Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happiness: What Would It Take?

I've probably interviewed over a hundred people for various positions over the years. Once, when asked what she was looking for in her next position, an applicant answered that she was looking for a job where she could be happy. What an insight into how this candidate's mind worked! It immediately seemed to me that this was someone who wasn't taking responsibility for her own happiness. She was relying on external forces which she had little to no control over to make her happy and denying that she "could" be happy no matter her circumstances.

As a manager, it is my job to make the best possible work environment for my employees, but I'm not perfect, so it stands to reason that working with or for me will eventually, in some way, be a challenge. And, besides, there are business needs that need to be filled that may mean assignments that people dislike. While I can do my best every day, I cannot choose or ensure happiness for my direct reports. That's something they have to choose for themselves. This truth translates from the workplace and into the lives of all believers.

In Philippians, Paul tells us to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (4:4, ESV). A few verses later, Paul explains that he puts this into practice himself: "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [...] I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (4:11-13, ESV) Always, and in every situation, we should practice joy and contentment. Not just when our bosses are gushing about how awesome we are. Not just when all of our customers are happy. Not just when we get something special to work on. Not just when we're cashing our paychecks.

It's not that I think a person should stay in a job situation that's difficult for them just to practice contentment. I would just like to suggest that people are responsible for their own attitudes and their own joy. Unless we make the choice to be happy, we could have all the money or power or fun jobs or puppies or friends in the world and still find something that makes us miserable.

Sure, there's a trick to being happy. Paul calls it a secret, but he also shares it with us from across the centries: it's to remember that we can do all things through Christ. Even be happy, regardless of our circumstances.

Your Sister

1 comment:

  1. It's so easy to let our joy depend on external circumstances! Thanks for the reminder of Philippians.

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