8 Life Lessons for Doing Meaningful Work Better
The principles highlighted in Jesus’s teaching called “The Beatitudes” are everywhere. Topics like the role of grace in human mercy, the relation of human emotions to our moral lives, and the deepest foundation of dialogue with the unseen world, the nature of prayer, come alive in this sermon of Jesus.
Even the saying, “patience is a virtue,” is believed to have originated from the poem “Piers Plowman,” written in 136O by English poet William Langland. The crux of all teachings at the heart of the Gospel is the doctrine of the image of God found in its content.
In this post, let’s see how, by applying practical Beatitude-reasoning, we can do our meaningful work better.
1. Be Poor in Spirit
When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he didn’t mean we should stop accepting a paycheck or turn away an opportunity for benefits or work rewards.
Being poor in spirit means relying completely upon God, not on ourselves, other people, or material possessions (including that paycheck). This dependence makes us humble and open to whatever God has planned for us.
What does being poor in spirit look like in our workplace?
Authentic humility – accepting praise for a good job but not being boastful or arrogant in individual victories.
Serving others and being in the midst of work with a presence of understanding.
Managing workplace conflict – or rumors of the same – peacefully and without vengeance.
Acknowledging your mistakes humbly and working to make amends.
2. Suffer as Christ Did
The second Beatitude, “Blessed are they who mourn,” isn’t specific to mourning death. It refers to suffering in a broader sense and calls us to bear suffering in a way that mirrors Christ. To what extent do we suffer, and how do we behave as we seek to “suffer well?” In practical ways:
It may mean offering our suffering to God and comforting those suffering.
It may mean silently offering up a manager’s “bad mood” day as a sacrifice for other souls, as long as it does not harm us.
It may mean comforting and helping a co-worker who’s been sick and struggling to get back into the swing of things.
3. Be Meek
This Beatitude addressing meekness – a combination of humility, patience, and kindness – can be difficult to manifest at work.
When a project isn’t going as well as we’d like, it might cause us to lash out – externally or internally. Being “passionate” about something personally could cause us to judge those who “don’t get it” in the same way we do.
As we work passionately, let’s do so in meekness. Be kind when disagreeing. Be patient when mistakes are made. And be humble when we express our viewpoints and opinions.
4. Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
Speaking of passion, this Beatitude is full of it. Remember what our mom or dad might have said when we said something wasn’t fair? “Well, life isn’t fair!” When we see injustice at work, that feeling may be defined as having a “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Let’s pursue justice at work. But rather than simply judging what is wrong with the injustice, let us consider taking action to build new systems, innovate, and work with others around us to find solutions.
We don’t have to work in a nonprofit or a government agency to seek justice. If we observe unfairness, let’s have the courage to say something and cultivate change.
5. Be Merciful
Now, the principle in this Beatitude is tricky. Mercy is often difficult to find and show in a world full of vengeance. Consider the words of Pope Francis: “Mercy is the keystone of the life of faith and a concrete way with which we give visibility to the resurrection of Jesus.”
We can’t be authentic in discipleship if we don’t show mercy. When we forgive our co-workers instead of holding grudges or retaliating, we demonstrate Christ’s intent in this Beatitude and His merciful love in action.
6. Keep a Clean Heart
Making a practice of this Beatitude is hard. All our actions in the workplace – as in all areas of our lives – should be motivated by pure intentions.
It’s fine to seek a promotion if it’s because the promotion will help us make better use of our gifts. But what if it’s motivated by our wanting to feel like we’re better than others on our team?
It’s fine to ask for a raise because we’ve worked hard and deserve it. But what if greed is behind our motivation?
Everything we do in our workplaces should ultimately help us seek the kingdom of God in the whole of who we are as authentic followers of Jesus.
7. Keep the Peace
To live out this Beatitude, we’ll need to overcome a culture where criteria of power or control inspire relationships of coexistence. Means become ends and vice versa, and culture and learning are centered on techniques and efficiencies alone. Amid the tension, anxiety, and conflict, let’s purpose it in our hearts to be agents of peace as we carry out our meaningful work.
So often, the lack of peace in the workplace is rooted in ego. Does this sound like the culture at your place of employment? This Beatitude points us in a different direction.
Introduce small changes by being an intentional example, even when not in charge.
Show that we value our co-workers more than we value the money they bring into the organization.
Show our individual intent on living a balanced life.
Show that we value our time with our family and friends more than that 51st hour in the office this week.
Treat people like children of God rather than a means to an end.
Inspire others by our example.
8. Persevere in the Face of Persecution
At the end of the day, living out the Beatitudes at work will come at a price. Practicing these eight platforms of intentional moral behavior daily is difficult. Yet, every day brings new complex interruptions and anxieties facing a world that is continuously rebroken and hurt yet again.
Let's live that Beatitude life anyway.