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Four ways to survive a thankless job

By: lisa camp

For nine years as a server, I often felt overlooked and unappreciated by the people I served, I worked with, and I worked for. I hear similar stories over and over, in different variations, and every time it reminds me how difficult it can be just to trust Jesus when you feel stuck in a thankless job. 

But as I learned waiting tables, finding joy and sharing Jesus’ love is possible in every situation, even in jobs where we feel unappreciated. God has equipped us to survive those thankless jobs, whether it’s a permanent, short-term, or part-time gig.

4 Ways To Survive A Thankless Job

1. Recognize that your co-workers and the people you serve are just that: people.

One reason we feel unappreciated might be because we are underappreciating the people we work with. Whether it be a customer, guest, client, co-worker, or boss, the person you’re interacting with at any given moment is also a person with a past, a sinful nature, and a need for Jesus. 

When you find yourself complaining about how you work so often and so hard without any thanks, ask yourself when the last time you thanked a co-worker, client, or boss. You will likely find that in the midst of your own sulking you forgot that the people around you need your encouragement and thanks just as much as you need theirs.

2. Work for the Lord, not for other people.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

When we expect praise and thanks from people for our work, we often forget that God is proud of us for working hard at the opportunity He gave us. It’s nice to be recognized for your work by those you work with, but not getting that recognition shouldn’t affect your work ethic. We work for the Lord, and ultimately He rewards us for our work.

3. Surround yourself with thankful people outside of work.

Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to spend time with other Christians so we can encourage one another. 

Community is important for every aspect of life, but I found it to be even more so when I was stuck in jobs that I hated. It takes a lot of energy to work hard, and it’s disconcerting to be overlooked or unnoticed for all that you do day in and day out. 

It was always the people outside of work—my friends, family, and small group—that reminded me that my job was not my life and that it shouldn’t affect how I see myself as a person. Find people who can encourage you to keep working hard for the Lord and who can give you the perspective you need to keep going. Your job does not define you. Jesus does.

4. Go to Jesus often.

It takes a lot of energy to keep working when it feels like no one notices or cares. It takes even more energy to fight to appreciate the people who don’t seem to appreciate you and to keep working for a reward you may not see in this lifetime. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says when we go to Him with our burdens, He will give us rest.    

Go to Jesus daily — and more, as needed — so He can remind you that He sees what you do, He cares about you and your health, He is proud of you, and He loves you no matter what work you do. 

No matter what the job is, your work matters. So thank you for all that you do.

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