matter what I did, if God did not choose me to bless, that I was just out there. I offer this advice only because it is what I am working on myself. Every morining and night and every waking hour in between, if necessary, ask yourself these questions – Do I seek God first or wait until I have totally messed things up? And then do I expect Him to just right the ship so I go merrily sailing along?

    When we do not seek Him first, He will let us wander whereever our free will takes us. When we mess it up, He will see us through those times and help us right our ship. However, it probably won’t be an overnight fix, and because of where we’ve gotten ourselves, it becomes easier just to blame others for our problems and troubles.

    And try not to look at it as disappointment and dispair. Maybe God is working with you so that in the future, when your calling has been made known to you, you will be better prepared to help and guide others.

  24. Kenny Says:

    I agree with Dan’s premise on this. I call it “Choice” vs “Fate”. Why not volitionally CHOOSE what you want and then create a plan to make it happen? Too often we would rather put our lives in the hands of fate, and then when things don’t go well we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. It is “fate’s fault” or “Adam’s fault” or “my parents fault” or “its the government’s fault”….

    I believe God wants us all to be happy, and being a very wise father understands that we develop best by providing us freedom to choose our actions, to be stewards of our talents, and accountable for our lives.

    God provides specific guidance and help when WE have created a specific plan and we are WORKING the plan. After all Faith is an action word, not just “wishing” really hard. Identify how you can best apply your talents and desires, make a plan, work the plan, be accountable…. be happy ;-)

  25. Lorrea Says:

    I think this was a great article but I think the part that is lacking is that there was some truth in what the gentleman wrote. God prepares us for what he as called us to do and whatever work we do, we should do it in honor of him. There is value in what you are doing right now and learning to see that value will help you move beyond.

    All too often people try to reinvent the wheel becuase they’ve become disolutioned by there present situation and instead of looking at what value they have gotten from the places they’ve been they throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.

    There was a beautiful anaology from a book that I read called The Dream Giver. This person was called to a certain “job” it was a long treaturous road to get there but finally he made it. He speant some time there, throuroughly enjoying the work, doing good. But then a time came when God began calling again for him to move on, he said he had more for him to do, his work was finished there and it was time to come on. I see this as being the ebb and flow of our work whether it be a direct minisitry or something else you are always doing Gods work. I believe when disolusionment sets in, thats a sign you have missed the call to move on and its passed time to go.

    The problem comes when people get to this point they tend to completly try to re-invent the wheel, go and do something totally and completly unrealated to there previous work. I know Dan you keep saying this is ok, but I I really feel your wrong. I am totally convinced that everyone has been blessed by God through there past work and educational experiences with certain skills that should be the foundation of whatever they do.

    Case in point, my husband whom I work for know :-), he was a full time military medic for 12 yrs and then worked as an intelligence analyst full-time and medic part time for the remainder of his 22 yrs of service. So you might say that he should go into the intelligence field or become a nurse. Well of course those are the obvious choices but he has so many more options when you look at his skills.

    After a long ardious process and reminding him over and over to work with his skills not against them he finally found his calling when he started teaching a small class of kids robotics on a volunteer basis. We have since built an entire business around this. A lot of people are looking at me like I am nuts right now because your wondering what an intelligence/analyst medic has to do with teaching robotics but it has a lot to do with it. In his 22 yrs of service he became a highly respected teacher, organizing and teaching contuing education classes throughout the military. His personality is perfectly suited to the job, over the years he has been a mentor to thousands of soldiers desiring to fullfill there dreams in the medical field. In essence the core of his work is the same, the difference is in the content, the audience and the delivery.

    I loved the posts about trying to do what you are doing with a passion, thats what finally got the wheels turning, when you look at what you are doing and find the good spots. Find the things that get you out of bed every morning and go from there. And don’t say to me there’s nothing that gets me out of bed in the morning, because that simply is not true, you just have to look. Besides helping you find where God is truly leading you, it certainly makes spending some more time there while you get another business going much less ardious.

  26. Drew Says:

    I am the wife of a husband who is trying to discover his passion in his next line of work. We are real fans of Dan Miller. I am a realist and believe that our marriage partners should do “whatever it takes” to provide income for the family; hopefully that includes a passion. The immediate needs of the family (food, gas for the car, shelter, etc) must come first. Faith has to be involved in the process of searching; will God take care of us as we persue our passion? The answer is yes; God provides for His children, but we must do our part. We must be proactive and work, “whatever it takes.”

  27. jody fredrickson Says:

    I believe every believer should prayerfully pursue meaningful, enjoyable work: stuff that God made you for. But I also believe that God didn’t do a half-ass job when He cursed the world: that it really is a shitty place to live. So. Job satisfaction, which is good to pursue, just like marriage satisfaction, and parenting satisfaction, and find a good local church…all good things, but all OVERrated. Only Jesus is UNDERrated. So hold on loosely to job, marriage, parenthood, finding a great local church, and whatever else, cuz they are ALL OVERrated in my not-so-humble opinion, and quickly become idols, which distract us from fixing our eyes and thoughts on Jesus. :)

  28. Don Says:

    Dear Dan,
    I don’t know why people seem to overlook the fact that God lifted the curse after the Flood. He told Noah and his family that He would no longer curse the ground because of man’s sins.
    I do still relate to the writer, though. However, I think it’s the fault of our fellow Christians that we have trouble following our dreams into ministry. Why ? Because people who work in ministry are “expected” to “volunteer” instead of being paid for their work for the church. If you HAVE to vounteer, then it’s not really volunteering anymore, is it ? The Apostle Paul said it,
    ” The laborer is worthy of his wages. ” I would like to see these people who think I should work for free, go into the grocery store and ask for free food. It’d be an eye-opening experience !

  29. Alana Says:

    I left a job of 13 years in 2003 in which I absolutely hated because the company was not in line with my values, nor did I have any passion left for the possiton I was in. I have since tried 3 different career paths, one in dentistry, one in the weight loss and fitness field and one in Life Coaching. None of these paid out for me and left me questioning my self esteem and direction. Since 2005 I have been working in a small sales and service appliance company. It is a job I would’ve never seen myself in. But there is something to be said for finding out what we can do well in our current positions and in learning to not necessarliy be complacent but to be content in where God ends up leading us. While I have never looked back in leaving my previous position of 13 years, I have had to learn to stop looking for the grass to be greener on the other side and be grateful for where I am at.

  30. Tony Says:

    Having recently watched “City of God” (a heart-wrenching drama about life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro) and corresponded with missionaries in Rwanda, it strikes me that the question of “fulfilling” work has a distinctly American flavor, or at least unique to the wealthy citizens of the world who have climbed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and no longer work for mere survival.

    Many Americans toil at the top of the pyramid, desperately seeking self-actualization, the powerful unleashing of their talents for maximum gain and personal satisfaction. And make no mistake, it is still toil. To be human is to yearn for something greater, whether one is in a slum or in Silicon Valley. Happiness is an elusive carrot for many, and Dan’s ministry appeals to those who are merely working and want to feel alive and engaged in their work.

    The citizens of Kigali beg my missionary friends for ANY kind of work. They are thrilled to earn a dollar for sweeping steps or washing a windshield. Having lived for a time in a Mexican slum, I recall 60-year old men pushing dirty ice cream carts or hawking trinkets and being cheerful just for having work. In America, we take work for granted. We’ve graduated to a new desire — joy and fulfillment in the work itself.

    I only bring this up to suggest that perhaps the largest component of happiness is gratitude. It would do our hearts well to appreciate the privileged position we have in the world where a $100k job just ‘isn’t enough.’ Proper channeling of our gifts is an admirable goal, but there’s a fine line between self-actualization and self-indulgence.

    The Bible doesn’t hold up work as an idol, but rather offers many simple tenets for job satisfaction:
    – Work should meet the needs of your immediate family (1 Timothy 5:8)
    – Work should keep you from being a burden to others (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
    – Work should keep you from being idle or a busy body. Everyone must earn the bread he eats (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

    Proverbs 12:11 says “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” I would suggest that we need to pray for discernment in our career planning to determine whether we’re faithfully working the land that God has given us or merely chasing fantasies.

  31. David Says:

    YES!

    When I graduated college and had a “normal” job for a few months, I confessed to my parents “It feels like I’m just EXISTING until the weekend!” They actually said “Well – that’s just what it is to be an adult!”

    I completely disagree with that, and have tried to separate myself from that belief for the past few years… Like you said: God gave Adam work before the fall – and the curse was not that he’d hate work, but that there would be toil involved.

    Jewish culture teaches that a person who seeks God is blessed by Him in practical ways – why do Christians think that since Jesus came, we are not to expect the same blessings??

    I would much rather spend my “toiling years” launching the career I will work passionately behind, rather than spend my entire life working for someone/something that I have no passion for.

    I’m pretty sure my family thinks I’m being irresponsible for pursuing music as a career – but I’d rather be irresponsible and passionate.

  32. Shawn Stone Says:

    Dear Dan,

    OK, I agree that work in and of itself is not a curse and was ordained, holy, etc. before the fall. However, unpleasant work definitely was a part of that curse. Thus, I do not believe that we can expect our work to be pleasant. That said, I don’t believe that it’s vain (or certainly a sin) to try finding something that matches our desires, and I am happy that your desire is to help others achieve that when they can.

    On the flip side, I certainly do not believe that the Bible teaches anywhere that one must find fulfilling work in order to please God — rather that one’s contentment with his work is pleasing. In 1 Thess. 4:11-12, Paul admonishes, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (NIV)

    To me, it seems that Paul is saying that one should “work with [his] hands” at least partially for the purpose of not being “dependent on anybody”. Sounds to me as though sometimes God is honored with work that “does nothing but extract a paycheck”, as long as we honor Him with part or all of that paycheck. (Think Barnabas, Aquila and Priscilla, etc. The book of Acts never mentions their being either fulfilled or unfulfilled in their work — only with what they were able to accomplish with their paychecks.)

    Shawn

  33. marcia eldreth Says:

    My experiences in the bold style of living your dreams have not yielded such good fruit YET. Wisdom is born of her children so we’ll see. All is well that ends well, etc. etc. I am quite disappointed though.
    In addition to being disappointed, I struggle to make ends meet which really makes me tired and a burden on others who help me.
    I always could go get a decent job when I wanted. Now I am 59 and the great plan has not panned out and I do not fit into any of the molds given for job requirements. eeek! My choices are not so broad now as the former things done well with the strenth and beauty of youth.
    I love to see people educate themselves and prepare and the plan actually come together the same as I love to see people marry well and have a fulfilled lifetime marriage. It simply has not been my lot.
    For the life of me, I do not know what I would have done much different though. I am just simply disappointed. Oh well…let’s pray that I am given beauty for ashes. I am very road weary.
    blah de blah, sorry

  34. Jeffrey Says:

    For Chris and another Jeff: Do you really believe in this wonderful and varied world that our creator gave us, that there are none who find their passion in what some call “honest work”? I truly believe that just as my passion is teaching computers, PC repair and learning about electronics (and maybe coding, next programming class here I come!) there is someone out there who will think I am crazy and his/her passion is making sure I have the comforts of living in this great country, whether that is farming, road building, sewer maintenance, water treatment or whatever…they may not like the details but keeping this country moving, or working could be their passion! Also Mario Batali, said in a Nightline interview: that he believe the problems of the world are caused by lack of sleep and being hungry. Whether or not I agree, if someone’s passion is fixing the latter, (s)he has 2 options, work in a restaurant/farm/factory, or relief work. Not everyone can be the Chef and sometimes waiting tables is good work. I worked in a restaurant for my first job, and one of the Servers there felt that her passion was making people happy by getting the food from the kitchen to the table and keeping the coffee mug full….can her passion be denied because Chris says no one wants to do that job?

  35. Josh Says:

    Tony – I like your points and agree with you. I am reminded of the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water” that teaches people to be fully present in all of their actions. Doing so will create a sense of fulfillment and gratitude that is elusive when we are always looking for “something better.”

    I enjoy Dan’s teachings because they are aimed at helping people remove the “career clutter” that causes people to be miserable in their work. If someone is in a bad job, then it makes sense to get out of it. Get out now and move onto something more fulfilling — or at least something that doesn’t cloud your view of living a life full of gratitude.

  36. Mark Says:

    I’m re-learning to rely on Christ for all things…that includes my job.

    I have been miserable for the past 8 years. I have been whining about how bad things are. I have been lying to myself about what a good example I have been to stay committed when things got tough (Paul’s admonition to stay the course and run the race).

    Last week I had a light-bulb moment (ok, it’s a small, twinkly Christmas tree light, but it’s mine). After a particularly bad experience at work, God taught me that I had come to place my trust in a particular person instead of Jesus. After some hard, soul-searching prayer and time of repentance I have moved close to Jesus and seek His fellowship and direction constantly. He has given me a new vision with Him at the center.

    It’s hard to break old habits. I wake up in the morning with that familiar fear and anxiety waiting to cloud the day. But Jesus is true to His Word. I re-commit to Him and He provides a deep peace.

    My apologies for rambling. The point is this. If you desire change, you must recognize that something is wrong, change that thing, and make a determined, daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) decision to stay focused on your goal.

  37. Connie J. Pratt Says:

    Hi Dan,
    I’m with you. I believe God wants us to have a fulfilling life. Maybe he is not teaching the Bible because God wants him to get it right first before He allows him to pass on the disgruntled attitude.

  38. Brett Says:

    The Holy Bible states cursed is the ground for your sake We are not cursed because of Adam’s sin the ground was cursed for Adam’s sake not ours. He had to toil in it, not us. We could go on about this but Ibelieve the 48 year old man that went out and got his master’s degree did it because he chose to. He chose his path. God gave us the free will to choose but with that comes the responsibiltiy of accepting the consequences of our choices good or bad

    In January of 2008 I fell off of a home I was working on and broke my back. I am just now returning to work and my employer will not let me work at the capacity that I did work at. I have to accept both of those because I chose not to put on the saftey harness I was supposed to be wearing. If I had chosen to wear it I would not have broke my back. We have to own up to the choices we make either good or bad and make the best of it. Pray for God’s will always but use your brains God gave it to you.

  39. Eric H. Erickson Says:

    Wow – some real introspection is needed by this “young” man. Yes, at only 48 there is a great deal of time to learn and to teach others! Hopefully he will listen more closely and “hear” God’s Word toward better understanding.
    We have all been there as we walk through this life! I like to remind myself and present to others that – “from trouble comes experience and from experience comes wisdom” – worded slightly differently and found in Proverbs. May God bless this fellow.
    P.S. He needs to reread 48 Days.

  40. David Tiner Says:

    Hey Dan, Excellent thoughts. Blame is a defense we use to not look at our part in a situation. In other words, if I can blame someone or something for my situation, I do not have to look at what I am responsible for in the situation.
    If you look at the literal translation of Genesis 3, …sweat of the face literally translates, fear and anger. Yes, there is fear and anger present in producing our bread. So, what is the purpose of the fear? We can either use it to stay miserable or use it to draw closer to God. I choose the latter.

  41. Larry Says:

    What I love about Dan is that he recognizes that one of the very best ways we can worship God is in our work. I’ve grown to believe this is paramount. We can worship God in a variety of ways- like singing, for instance, but when the hours we spend in our daily work are also a song unto God, I believe it pleases Him greatly. In fact, until you find the calling He has placed in you and follow it to the extent that others see His glory in your work, you’re really not doing all that much, by comparison, to worship Him. Like Dan says in his book- what you do throughout the week says much more than the 58 minutes you spend in church on Sunday morning.

  42. E. Bruce Says:

    For a long time I laboured under the misguided thought that work is a curse. It is not. Mankind was given work BEFORE sin ever existed. Work is a blessing. We ought to expect to work in some way for after all it is good for us physically and spiritually. I believe that Jewish proverb that asking for more money is really a request that heaven provide more opportunities to serve, do good for people.

  43. Jim Blakeslee Says:

    We’ve found that looking for our dream job has been our dream job. I spent 20 years in the US Army Special Forces living the life of high risk high adventure and loved every minute of it. My wife spent 10 years as an Army helicopter pilot, not a very boring life. Since retiring in 1995 we have been to college (twice), owned and operated a successful industrial sewing business, studied Chinese martial arts and taught Tai Chi at the local YMCAs, became certified massage therapists and taught sports massage in the local massage schools. I helped build log homes for a summer (and got one great tan!). We’ve worked at the indoor skydiving centers in TN and Las Vegas (fun city!). I spent a year with AmeriCorps working with the elderly (the most important learning experience of my life). My wife went to Afghanistan as a contractor (and learned she didn’t want to do that again). We went to Germany for two years to teach soldiers (and tour Europe). I was a contractor in Iraq teaching Iraqis about security measures and protecting Americans for a spell. Then we went back to Germany to run a US Army training complex for a year (and tour Europe…again). We spent a year in Alaska with my brother putting in septic systems (but mostly playing in the wilderness) and now I’m back in Iraq helping to guard the American Embassy while my wife is a TSA Transportation Security Officer. When I return in August we will begin to explore South Carolina. I will attend the National Park Service Seasonal Ranger Certification Program at the local community college in January 09. After that we will begin to explore the national parks across this great nation (but mostly playing in the wilderness) looking for that “dream job”. Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s FPU in 1998, military retirement and medical coverage we’re 50 years old and “free” to keep searching for that dream job. Most people think we’re out of our minds but we sure are having a blast looking for that dream job. Maybe when we find it, it will be in that dream retirement community.
    Jim and Debbie Blakeslee
    Woodruff, SC (for the moment)

  44. Wendy Staas Says:

    Wow!!! So many amazing comments and many that I can day ditto. I did not read all of them, but I did want to state my own opinion/ counsel to the orginal writer. Forgive me if you think it is long, but it is a very important verse that really struck me this week during my Beth Moore study “A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place” which is the study of the tabernacle. Galatians 5: 19-26 (NLT) “When yoiu follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quareling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong exept those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desiers of their sinful nauture to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in eveery part of our lives. Let us not become conceitited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.” The reason Christ came to die for our sins is because of the fall of Adam and Eve and because of that we are free!! But we need to be into HIS word daily for guidance and understaning. We all whine and moan that we do not know what God wants us to do while we are here on earth, but the main #1 problem is. . . we are never quite enough to listen and we don’t read HIS word daily. (Please do not think I am perfect at this because I am not. . . I do know how to hear HIS will and that is by being in the word and listening and being still enough to hear HIM). . . We need to keep ourselves pure and holy to allow the Holy Spirit to come into our lives. . . It talks in Exodus 25:31-40 about how God gave instruction to build a lampstand. . . This is represented again in the new testament as Christ was our lampstand. . . we are the lanterns. . . and the oil is the Holy Spirit. We need to be praying daily, “Lord, purify me and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Then fill me to overflowing with Your precious Holy Spirit.” The fruit will supernaturally and automatically be producted. We all must remember that the Lord wants us to be happy in HIM. . . He will lead the way. . . sometimes he wants us to fall face down, full body on the ground and fully give our life over to HIM. (I am not good at that either. . . I am a bit of a control freak :) But let me finish with my two most favorite verses in the bible. Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” and Malachi 3:10 “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the LORD Almighty,’I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it you!'” Malachi 3:10 is the only place in the bible that the Lord says “TEST ME”. . . I have tested this and does he open the flood gates. I have so much testimony that goes along with it. If you want to hear it, please email me, I will tell you. The Lord is so GOOD!!!! Don’t give up and don’t allow yourself to live a life of mediocrity….THE LORD DOES NOT WANT THAT TO HAPPEN…..YOU ARE ONLY HEAR ONCE….LIVE IT UP TO HIM!!!

  45. Bert Savarese Says:

    Well, what a lively discussion! I have been just where most of these responses have been/are. I am almost 65 & disgusted that I haven’t really take care of my future as well as I should. On the othe hand, there were factors I could not control that really impacted my financies, so can’t just beat myself up totally!

    On the other hand, a lady I barely know called this morning and in the conversation, asked, “What would you really like to be doing?” I told her, instantly, “I would like to go into people’s homes and cook for them while they are at work – when they get home, dinner is ready!”. I have spent 20+ yrs in career development and am major burned out. I have NO interest in doing it again. I will help people along the way with my knowledge and contacts, but I am limited with how much I can give in that direction now. I am measuring my life in time left, not a huge future. I am realistic that my health will impact what I do but I don’t need a lot of money so why not go for this? I don’t have any clue how to charge for this though and that concerns me. Would like to find folks who have done this or doing this. I am not a chef, just a good cook!

    So, as far as the writer of the letter goes — it can seem all is a waste but it never is. Take that Masters work you are doing and use it in other ways or combine it with something else. I am going from being a trainer to an in house cook. Doesn’t sound exciting, does it, but I throughly enjoy it – so why not? In the end, when I look back on my life, I want to see the moments of joy, not the despair of not having it all mapped out for me. I feel God wants me to do the legwork – he will do the miracles.

    Don’t forget, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – and He means it! I awoke one Saturday morning, years ago, and the Holy Spirit whispered that verse to me, then added, “Do you believe that?” So he is asking us to believe what he has promised us. We must get beyond our fears and have faith and trust in God and _do our part_ of the plan. He knows the outcome so why sweat it? Just get on with it and do it!!

  46. Tracy Says:

    I’ll just let the Bible state it:
    Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
    “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and BE HAPPY IN HIS WORK-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
    Ecclesiastes 8:15- “So I comemend the enjoyment of life because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Thn joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the lilfe God has given him under the sun.”

  47. Ken Says:

    I can’t be too hard on Adam & Eve. I too have sinned and if I had been there then, everyone would now be blaming me! In regards to the curse… If there had been no sin and no curse, I feel there would still be “work”. However, it would be more productive and minus the deterioration. Farmers posssibly would still plant seeds but not have to deal with the weeds. Our bodies would not age and die. Our cares about daily living would be more on the level of the animals. They don’t have the stress that we have…

    True peace and happiness only comes from being in the center of God’s will. It seems that often times God uses frustration in my life to get me off my butt and move it back into the center of His will. Sometimes God is trying to show me a new direction He wants me to take in my life and I am snoozing and don’t notice it until the frustration becomes painful.

  48. Bill Says:

    At 37 I am learning some different ideas and concepts about work and life and all the things in between. What I can relate to is the gentlemens attitude of being 48 and seemingly wasted his time in pursuing something that didn’t produce the outcome he wanted or even thought would occur. Been there done that – more than once. It sucks.
    I have tried starting my own business 5 times. Each time led to failure but each time taught me something. I didn’t know that however – until about the 5th time. The only reason the 5th try didn’t work was simply because it didn’t generate the income I needed. Other than that – it was awesome. If I was a single guy (which I am not)- it would have been perfect! Think the 6th time will finally do it? I don’t know either – but I am beginning to understand the idea of “learning from failure” A year ago I didn’t get it. I am only now starting to get the light to come on! Maybe this guy just happens to be “behind me” in the path to learning about his calling?? Heck I am not even sure that I am completely in the know about mine!
    I do agree with Dan – God gave you talents and abilities for a reason. Why waste them? USE them for cryin out loud! Your passions may be for something unrelated in your mind – but could you find a way to put them together? Try.
    I guess the idea here is – MAKE A PLAN and take action! If you fall over and fail miserably – get up and MAKE A PLAN and take action! Pretty soon you will either get it right or do it wrong so many times the only way left to do it will be the right way!
    Dont get me wrong – we learn alot through suffering. And it has its place in life. (I love CS LEWIS) But with suffering comes JOY. Trust me – I am suffering right now for all the stupid choices I have made the last few years. Thats ok, but it does not mean I should quit and accept my current employment as all I can ever have. I will work hard and do unto my employer as I would if it were Christ Himself. And when the plan comes together and I have the opportunity through my working the plan – I will move on to more fulfilling labor that incorporates my talents and passions. Its only a matter of time………

  49. Curtis Says:

    I will always remember a clasic show “Beverley Hillbillies” where granny tells Jed thye only have a half pound of lard left and that is all there is to eat. But also there is no soap so does she fry up the lard or make soap.
    Je repplies, “Granny, make the soap. THe good loard will always provide poor folks with something to eat, but we gotta do our own washin”

  50. shirley Says:

    I commend the writer on at least doing something to accomplish his dream eventhough his concept of how God defines work is off. I don’t want to beat him up but to encourage him to re-evaluate his perception not by how he feels but by looking closely at the word of God and pray for wisdom and understanding. Above all don’t give up but be willing to make adjustments to his goal(s).

  51. Ray Says:

    I believe the key is learning contentment in the Lord no matter the circumstance you are in before you move onto your calling. Joseph was working in a jail a number of years before he began his calling as an administrator in Egypt. David lived as a fugitive leading fugitives in the wilderness for many years before becoming the king of Israel. I believe the test is to be content in the Lord no matter the situation before you move on to better things. The children of Israel from Egypt never learned to be content in the Lord in the wilderness and thus forfeited their calling to their children who did fulfill it

  52. Pieter Says:

    I feel really sorry for the person that wrote this!!! Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy! Around Thanksgiving last year I felt like I didn’t have much to be grateful for. So to combat that “feel sorry for me” attitude, I got out a piece of paper, and started writing down all the things I could think of that I was grateful for. Then I posted it at my desk at work, so I read it at least once a day. So part of my day was always spent counting my blessings and looking for ways to pass on the blessings I had received. What did I get for it? Joy, for starters. The LOVE OF MY LIFE. A *lot* more meaningful, challenging work, which I absolutely loved. My position was temporary and was supposed to last six weeks. Instead it lasted six months, and that was in part because I forgot why I was there. TO BLESS OTHERS. If you live for yourself and do not include blessing others as part of your job, you’re robbing yourself of meaning in your work. I prayed for answers, and they literally walked right up to me. It was the craziest and most fulfilling six months of my life – absolutely no question.

    So if you start with an attitude of getting instead of giving, you will never get anywhere. (Well, at least I never have!) But if I begin rightly, the rest takes care of itself. Prayer and obedience are definitely required, but the difference is absolutely night and day. I got to do work that excited me and I had the opportunity to bring all of me to my job, so I couldn’t help but to love it.

    To me, it shows the absolute paramount importance of beginning rightly. With GIVING and not GETTING. The more I sought to give and serve, the more I was rewarded. I wasn’t after money, I was trying to bring out the best in myself and share as much of it as I possibly could. And the results were awesome! Working there wasn’t really like working – it was like doing puzzles all day, which is something I love to do anyway – so there really was no separation between work and play. So I got to PLAY and GOT PAID FOR IT!!! What could be better than that? But in order to get there, you have to know what motivates you and what you do well, and find a place to put those two together.

  53. Dave Says:

    Working in an unfulfilling job as a means to fulfill your obligations to your family is accepting responsibility and there’s no shame in doing that. You can still do what your hand finds to do and do it excellently. If the writer wants to teach Bible I would suggest that he needs to be a more diligent student of the Bible before he foists defeatist dogma on others. I don’t particularly like my job but I’m getting valuable management training, an excellent pay allowing us to be debt free even with paying college tuition, plus experiencing the joy of giving to our church and various ministries, and an opportunity to make a difference. But I really would like to be flying airplanes. I believe that God will make a way and I’m ready whenever He is.

  54. Joy Says:

    OBEDIENCE is a huge factor in this also. God has not allowed me to leave my current job and I am seeing why. I don’t like staying here but because I have been patient he has directed me to get more education and get a degree to pursue my calling while staying at my current job.

    Obedience is even more important than sacrifice. If God is calling you to stay put, stay put, if God is calling you to move on, move on. I know that is easy to say but I know that it usually takes many little steps and not just one big one. God will lead you one step at a time if you listen and obey. “Trust and Obey” is an old song we need to sing and know that it will lead to a successful life if we heed its words.

    You can be obedient in the little things and God will give you greater responsibilities. Remember, it’s not all about you. It’s about Him and accomplishing HIS work, not your agenda. He knows that you will be fulfilled in your calling because it is HIS plan that is being fulfilled. Don’t forget that His talents were given to you to promote HIS KINGDOM.

  55. Jay Clever Says:

    I am the original 48-yr. old career-changer who started all this discussion, and WOW! I never imagined that my little post would generate such response! Thanks to each one of you . . . your points are all well-taken, both the criticisms and the encouragement. I believe God has spoken to me through all of you.

  56. 48days Says:

    Jay — thanks so much for weighing back in. As you can see the advice has been rich — although varied. Such is the value of “a multitude of counselors.” I trust you have been encouraged in your own continuing journey.

  57. Tabetha Says:

    Your life do not have to suck
    just say out loud now Jesus I
    believe and I receive you in
    my heart please help me you can
    also go to leroyjenkins.com to
    get help

  58. admin Says:

    actually it’s eves fault. she ate the apple first, then talked adam into it. LOL

    God could of stopped this to but didn’t? why?

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