COVID-19 has increased stress levels at work and left many more people feeling dissatisfied with their jobs. If you're thinking of quitting, consider taking a fresh perspective of the "curse" of work and check out some practical tips on changing jobs.

COVID-19 has changed the workplace in many significant ways. Many of us have learned to work from home, and many companies have discovered that they can actually operate without their employees sitting in the office. But that has also created many stresses for both workers and bosses.

Surveys in Singapore as well as globally have shown that many employees are actually feeling more stress as a result of working from home. Many report working longer hours as the lines blur between office and home, or struggle with having to balance work responsibilities with taking care of the family and household chores. For some, the fear of retrenchment—which has increased significantly—and being sidelined have added anxiety to the mix. The constant flow of reports about companies doing poorly or closing down also don’t help.

In such situations, it’s tempting to start asking ourselves: Should I quit my job?

At the heart of such a question often lies dissatisfaction. Let’s be honest: very few of us are in a perfect job. Take a look at this list of possible sources of dissatisfaction, and you’ll probably find one or two (or more) that sound familiar:

  • Lack of challenge
  • An irritating boss or co-worker
  • Extreme pressure to produce
  • Low wages
  • Poor working conditions or equipment
  • Lack of respect
  • Conflicts over procedures and policies
  • No sense of accomplishment
  • Job insecurity
  • Long, tiring hours
  • Conflicts with personal or family life
  • Physical and/or emotional exhaustion
  • Poor communication
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Favouritism

Work Wasn’t Always Difficult

Before looking at what we can do, perhaps it will help to understand this truth: God had created work as a good thing, a thing of joy and blessing—but sin has turned it into a process filled with pain.

When God first tasked Adam and Eve to take care of the garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28–30), it was a perfect job. The land was fruitful and resources were unlimited. But Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and as a result, their work became a thing of difficulty: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17–19).

Since then, all workers have had to face their own version of “thorns and thistles” that have hindered work and caused pain.

Though we may feel otherwise, the truth is this: work itself is not a curse. The perfect life is not work-free; work was part of the Lord’s blueprint for daily life in Paradise.

When we accept this godly perspective on work, we will not only find fulfilment, but we will also realise that in almost every job, there is a way of working for and with God.

Though we may feel otherwise, the truth is this: work itself is not a curse. The perfect life is not work-free; work was part of the Lord’s blueprint for daily life in Paradise.

This is because our new perspective of work will show us a new “job description” as found in the Bible. It tells us whom we report to, what our duties are, and how we will be compensated. It shows us the significance of what we are doing, and gives us a plan for working through difficulties in our relationships with bosses, colleagues, employees, and customers.

Take a look at these four principles that could help you find satisfaction in your work:

1. Know Whom You’re Working for

Consider this truth: We’re not really working for our supervisor at the store, the office, the factory, the construction site, or any other workplace.

Ultimately, we are all working for the Lord. He is the boss’ Boss, the supervisor’s Supervisor, the foreman’s Foreman, the manager’s Manager. The Bible reminds us in many verses (e.g. 1 Chronicles 16:31) that the Lord is the ultimate ruler over all of the earth.

If we keep this wonderful truth in mind, our attitude will be transformed. Why? Because we will be ultimately reporting to an Employer who has our best interests at heart—a Boss who is concerned about every one of us, and who wants to help us in every aspect of our work.

God cares deeply about our work because our actions on the job reflect our inner character and our level of devotion to Him. We were created to reflect God’s nature (Genesis 1:26–27), and we were given abilities to use for His glory. Jesus himself said: “‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).

How will this change our attitude towards the people we work with each day? If we are praying for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew. 6:10), then we will be allowing Him to use us as His instruments in carrying out His purposes. Instead of seeing ourselves as victims of our circumstances or pawns of our employer, we will see ourselves as God’s people of action who can positively affect our environment instead of being controlled by it.

Recognising that we are really working for the Lord is the all-important first step to finding satisfaction on the job. As we look at how we can make our work more closely fit the job description that God has written out for our lives, our lives will become more purposeful, more meaningful, and more satisfying.

Instead of seeing ourselves as victims of our circumstances or pawns of our employer, we will see ourselves as God’s people of action who can positively affect our environment instead of being controlled by it.

Ask yourself: Why does God want me to work? What do I give to God and others when I work? Why is giving to others more satisfying than serving only myself? Do my colleagues know that I am a Christian—and are they drawn to Christ because of my life and example?

2. Make Your Job Work for You

In modern society, where our jobs are measured by performance and pay, it can be hard to see how our faith in Christ relates to our work. But it does. God not only cares about how we serve Him at church and at home, but He also wants to be involved in every aspect of our workdays.

God cares how we make a sale, how we treat a customer, how we respond to a boss, how we work with colleagues, how we handle company property, and how we deal with everyday irritations and major crises. He cares about our choice of career and how well we represent Him on the job. God is concerned about helping us to become better workers in all kinds of situations.

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul told Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” Although he was speaking in the context of teaching God’s Word, the principle applies to all types of work. We need to strive for excellence, no matter what our job.

God is concerned about helping us to become better workers in all kinds of situations.

So, instead of seeing work as a necessary evil that must be endured until the end of each day, perhaps we can ask ourselves: How can I become a better person while on the job?

Consider these four points:

  1. Each problem on the job is an opportunity to do what is right and become more godly through it. James noted that when our faith is tested, it produces patience and ultimately makes us perfect and complete (James 1:3–4). Paul, too, observed that difficulties produce perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3–4).
  2. The Lord will reward faithful work done for His sake. Even though we may not get the respect and pay we feel we deserve, God knows what we are doing, and will reward us accordingly, for we are ultimately serving the Lord, and not men (Ephesians 6:5–8; Colossians 3:23–24).
  3. It pleases God for us to submit to both good and bad employers. After Peter urged workers to “submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” (1 Peter 2:18–19), he reminded us that Jesus himself suffered wrongfully but endured it patiently (v. 21).
  4. We are to overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17–18, 21 tells us: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Ask yourself: What areas of my attitude and behaviour need improvement? How have I used difficulties to help me to become a better worker and a more Christlike person? What problems are beyond my control, and how can I pray about them?

3. Keep Work in Its Place

At least one-third of each workday is spent working. If we sleep 8 hours, then work takes up half of the hours we’re awake. Tack on the time we take to prepare for work and to “unwind” after (and commuting time, if we’re still going to office), as well as time we spend thinking about work, and we’ll find that work takes up a big chunk of our lives.

So how can we avoid letting work dominate our lives? The answer lies in our expectations and our attitude towards it.

If we look at work as our primary source of fulfilment in life, then we will likely squeeze out all other interests in life—including our personal life, family, friends, church, and community interests—into the background. Work will become our god.

Solomon, the wise king and philosopher, famously said:

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done

and what I had toiled to achieve,

everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:11)

But Solomon also wrote:

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.
(Ecclesiastes 3:9–13).

Many of us get bogged down in the moment-by-moment activities of life, which can lead to frustration. But if we are able to put our trust in God’s sovereign control and live responsibly, we will find satisfaction.

Solomon was not suggesting that we take a pessimistic view of life or resigned ourselves to it passively. Rather, he was urging us to recognise that satisfaction with our work is a “gift of God”. Even though life is far from perfect, we can trust that God is active in our work, and that He will give us satisfaction in the little things of life.

At this point, you might ask: Don’t I have to work hard to provide for myself and my family’s needs? Well, the Bible addresses this issue too.

In Matthew 6, Jesus told His followers not to fret about what they would eat or drink, but to seek first God’s kingdom; then God would supply their needs.

Too often, we get things backwards. We pursue the things of life first, thinking that we are the masters of our destinies, the sole providers of what we need to survive. But we may forget that ultimately, it is the Lord who supplies our needs, not our own efforts. While there is a place for hard work, the Lord is the One who blesses our efforts (Deuteronomy 6:10–12; Proverbs 10:4–5).

Even though life is far from perfect, we can trust that God is active in our work, and that He will give us satisfaction in the little things of life.

While we need to see the value that God places on our work, we also need to keep life in balance. We must see work as only one of many important parts of our lives. Work is necessary to survival and essential to living out the way God designed us. It gives us an avenue to fulfil our life’s purpose of loving God and loving others—but we are not to overdo it nor ignore it.

Ask yourself: Why do I work? Have I given attention to other areas in my life? Would I consider myself a workaholic, a balanced person, or someone who needs to put more effort into life?

4. Look for a Better Fit

You may feel that your current job doesn’t allow you to practise any of the above principles. Or, you may find yourself in such a bad work situation that it leaves you only with the option—to look for another job in another workplace, or even take on a new type of job.

In some cases, quitting one place to join another could be a temporary solution. We could face the same problems at our new workplace, or run from one kind of problem to another. After all, no company is perfect. So, before quitting, consider all the reasons you want to leave. Consider the impact on your family, your church, your community life, your personal integrity, and your relationship with the Lord.

Take a look at these five “GUIDE” steps that could help you discover God’s will for you:

  • Go to the Lord. Being in a right relationship with God is necessary if you want Him to help you. You need to trust Him, obey Him, and pray.
  • Understand His principles. What biblical issues apply to your decision?
  • Investigate your options. What are your options, the pros and cons, and the consequences of those choices? How do your interests, talents, and weaknesses fit with your job choices? How could you be most effective for the Lord?
  • Discuss it with others. Talk with people in various professions and also with trusted friends.
  • Express your freedom. If you’re depending on the Lord, and have given it much thought, move ahead by faith. The Lord will honour you when you honour Him by including Him in the process.

Excerpted and adapted from How Can I Find Satisfaction In My Work? by Kurt DeHaan © Our Daily Bread Ministries.