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Business Advice From a Former Pastor

How to be Happy, Authentic, and Live a Life of Integrity at Work.

photo credit: Keith Homeister (left)
Marten Bjork (right)
photo credit: Keith Homeister (left) Marten Bjork (right)

I spent 9 years working as a pastor. I’ve celebrated new life, married people, buried people, and helped them through the transitional periods in between. I now work as a business consultant, but I learned some lessons in the church that we need to bring into the professional and business world. I believe we are created to live life to the fullest while staying true to who we are on the inside. With that in mind, here are four lessons I learned as a pastor that will help you live a more fulfilling life both personally, and at work.

Do What Makes You Happy, but Really Work at it

I’ll be honest, I think striving for constant happiness is overrated. You aren’t going to be happy all the time, and if that is your only goal in life you will be disappointed. Instead of happiness you should strive for joy. Joy is being able to feel content even in moments of unhappiness. I do, however, think you should pursue a career or job that has the potential to make you happy. I say potential because every job has its downsides, and you won’t find one that is a constant, 24/7 happy-trip. When you strive after a job that has the potential to make you happy and make joy your ultimate goal, you will experience more happiness than unhappiness if you put the work into it. In the book Master of One, Jordan Raynor talks about how happiness and satisfaction comes through mastery of a skill, and mastery takes work. It’s the reason I only play classic video games. I was stuck on this cave level of Skyrim for 3 days, but I can clear Megaman 3 in like 4 hours, and I find a deep childish satisfaction in that. When you master a skill you will find joy in the process of doing it, but when you strive after instant happiness you will become frustrated at the first road block.

Don’t Compromise Your Integrity

People generally don’t start out thinking “I’m going to lie, cheat, and steal to succeed.” People generally have good intentions when starting something new, so it’s rarely the case for someone to be suddenly faced with a large moral dilemma. Instead, it starts as small concessions of your integrity that start to erode your sense of right and wrong. After a while those big moral issues don’t seem so big and you start making decisions that past versions of yourself would be shocked about. It’s essential in life and in business to protect your integrity even in the small things so that when you are confronted with bigger issues you have the peace of mind to stand by the convictions that you started with and choose the path that is right for your true authentic self.

Take a Day Off

Taking a day off is hard because we don’t want to come across as lazy, and we don’t want to give someone else a leg up to get past us in our professional lives. But here’s the thing, this way of thinking is not sustainable. You will burn out faster and harder if you don’t give yourself at least one day a week to recover. You need to recharge and take care of yourself, if you don’t you will crash fast and hard. Put everything on pause for a day, binge a Netflix show and spend some time with your friends and family simply existing. You’d be surprised how little things fall apart when you do, and when you come back you will have a better mind and more energy to do the things you need to.

Treat People Like People and Meet Them Where They are at

We are all just a bunch of flawed, broken, meat sacks, and that’s okay. People are rarely going to be where we want them to be in terms of our expectations, and the sooner we can accept them where they are at the happier we will all be. Whether you are dealing with a co-worker, supervisor, or a customer, you need to have grace for that person and whatever is going on in their lives and the experiences that have brought them here. Just as you need people to show you grace when you aren’t meeting those same expectations. My only caveat is that you don’t need to stand for abusive or manipulative behavior. Stand up for yourself, but do it with gentleness and respect by treating the person you are interacting with as a person and not a faceless monster. When you do that you command respect and you put yourself in a position of power in the conversation because you aren’t playing into their mind games. Be firm, calm, and don’t let them take up too much of your mental real estate.

If you can manage to do these things you will find yourself in a much happier place because you will be cultivating a lifestyle of joy rather than seeking after instant gratification. Good luck!

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