The Decline of Job Satisfaction

Why does it seem the most grueling jobs are the factory jobs; the assembly lines; the monotonous and repetitive cycle of “partial” work? I have worked those jobs. Every employee, from the moment they first arrive each day are ready and eager to leave. And they let you know it the entire time. There is no job satisfaction and ultimately there is no real motivation to give your best. Why is this? How is it that these people (those who do “partial” work) find no purpose or motivation in their work, yet others such as teachers, handy-men, and bakers do?

Partial vs. Completion

I came across a page from Doug Wilson that is very helpful:

“At creation, God was pleased with the creativity He brought to completion. Industrial labor often severs us from the completed work of our hands. We don’t oversee the project from beginning to end; most tend to know only parts. Again, that’s not sinful at all, but it has to be less than satisfying to never be able to mold something from beginning to end. That’s why moderns have to have hobbies. They can’t find satisfaction in their money-earning work, so many seek creative satisfaction in model planes and trains.”

It is because those jobs call for “partial” work. Nothing is brought to
completion. Having the role of a part within a part encourages resentment. One is handed a work in progress, adds to it, and passes it on to the next “part,” on and on until he or she is freed for the day. Stuff the bag with chips, add pickle and ketchup, heat the steel and hammer it straight. Contrast that with the teacher who sees their students grow and progress through their classes, a handy-man who takes something broken and restores it, a woodworker who goes from block to clock, or the farmer who reaps what he sowed come harvest time. There is a job satisfaction. Wilson continues:

job satisfaction“All morally legitimate work may have dignity, but it’s simply headburying to assert that it’s all equally satisfying and enjoyable. Stamping out the same metal part hour after hour or filling out eternal bureaucratic forms can’t be as enjoyable as more creative occupations. Why kid ourselves? Solomon was honest enough about labor: “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me” (Eccl. 2:17, 18). Though we may be grateful that someone does the tedious work without complaining would any parent really wish that upon his child? That’s a sure test. Surely part of tedious labor is an added curse: “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 2:26). God says he gives tediousness to sinners. That should give us pause. Tedious labor isn’t a romantic ideal. And yet, “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much” (Eccl. 5:12). So Solomon recognizes a difference between the sweetness of labor and the tedious curse of “collecting and gathering” work.”

So what can we say? Well, our public schools were modeled after and designed to meet the demands of the industrial revolution. No Child Left Behind and common core ensure that creativity is suppressed. But there is a new generation brewing. More and more families are starting small, family-ran companies out of their homes. Christian homeschooling continues to produce creative and business-minded kids. More and more people are seeing the importance of small businesses and opposing unions and government meddling. 


So let me conculde with a few things:

  • Keep working. Don’t up and quit your job. Yet, do keep that astute sense of ‘uncomfortableness.’
  • Save some money. The Bible says “Owe no one anything..” (Romans 13:8). Christians should be “free” people. We should work to be outjob satisfaction of debt and on the plus side of things, so that we are not dependent, enslaved (Prov. 22:7), and will be able to advance the kingdom through many different channels. Work to get on the positive side of dependence. Be able to provide and pursue the following steps.
  • Evaluate your goals and strengths. Everyone is an expert in something and the key is finding those who need your services. Make short term goals as well as lifetime goals.  Make a plan. Set a timetable. Write out the steps. 
  • Continue to make connections. Don’t simply live a virtual life where you have friends globally that you know nothing about except they have interesting status updates or tweets. Christians are in the business of serving others. So serve. Make connections. Provide advice/help as you can, and receive advice/help along the way. Form networks. 

So find work that you can see to completion. Find job satisfaction. Stop complaining and settling for something you despise. Life is short. Our God is big!