So I just started watching Cheers. I’m an episode-and-a-half in as of the beginning of writing this, and I love it. The characters are fantastic, the setting is brilliant and the dialogue is snappy and funny.
Maybe it’s just the show, but a bar seems like a lovely place to work to me. You’ve got a steady flow of people, a group of co-workers, it’s usually a laid-back environment. Of course that’s not the case for every bar, but Cheers looks like a bar where I’d love to work.
Kinda makes me want to go find a bar to work at.
But two things hold me back. First, I’m not qualified to be a bartender. I don’t know anything about alcohol. Second, I don’t want to just quit my job now and give up.
A 2013 Forbes article reported that around two million Americans on average voluntarily leave their jobs every month. That’s staggering. That’s back when the economy was rough, even rougher than it is today.
Why do that many people leave their jobs? Dissatisfaction with the boss, unchallenging assignments, tough workplace environments, lots of reasons. Many of them can be legitimate reasons and people need to get out for their emotional or mental health.
But I wonder how many of those two million people simply quit when they didn’t need to. I can relate to them. Remember, I’m a quitter. I like finding reasons to give up. I like finding things that I’m discontent about in my work. Well, I don’t really like it, but I do it so much that sometimes I think I do like it.
So what do we do when we’re in a job that we’re not exactly thrilled with but, for whatever reason, can’t find another one? Maybe we’re getting married soon and need a steady paycheck with good benefits. Maybe we’ve got kids we’re trying to put through school and they need that money. Maybe we’re trying to pay off a house purchase and any other options won’t fulfill the space in our budget we’ve set aside for payments. Maybe it’s not that bad of a job, but we’re honestly just a little frustrated with what we have.
I believe you have to look no further than the story of Elijah for a little inspiration.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah, a prophet of God, was under duress. Jezebel – the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel – was sending men to kill Elijah after he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Elijah ran. Verses 4-6a:
But (Elijah) himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree.
So Elijah’s in a pretty bleak situation with his occupation. Yes, this is ministry, so it may not directly be related to what we would consider normal “secular” jobs today. But let’s put it this way: his “co-workers” (the people surrounding him) are trying to kill him, his mental state is not good, his workspace (sitting under a broom tree) is not exactly the most amenable. (Maybe this is a stretch, but just go with it for me.)
What does God do? God sends an angel to provide Elijah with “a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water” (v. 6) twice. Elijah then “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (v. 8).
What do we learn from this? Elijah’s situation didn’t get fixed. His work environment was still stressful. People were still trying to kill him. What God did was crucial for Elijah, and it’s something important we can learn for getting through our uncomfortable job situation.
God provided Elijah with motivation outside of himself. God provided Elijah with food out of nowhere. God gave Elijah sustenance to continue on. At jobs we dislike, our motivation is often sapped and drained because of the environment or the working conditions. If we truly can’t get out of the job, we need something outside of the job to keep us moving forward in it.
Sometimes there will be certain things at the job that can excite us and motivate us. But sometimes even those things will let us down.
I write this today to encourage those of you who are in jobs you can’t stand but have no other options: don’t give up. It’s not worth it to give up for no reason. You can still make a difference. The key is finding that exterior motivation, like Elijah did, that motivation outside yourself and your mind that can keep you going.
I’m praying as I type this that whoever reads this would find that motivation. I sincerely do.
Love you guys.