Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Christian Personal Finance. Used with permission.

80% of Americans feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their work, according to researcher and best-selling author Marcus Buckingham. Are you one of them?

In a 2009 address at the Global Leadership Summit, the former Gallup researcher and author of Now, Discover Your Strengths and Standout, said that the number of unfulfilled workers had been on the increase – up from 70% the year before.

From my work as a pastor and life coach, I could have easily guessed that a large percentage of Americans felt that they worked in meaningless jobs that didn’t match their purpose and calling in life.

But eight out of ten people? How sad, especially since the scriptures tell us that God wants us to find enjoyment in our work.  In fact, it was King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, who observed . . . .

“That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:13 NIV

If King Solomon was correct in saying that God intends for each person to find pleasure and meaning in his or her work, but only 20% of Americans actually do the work they love, what gives?

Is God playing some kind of cruel trick on the 80% who hate their work? Is he punishing them for something?  Or are they just missing something somewhere?”

One day, after thinking and praying about how finding enjoyment and pleasure in our work could be considered a gift from God, I had an “A-ha” moment as I focused on the nature of the word “gift.”

I asked myself . . . .

“What if God does give each of us meaningful and pleasurable work as a gift . . . but few people ever take the time to look for the gift or receive it?”

I mean, someone may give me a gift and place it under the Christmas tree, right? But that gift isn’t really mine until I look under the tree, find the gift, pick it up, shake it, open it, and eventually use it.

That’s just the way it is, I believe, with our work, when we see it as a gift from God.

He gives each of us a mission or calling in life, but He doesn’t always make it so plain and easy for us to see, does He?

We don’t typically hear a declaration from heaven saying, “Rich Avery, your mission on earth, should you choose to accept it, is to . . . .”

But life would surely be simpler if we did hear that voice, right?

Instead, God most often seems to wrap up our calling like a gift and places it deep inside of us. Then it is up to us to unwrap the gift and discover it for ourselves.

How to Discover Your Calling in Life

How do you find – and most importantly, live out – your calling in life?

1. Take a good look at your unique God-given skills and abilities, personal values (the things that matter most to you), passions, experiences from the past, and dreams for the future. 

2. Bring all of that information together through a process that helps you uncover or clarify your calling and create a plan to fulfill your calling by finding and doing the work you were made for.

Finding meaningful work really requires introspection.  It isn’t about doing the job that pays the most, or the career that we think will be the hottest over the next 5-10 years. It isn’t necessarily about doing the work we went to school for or the career our parents wanted for us. It’s about finding and doing the work God uniquely created us to do.

One of the favorite resources Bible-based resources I’ve used to help people find the work they were meant to do is 48 Days to the Work You Love, a book and workshop created by Dan Miller, a long-time friend of Dave Ramsey.

In 48 Days, Miller lays out a clear pathway to help people identify their calling, discover their skills and abilities, clarify their personal values, understand their passions, evaluate their experiences, focus their dreams, and create a plan to find and do the work they’ll love.

Is Your Job a Gift?

So, let me ask you . . . .

  • Is your job a gift – or does it sometimes feel more like a curse?
  • Do you find satisfaction and fulfillment in your life and work?
  • Are you at peace with who you are and what you do for a living?
  • Do  you feel God’s smile upon the work you do?
  • Do you feel that you’re using your skills and abilities to your full potential?
  • Do you have a plan to help you turn your dreams into reality?

If you answered no to any of these questions, today is your opportunity to do something about it!

Please don’t waste another minute working a job that isn’t fulfilling you or making the difference in the world that God uniquely designed you to make.

Life is too short!  And the world needs what you have to offer!

Here are three things you can do right now to find the work you were made for:

1. Find a life coach (or a financial coach) who can guide you through a process to help you find and do the work you’ll love.

2. Attend a 48 Days to the Work You Love workshop in your area.

3. Buy the 48 Days to the Work You Love book and work through this process on your own.

Do you love your work? If not, what’s holding you back?

Christian Personal Finance is a resource dedicated to building God's Kingdom and helping others through money.

Rich Avery is the site host of Money Wise Pastor, a site dedicated to helping Christians (and particularly pastors, missionaries and other ministry leaders) to be financially faithful and financially free.

Publication date: October 2, 2012