Start listening to conversations between friends and coworkers about their work. Are those conversations more characterized by frustration and complaining or celebration and gratitude? For most, we’ll more quickly see and lament what is hard and wrong with our work. The pressure. The out-of-touch manager. The unrealistic goal. The email inbox. The toxic or underperforming coworker.
Over-focusing on these places of brokenness in our work is more than just a glass half empty. It points to both the need and reality that G. K. Chesterton observed: “Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult.”
Knowing this about the work of the monks and priests he led, Ignatius of Loyola encouraged gratitude for all life experiences as a foundational Christian practice. In his “Principle and Foundation,” he writes: “All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.”
Our work is such a large part of our “with God” life, so it can be a place where we seek to intentionally grow in gratitude.
- What is good, right, and beautiful about your job? Your company? Your industry? Take time to reflect upon these questions as an antidote to complaining and cynicism about your work.
- Take two minutes each workday this month and list five things about your work that you are thankful to God for, or things that you want to celebrate (e.g., people, accomplishments, opportunities, a great pen, etc.). Each day, add five different reflections, so you end up with a list of almost 100 ways you are grateful by the end of the month.
- Consider ways you can encourage gratitude and celebration in your workplace — both thanking others and encouraging greater gratitude in others.
- Adele Calhoun offers this wonderful suggestion that you can apply to your work: “Notice your tendency to make comparisons that result in feelings of dissatisfaction or entitlement. Practice abstaining from comparative statements about what you don’t have. Instead give thanks for what you do have.”
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This post was published June 2, 2021
Brian is the VP of Formation here at DIFW and also leads our 5280 Fellowship program. Prior to landing at DIFW, he served in pastoral ministry for thirteen years and at Denver Seminary for four years. His vocation includes moving ideas out into life through relationships and conversation – whether that applies to God, work, the Church, good beer, or Liverpool Football Club. He married way out of his league, and spends most of his free-time being parented by his two daughters.