Making a Living…or

How many times have you heard someone say about their work – “Well, at least I’m making a living.” Maybe it would be more accurate to say “I’m making a dying.” The work they describe is unfulfilling, boring, and stressful.  They dread going in on Monday morning – and every other morning.  Often they are embarrassed about their work and admit readily they are doing nothing meaningful; only extracting a paycheck in exchange for their time.

Does that sound like “making a living?” I don’t think so.  They may brush it off as just something we all do; that work is never going to be purposeful and enjoyable.  They may pretend it doesn’t really matter.  But then I hear painful phrases like, “I feel like my soul is being sucked out of me,” or “I feel like a prostitute – in exchange for my life I’m getting a paycheck.”

If you’re caught up in the typical American view of work you may say you’re making a living when in truth something inside you is being killed each day.  Every day, millions of people rush to get to jobs they don’t love and yet those people defend their choices as responsible, practical, and realistic. How can it be responsible to live the biggest part of our lives devoid of meaning, joy, and purpose?

“Making a Living” implies that you are releasing those skills and talents that make you fully alive.  Doing work where the time just flies by – work that you would want to do even if you were not paid for it.  Work that is meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful and profitable.

In a recent issue of Rick Warren’s ministry newsletter, the author of The Purpose Driven Life was talking about this idea of meaningful work. Rick referenced this verse from Ecclesiastes 10:15 (Today’s English Version):  “Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.” How do you like that? Have you been worn out at work lately? Did you know that you’ve just been put in the category of being “too stupid to find your way home?”

Well, maybe that’s a little harsher than it was intended to be and you’ll find softer language in other Bible translations, but I like the message. Don’t be so busy trying to “make a living” that you’re too busy to make a life.

And I don’t even have space here to describe what most people are doing to themselves when they think they’re “making a killing.”

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30 Responses to “Making a Living…or”

  1. Debi Says:

    Oh boy! Is this ever me! I hate my job;the way they abuse people and the poverty wages! But as a single mom w/no other income, what can I do! I don’t want to be “too stupid” but have not found any other jobs or income sources! God help me!

  2. Eddie Hudson Says:

    I AM SO THERE!!!! Where I’m currently contracting there were a couple coworkers and fellow contractors who were being put through the meat grinder nearly every day. They would speak up for themselves and defend their values and position. I would tell them in order to stay there, they needed to treat this as a ‘job, a living, a paycheck.’ All of them are gone but I believe its because they refused to accept mediocrity. Me? Even though I know my “service to the company is coming to an end” almost “any day now,” I still won’t make the move to get out and take care of myself. I need to shake myself and wake up!!!

  3. Donna Yates Says:


    Boy did this hit home! I know you’ve heard this a million times before but I have been feeling like I was meant to do so much more but don’t know what that is. I go to work everyday and feel like I’m worthless. I stay partly because I am a single mom with a son in college and I make a pretty decent salary. I keep telling myself that once he’s out of school, then I can pursue something else. WHAT I do not know yet. I know where I want to be but not what to do to support myself once I’m there. How do I find that??? If anyone out there has ideas, they can email me at I have a degree in health education and as a registered nurse, but work outside a clinical setting. I have worked in management for over 10 years for an insurance company. I would like to do something with meaning but with more freedom. I love working with my hands, decorating, doing minor remodels, creating new items from previously discarded items, and more. I can see the potential in older homes of what they can be-I’ve bought and sold a couple and fixed them up to their potential. People always tell me how talented I am in that area. They always want me to help them, but are not willing to pay unfortunately. Where do I start? How do I start? When do I start? Anyone??

  4. Keandre' Summers Says:

    This spoke volumes to me. These words provided me with the confirmation that I am going in the right direction. I’m going to be transparent a bit here. I am a convicted felon (15 years ago) and those “past” offenses still hinder my employment options. However, in these last year I have come to understand, by way of GOD, through CHRIST, that I am to move in an area of “real” meaningful work. I have commited myself to more ministry work and have been standing faithful that GOD will supply me and my families’ needs. I am so greatful for what HE has been doing in my wife and I. I don’t have a “secular” job per say but GOD is moving in a mighty way. My heart is full of Joy. I am working for GOD’S company, not man’s….but HE (the Lord) uinderstands we need finances to maintain in this world and HE has supplied the means to keep the message of Truth rolling. Bless you for this confiming article. Praise GOD the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. Amen . Keep up the good work!!

  5. Steve Sears Says:

    Good morning Dan:

    I can relate to this post. For 23 years, I worked as a computer operator, and I originally got into the field because my late father said, “That’s where the money is.”

    No matter how much I wanted to have a career as a writer, I listened to him.

    Well, back in 1996, when my only daughter was six weeks from starting kindergarten, I had a heart attack at age 34. It was a wake up call. While on disability, I started a part-time freelance writing career.

    This past summer, my compnay told me that my weekend work (not my entire job, just the weekend portion of my work week) was being transferred to Pune, India, and they said I’d have to start working four nights a week or five days a week.

    I had a decision to make. SHould I stay at the job, be “responsible” and continue to work at a job I hate and found boring AND curtail my writing career, or should I finally take the plunge and go full-time as a writer?

    I did the latter and, even though some days are rough, I feel more in control of my life. I have time for my family, and I finally feel like I and my services are respected.


  6. econobiker Says:

    Sure, tell the child support judge that you want to change careers to one that you love but that will pay 1/2 of your previous one. Ex-spouses and the legal system take a dim view on that one. Once you are locked into a lifestyle amount by the legal system, you have to support your children with that amount or pay a bunch of money in legal fees to justify why you cannot support your children with that same amount -which requires more money to do anyhow.

    An intact family would deal with the issue by taking the steps necessary to reduce costs/downsize in order to succeed while income was reduced. Divorced partners file contempt of court and back support paperwork forcing you to spend money to fight it.

    You’ll get to change careers when the children turn 18 and get a job or after they graduate college.

    Another FAIL for Dan’s subject matter.

  7. Richard Says:

    I can empathize with this post. For years I struggled with “doing the right thing” vs. doing what I love. About a month ago I decided and am on my second day of doing what I love. I’m still on the honeymoon so it’s too early to tell if it’s going to work out. I’ve got a gut feeling that it will.

    How did “work” get this way? Why are there so many people screaming on the inside to do something different? Has modern society given us too many choices in life or have we been brought up and sold a bill of goods that a higher education and job security equals the happy life??

  8. Kevin Says:

    I see my job as a means to an end. I have come to terms with my responsibility and have a plan to work myself out of a job. It will take 20 years, but in the end I will b able to retire and enjoy my grandkids. What I do now is so I can enjoy life later. When I ask myself what I would do if I didn’t have this job I can’t think of anything. What I want is to retire with dignity. How I get there doesn’t really matter.

  9. Tami Miller Says:

    This hits right where I am – falling under the typical “American view of work” where I have been “making a living when in truth something inside you is being killed each day.” This has been me for I don’t know how many years and it is “killing” me. What is even more tough is that my parents don’t openly support me – they are “stuck” in the rigid view of life where you have to do what you don’t want to do to get by. I don’t remember a day of my childhood where I did not have a responsibility or a chore of some kind. It seemed like I was always working even when I was on vacation. I am 39 years old with a college degree, working on my Master’s Degree in something I really want to do, unemployed and struggling to believe in the idea that it is okay to have fun in this life! There is always a nagging in the back of my mind of “tradition” as the Fiddler on the Roof said so eloquently.

  10. Ralph Says:

    Hah!! This WAS me to a T! Thank goodness they let me go. I’ve been barely making it on my own for two years now, It’s not easy and no where near as lucrative as the job. But, I have my sanity and peace back. Thats priceless. I remember being so exhausted and mentally frazled at work, that at the end of the 12 hour day, i would make the comment that I didn’t think I had sense enough to make it home.! It was like that every day. I may have to finf a job, but it will only be temporary. I refuse to seel my self out like that evere agin.

  11. Steve Says:


    Loved your comments.

    As far as I’m concerned, companies nowadays don’t give a damn about you. If they have to cut you — even after you work your tail off — they will.


  12. dandy123 Says:

    This post was right on time. I work in freight forwarding, I knew from day one I should not take the job but being a single mom I couldn’t turn down the pay increase. so here I am several years later, I get stomachaches every morning. I would love to be a personal chef or a writer, but have no idea how I can pull in enough $ moonlighting to quit my day job. I am a “true” single mom – I don’t get every other weekend off. Can’t afford to hire a babysitter and where I live it’s nearly impossible to find anyone that will sit on nights/weekends no matter how much you pay them – even the teenagers! Plus my child and I both have health conditions,I don’t know if we’d even be insurable on the open market. Any ideas?

  13. Terry Says:

    I am unemployed and unskilled, but I have found a little niche where I can earn a subsistence buying and reselling sinful goods.

    Not the sort of life I want, but I figure it’s sin or starve.

  14. Cork Hutson Says:

    Great blog Dan.

    I actually do work in a job I love! However, this was not always the case – for many years your article was describing me.

    For this reason, I also have been reaching out to people who feel “trapped” in an endless cycle of “conformity”. The goal is to make an orderly transition over the next 3 years to become fully involved in this endeavor. As I study how our very thoughts tend to direct our lives, I am amazed at the possibilities for anyone who truly embraces this concept.

    Romans 12:2 has become my new mantra, “be not conformed to this world, but BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND”! I have even begun teaching on this to my High School Sunday School class.

    Thanks again for all you are doing.

  15. Arthur @ Says:

    add me to the list. My career needs a major reboot and new start.

  16. Kathy Says:

    Thank you for this article. My parents told me-“not everyone likes there jobs, but they have to do it”. Most of my jobs I had, I could not stand. Try marking price tags on clothes with out much light. Most of us working there had to bring our own flashlights so we could see what we were doing.
    Right now I am unemployed-except I for a job I had started back in ’07 through a temp agency. Once a month or when they need help I get to go work for them. This is an amin job, but something I wouldn’t like full time. Whenever I need some cash-God’s timing is just right-they give me a call. Anyway, I am working two volunteer jobs that I love (and hopefully will turn to a paying job @ one or the other) and since I like to make things with my hands, I am learning to knit ( one of my volunteer jobs is for young unwed mothers, or for those who can’t afford clothing for children or if they are preg. so I am learning to knit baby blankets, clothes etc). I want to learn to quilt and retrain myself in sewing. I am keeping busy while looking for a job that I will like to do and not feel like a nobody.

  17. Tami Miller Says:

    I can completely relate to you on you wrote. My mom often told me sometimes you just have to do what you don’t want to do. Of course I know that, but since I was 12 years old I have often worked jobs that I did not like. I was not encouraged to seek jobs that fit who God h

  18. Tami Miller Says:

    I can completely relate to your comments. I have been told for many years by my folks that sometimes you just have to do what you don’t want to do. I know that is true in many cases in life. I don’t like to clean my bathroom, but I must do it. I have worked jobs since I was 12 years old starting with babysitting that I did not like. I don’t feel that I was ever encouraged to dream to become what God had made me to be. Now I find myself unemployed with a college degree and working on my Master’s and cannot even find a parttime job because I am over qualified. Keep pursuing your dreams. I will keep pursuing mine as well.

  19. Steve Says:

    Unless you “love” your job, take a risk and make the leap into doing something you love.

    If others have done it, so can you.

  20. Kevin Says:

    What do u do when u don’t know what u love?

  21. Steve Says:

    Perhaps a personal coach can help there.

    My response would be to “find” what you love. It’s there somewhere.

  22. Kevin Says:

    What do u do whne u don’t know what u love?

  23. Tami Miller Says:

    I recently took a risk, Steve, and left a job that causing me to be absolutely miserable. I decided to take a leap with God and trust in his provision. I am in the process right now of setting up initial consults with some job coaches. The problem for me is that I cannot afford anything further than the initial consult at this time. I want to go further with the job coaching process, but this is simply not feasible right now.

  24. Steve Says:

    I wish, Tami, I could help you more. But I also know that being miserable on the job is no good either.

    There are many books available that can help you take that next step. Or perhaps Dan can give you some pointers.

  25. Making a Living… or… « …and the story goes… Says:

    […] March 27, 2010 in Share (Taken from Dan Miller’s blog) […]

  26. Timothy Peterson Says:

    Help! I do not want to live the rest of my life that way. I need some guidance and resource to help me pursue a career filled with meaning and purpose.

  27. Earl Runcan Says:

    Tim – check out my website at It’s a brand new business opportunity waiting to explode. If you have an interest, I’ll help every way I can to give you the guidance and resources you need to become successful.

  28. Carl Beauchamp Says:

    I have changed careers about every eight years, requiring re-educating and re-inventing myself. Still, I have not found a career for which I have a passion or that hasen’t driven me into the ground. My current job slot
    “Safety & Health” has required me to change jobs within the same category eight times in 12 years and each job is like pushing a dead horse uphill. Companies don’t really want safety programs, don’t really hold safety as #1, and don’t value their employees as most of their Mission Statements profess. Greed has been the driving factor for every one of my employers, even the not-for profit companies. I am 57 years old and have never worked a job that I enjoyed or had a passion for. I have just about given up on ever finding a vocation that allows me to survive financially and is based upon talents provided from God. Despite my prayers, I have not been shown a direction. Help

  29. kcburk Says:

    Carl, I totally feel you, brother. I’m almost 40 and have given up ever finding any profession/job/whatever that will bring me any joy. So, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will work to build up my retirement so that when I’m older at least hopefully I wont have to work. I’ve lost count of the number of jobs or career changes I’ve made. I’ve about decided there is no such thing as job satisfaction. So, I try to find my satisfaction somewhere else. A job is just a necessary evil.

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