I’m so excited for Easter! It is my favorite celebration day because the entire day is about joy, hope, and life-change. So, it brought a huge smile to my face when our three kids, who are spread across the country, all said they wanted to be home with us for Easter because for them as well, it is their favorite celebration day. With limited time and budgets, we’ve decided as a family to meet in Arizona—our first “home” as a family. And this sparked my excitement even further because it means we will attend worship at the first church I served at in ministry—it is still ministry “home” for me. I certainly wasn’t paid the big bucks during my time on staff, but my relational bank was always overflowing; I worked with an amazing team and served wonderful families—my “work” definitely had meaning and purpose that was far more rewarding and fulfilling than any paycheck.
In Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of The Progress Principle, there is a ton of material and research that supports the importance of why meaningful work is so important to progress and success. The church I will visit next week is an example of this principle: the staff feel meaning in their work and as a result, the church has grown to over 10,000 members—lives in the church and the community are changed because of the ministry taking place there each day. Here are some key points from these chapters that you won’t want to miss as you read:
When Meaning Dies: Nothing can be quite so miserable as being in a job or position that you find no meaning or fulfillment in. While a paycheck can be rewarding, if the work isn’t meaningful, the productivity will flat line and people will be looking for the nearest exit. Authors Amabile and Kramer describe three things that can kill meaning at work:
1. A loss of ownership in the work one is doing;
2. When work and ideas are dismissed or overlooked by leadership; and
3. Employees doubt that the work they do will ever actually see the light of day.
Think On This: What are the things in your position in which you find meaning and fulfillment? How do you create meaning for your staff—paid and volunteer? How do you help your staff feel ownership in your ministry?
The Catalyst Factor: These are the events that directly enable your progress at work such as clear goals and adequate resources. There are also things that can crush the catalyst factor—these are called Inhibitors; these are the things that make progress difficult to achieve. Examples of inhibitors would be unclear goals, micro-management, or a lack of resources to accomplish goals.
Think On This: What are the things in your position that are catalysts for progress? What are the inhibitors? How can you be a catalyst provider for your team rather than an inhibiting leader?
The Nourishment Factor: These are the things that support your inner work life such as respect and emotional support. While these may not be directly related to the job you do, they can determine whether or not you will be successful or make progress. If you don’t feel nourished, your happiness quota plummets. The opposite of nourishment is toxins—these are things such as feeling disrespect on the job or working in a hostile environment.
Think On This: What is nourishing you on the job right now? Are there any toxins that you need to get rid of? How do you demonstrate respect and support to your team?
Bottom Line—meaningful work will happen if human relationships are present. Even if you work in a room alone, if you feel that your work is contributing to something—to people—you can find fulfillment on the job. Going back to Arizona next week is special because I know that I was a part of something while I was there that was bigger than myself; I’ll see kids who were in my children’s ministry who now have kids of their own. Meeting those children will show me that good seeds were planted and continue to be fruitful—and my cup will runneth over.