Know your toll.

Everything comes with a price. This includes jobs in the marketplace. By knowing the role of the job and the goal of both the job and one's personal targets, employees can know when its time to commit and stay steady, time to invest and learn more or time to seek and take advantage of opportunities elsewhere. When the price has been clearly defined -- whether its time, money, character or growth -- employees can know how, when and why to pay the toll. Entry level jobs provide much needed cash and work experience but often involve routine tasks. The toll might be boredom. Self-employment offers challenges, creativity and flexibility but the toll comes in grueling hours, multiple roles, and having to learn more about the particular business. Given the variety of situations in the marketplace, only the individual employee can decide when the price has been met.

Knowing the role, the goal and the toll those can take balances the stress of work life and personal life. Stress has been described as the point when our reality does not meet our expectations. Marketplace stress has been studied in depth and discussed at length. As Christians, we have an opportunity to display peace and contentment in the marketplace as others strive and stress out.

So, what is the heart of the matter? When employees -- especially young, entry level employees -- have clearly defined expectations about how the marketplace reflects the God-given process, they can work with Godly contentment knowing that their role is ultimately to bless the marketplace. To bless means to enable or to equip.

God enables and equips us today with jobs just as he blessed Adam with a job while still in the Garden. God set a process into motion of sowing, reaping and harvesting with the intention of blessing Adam. So it is today. When we sow blessings into the marketplace, we can expect to reap blessings from that same marketplace through God's tender provision.

Our contentment comes not from having a dream job or a terrific boss or even getting away without having a job at all but it comes directly from our relationship with God as Provider. We cannot look to the marketplace for our success or for our contentment. Rather, we must understand the role of the marketplace in God's process. Galatians 6 says to "make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life...Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith."

Originally posted July 20, 2007

For this article, Sandra Gilmore draws from her twenty-year career in employee relations and job performance coaching. She and her husband, Tom, share their best role and favorite God-given job assignment: coaching their two teenage daughters via home school.