Making Sense of a Less-Than-Perfect Job

I read about 10-15 resumes a day as a recruitment manager in my company, which engages around a hundred part-time trainers monthly. Many of them begin or end with this line: “I hope you can seriously consider my application as this is my dream job.”

Inevitably, I will get a long email or WhatsApp message from the new hire some two months into his or her job. It will say something like this: “Dear Hiring Manager, I regret to inform you that I . . .”—and go on to say that the new hire wants to quit. These are the top reasons given:

  1. There are too many hidden expectations.
  2. My personality is not well-suited for this job.
  3. This is not what I thought the job would be like.

Perhaps it really isn’t the “dream job” many of these hires envision it to be, but this trend of quitting just a few months into a job got me thinking: Should we be looking for the “dream job”?

While the Bible does not answer this question, it gives us stories of individuals whom we can learn from. Joseph is one example. Not only was he thrust into a completely new and foreign environment after his brothers sold him as a slave, he was practically thrown from job to job. Despite his unfortunate circumstances, however, he did his best in every position, including as a prisoner. Doesn’t this remind you of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23? “Whatever you do, work at it with all you heart, as working for the Lord and not for man.”

Having gone through five years of teaching and three years in the corporate world, I’ve learned a few lessons about work—and am still learning.

a. There is no perfect job

Just as there is no perfect marriage—since it is a union of two imperfect beings—there is no perfect or dream job. There are, however, jobs that will allow us to be challenged daily and enable us to work on our weaknesses while honing our strengths.

My primary role in my current job is to teach, but I also get to come up with character and leadership programmes based on biblical principles. I also have to do everything myself, from printing and filing to churning out reports and delivering lessons. It may not be the perfect job, but it allows me to learn new skills while pursuing my passion for both the Bible and young people. The fact that I can use my talent and skills daily gives me joy.

Joseph did not become the governor of the world’s most advanced civilization overnight. The management and decision-making skills would have come from managing Potiphar’s household and from his time in prison, before he became Egypt’s governor.

What did you enjoy doing when you were growing up? Do you like working with your hands or analyzing difficult concepts? These are clues to help you decide what type of job you ought to look for.

b. There is no such thing as a homogeneous team

In any company, you’ll find that different people will have different expectations of you. That’s because people have different work ethics and management styles. Even if a company has a clear vision and hires a particular type of staff, each individual is unique.

When I first started at my current company, I almost drove my bosses mad. People here are organized and keep their table-tops clean, but I occupied any flat surface I could find with my handwritten notes, worksheets, and draft plans. Although I worked best this way, it did not mean I had the right to do it at the expense of others. So I compromised by moving my “workspace” into the outer office. That way, my colleagues could work in peace while I had the freedom to move around.

Joseph could not choose whom he worked with, but he could choose how he worked. He was stuck in a less-than-ideal job situation, yet the Bible shows us that he kept a positive work attitude and good work ethic.

Do you know your unique God-created function? Are you a confident communicator, a comforting listener, or a meticulous note-taker? The way God shaped you can give insight into what you can offer your team.

c. There is always room for growth

Proverbs 9:9 tells us, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

When it comes to work, some of us are so good at what we do that we think we’ve attained it all. What next, then? While it’s great to be good at our jobs, there’s always room for improvement. Mastered PowerPoint? Learn to use Excel. Mastered public speaking? Learn the art of listening. A worker who constantly seeks to grow not only adds value to the company, but also gains lifelong skills for himself or herself.

As a teacher, I’ve been certified for some “skills” outside the classroom: kayaking, white-water rafting, floorball coaching, national exam marking . . . and so on. It’s a strange assortment, I must admit, but I’ll never know when they will come in handy. (A month-long backpacking trip in New Zealand, maybe?)

From the life of Joseph, I’ve learned that there might never be that perfect job, but I can align my heart, attitude, and work ethic with the perfect God. That makes all the difference.

5 replies
  1. Christine
    Christine says:

    Thanks for the article. This is actually something my friend and I have been trying to hash out over the past couple weeks/months. When does one decide to stay at a job and when does one move on? There are no perfect jobs, and too often we throw in the towel early. But what would be some good reasons to leave a job? I’d love to see a follow-up article on the topic. 🙂

    • Ishaya
      Ishaya says:

      I am going through the same issue as your friend and I’m in desperate need of help. And to make matters worse, I’m studying for my masters and its been impossible finding a balance between the two. Good question, I hope someone responds.

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