I think I do a decent job at my work—I like most of my tasks and most of my colleagues. But I struggle with job envy. A few of my colleagues are remarkable at what they do, and I’d love to have both their abilities and their opportunities. How can I know if I just need to settle down and be content, or if I’m in the wrong job and should be looking for something where I can be brilliant?
First off, I appreciate the authenticity in your question. This is an honest tension I believe most of us struggle with.
While it can be easy to glorify the world-changers at the top of the org chart, most of us are plodding along in our daily work, grateful for the opportunity our job affords us and struggling through the muck of the mundane. This feels more like the daily life I’ve come to know.
Regardless of our status, though, that ancient thief of joy—comparison—is always knocking at our door.
So I hear the longings beneath your question. I hear the discontentment, which flows from a frustrated identity. After all, if our identity is misplaced, our work and our worship tend to be as well.
As my former pastor and friend Scott Sauls often says, “God has not called you to be awesome. Rather, he has called you to be humble, faithful, forgiven, and free.”
We can leave the awesome to Jesus.
Content ‘In All Things’
The apostle Paul offers some helpful insight when it comes to wrestling with contentment. Consider the popular verse: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). This has been overused as a sports-team motto, inspiration for passing that test you didn’t study for, and generally bootstrapping your way to success through life’s various trials.
But that’s not what Paul is getting at.
The book of Philippians is an affectionate letter to a church he loves, and in this final exhortation he writes of God’s provision—both for himself and also for this beloved body of believers:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Phil 4:10–12)
The famous next sentence—”I can do all things through him who strengthens…