What’s Killing Your Soul?

While having coffee with a friend at a local cafe recently I overheard two women at the next table talking about work. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop so I only caught bits and pieces of the conversation but one particular sentence stuck with me.

I don’t hate my job …. but it is killing my soul.

Wow. How could you not hate something that is killing your soul?

A survey conducted last year by Survey Sampling International on behalf of SEEK Learning showed that while less than half of Australian workers are happy with their jobs, only a small percentage are actively looking to change their situation. Part of that is due to a lack of options relating to skill levels or opportunities in some areas of work but it’s still startling to think that so many people are willing to ‘settle’ for spending their working week doing something they either don’t like or worse, feel is doing them harm.

The most startling thing about hearing the woman in the cafe talking about her job is that she realises that it is ‘killing her soul’ but she still doesn’t hate it. How do we get so complacent in anything that we no longer hate the things that feel like they’re robbing us of life?

Our soul is the very deepest part of who we are. It goes beyond the body that we can see. It has been described as ‘the eternal component of man that is fashioned in the very image of God, and that can exist apart from the physical body.’

When Jesus was preparing his disciples, one of the things he told them was … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? – Matthew 16:26

Have you settled in some areas of your life even though you know it’s destroying you from the inside out? Of course, I’m not just talking about being in a dead end job. There are behaviours, attitudes and thought patterns that can creep into our lives which left unchallenged will leave our hearts hardened to the damage that is happening to our souls. Has it just become easier to put up with everything that has crowded into your life rather than fighting back and taking care of what matters most?

What are the things in your life that are killing your soul?

If there’s something that’s damaging or killing your soul, it’s time to start hating that thing. It’s time to make changes.

What have you been willing to tolerate even though it is leading you down a road you don’t want to travel?

You cannot change what you are willing to tolerate.
– Craig Groeschel

The good news is that God is willing and ready to help us overcome whatever it is that is killing our souls. It’s not about turning over a new leaf or trying harder but about turning over each area of our lives to the one who created our souls and wants the very best for us.

Don’t let a job, a habit, the expectations of others or anything else kill your soul. Identify what’s killing your soul and with Jesus’ help turn your back on it. Then let Jesus bring new life to your soul.

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Feeling Dispensable

I’m completely dispensable.

If I left my job tomorrow there’d be a time of adjustment but everything would carry on. I’m not an essential cog in the wheel.

This is the final week of four weeks annual leave for me and I’m feeling less and less like a required piece of the picture. The truth is that Compassion survived and grew for over 60 years without me before I began working there and they’ll keep operating long after I’m gone.

I’m starting to feel like I’m not needed at work.

… and that’s a good thing.

I have every intention of continuing to work for Compassion for many years to come. I believe passionately in what we do and want to be part of that for as long as possible but there’s something about a few weeks away from work that brings a certain kind of clarity.

When we’re busy keeping up with the demands of a job, and I think this is especially true of jobs in Christian ministry, we can start to take on a weight we were never meant to bear. We start to believe that we’re irreplaceable and if we’re not working all the time everything will collapse. We grab a week’s leave here or two weeks there, never daring to take more than that because there’d be nothing left by the time we returned.

It’s not necessarily an ego thing or an inflated sense of self-importance, it’s more about becoming so busy juggling all the balls our job requires that we become convinced that the moment we step away, even for a time, all those balls will come crashing down. That sense of needing to be available all the time builds slowly and most often sub-consciously. It’s rarely an expectation from our employers, rather it’s a false expectation that comes from within.

I’ve spoken to a number of people, especially pastors and ministry leaders, who have weeks and weeks, sometimes months, of unused leave that they don’t believe they can take.

I sometimes wonder which is the greatest fear for some of these people; that things would crumble without them around or that things would continue largely unchanged.

Taking several weeks of leave at a time allows us to step outside our own expectations and demands. I’ve found at this and other jobs that after a good chunk of leave I return to work feeling less like I’m essential and more like I have an important role to fulfil. I find that the weight of my own unrealistic expectations is less, which helps me focus more on what I’m really meant to be doing. It helps me become more productive and more effective at the tasks at hand.

I’m excited about my work in 2017. I know that it’s going to be busy and productive, with all the ups and downs, thrills and disappointments that come with such a job. I’m looking forward to getting a new year underway. I’ll return to work in a few days knowing that while I’m not essential for the long-term effectiveness of the ministry, I have the privilege of playing a part, an important part, in what we need to achieve over the next twelve months.

When was the last time you stepped away from work for an extended period?

Do you find that you only take a couple of weeks at a time and return to work just as frazzled as when you left? Are your own expectations becoming a burden that you’re not sure you can continue to carry?

If you’re one of those people who ‘do holidays well’ maybe you can leave a few comments about how you make your annual leave work for you.

I’m really glad that I’m not needed at work, but I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to work doing something I love.

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Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss

Do you reckon you could disguise yourself so well that people wouldn’t recognise you?

Have you ever watched the TV show Undercover Boss? It’s been a successful worldwide television franchise with local versions in over a dozen countries.

The idea is that the CEO of a company puts on a disguise, and they’re usually pretty dodgy disguises, then spends time undercover finding out what’s going on behind the scenes within their company.

Each episode features a high-ranking executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in his or her own company. The executives alter their appearance and assume an alias and fictional back-story. The fictitious explanation given for the accompanying camera crew is that the executives are being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers in a particular industry, or a competition with another individual with the winner getting a job with the company. They spend approximately one to two weeks undercover (one week being the norm in some editions, such as the U.S. version, and two weeks in some other versions, such as the Australian edition), working in various areas of their company’s operations, with different parts and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of their time undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to travel to a central location—often corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through promotion, or financial rewards; while other employees are given training, better working conditions, or, in extreme cases, termination. – Wiki

I’ve wondered why those programs draw us in. I think it’s because we recognise something inside ourselves in the people of the show. We see someone who has battled to keep going, facing all kinds of struggles, who is finally recognised. Finally someone understands their pain. The boss gives them a big hug and says I see what’s happening for you and I want to make things right.

Most of us aren’t just looking for recognition but when someone does see what’s really happening in our lives we feel somehow validated.

The interesting thing is the way that before the workers on Undercover Boss find out they’re working alongside the CEO they have all kinds of ideas about their management not caring, but once they actually meet them, they see something completely different.

I wonder if we truly realise that there is someone who sees us and who knows the struggles we’re facing. I wonder if we understand that this boss is actually the creator of everything yet he still cares deeply for us, so much so that he sacrificed everything to restore relationship with us.

This creator, in the person of Jesus says to us in the Bible, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Whatever you’ve thought of this ‘boss’ up to this point, let me encourage you to get to know the one who knows you and wants to provide rest for you; deep rest that refreshes your soul.

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Go Home!!


Working back a little today? Need to do a little unpaid overtime? Think again. It’s officially Go Home on Time Day. Yep … that’s actually a thing.

National Go Home on Time Day is an initiative of The Australia Institute, Australia’s most influential progressive think tank.

The day was conceived in 2009 as a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about the impact of poor work/life balance on our health, relationships and workplaces.

Now in its seventh year, Go Home on Time Day on Wednesday 18 November is a great way to recognise that life doesn’t need to revolve around work.

If you’re someone who feels you need to go above and beyond … all the time … it’s probably time to reassess.

While many people can afford to be a little more conscientious at work, there’s a growing number of employees who are putting a little too much effort into their work at the expense of family, friends and relaxation.

The Australia Institute doesn’t just thing that the extra time you’re putting in is hurting you, your family and your relationships, they believe it’s hurting Australia. You can read their full report here. So if putting in all those extra hours is something you’ve been meaning to deal with at some time, make that time today and go home on time. Then start to think through how to pull back those hours that really do belong to you. Do it not only for yourself but for those you love. Here are a few hints to get you started.

Measures that could improve work life balance include:
1. Starting a conversation about work life balance with your employer.
2. Deciding what time you are going home before you go to work
3. Scheduling activities after work to ensure you leave on time
4. Improving workplace practices around recognising and responding to work
related stress.
5. Requiring all organisations that employ more than 100 staff to publish the
results of an externally conducted, and nationally consistent, survey of
employee satisfaction.

So … what time are you going home today?

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The Future of Work


I’ve just been reading a great article at McCrindle titled Technology, Innovation & Collaboration: The Future of Work with Claire Madden.

As those of us that have been labelled as Baby Boomers get set to move out of the workforce (to live on our children’s inheritance), Generation Z is getting ready to take our place. Their working lives won’t simply be different from ours, they’ll be different from the generations in between us as well. We’ve already seen big changes in work habits and work lives but the change is about to accelerate.

Generation Z bring new approaches to work, problem solving, innovation and collaboration. They have been born into an era of unprecedented change – this will be reflected in their approach to their careers. Today’s annual turnover rate is 15% per annum which equates to people staying in their roles for approximately 3 years 4 months. Projected over the lifetime of a school leaver today it is estimated they will have 17 jobs across 5 careers in their lifetime.

Most of us in the workforce now have had a number of jobs and perhaps a few careers. The idea of someone joining a company at 15 and staying until retirement is already a part of history but now we’ve got to wonder if those about to start their working lives will ever qualify for long service leave.

There’s a lot more of interest in the McCrindle article and it’s well worth taking the time to read it in full. I guess I still can’t get past the idea of someone having 17 jobs across 5 careers. As the world around us, especially the world of technology, changes ever more rapidly, it seems our lives are changing more than ever. Where is the room for stability when our jobs, careers and our homes are constantly changing? How do we view the certainties of life when life becomes so changeable?

I’ve had a few jobs myself.

I must admit that I’ve had a few jobs over many years. I began full time work as an apprentice chef. After four years I was handed the certificate to say that I was qualified. I then promptly left the industry.

I worked within the Education Department for five years, in radio for around twenty full time years and about 6 part time, I was employed by the Bible Society for five years and almost two years ago began working for Compassion Australia. I’m now 52 so I’m hoping I still have quite a number of working years ahead of me. I don’t know what the future may hold but I’m hoping that a large part of it will be staying right where I am, seeking to see many more children released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

What has your work life looked like so far? Are you still in the same job you started in? Are you even in the same career? I’d be really interested to hear your experience of work, whether you’ve been in the workforce for a short time or you’re nearing the end of your working life. How have you seen society’s attitudes to work change over the time you’ve been employed?

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