Our job is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. It’s an important relationship principle that makes celebrating Labor Day meaningful.

Hello everyone and welcome back to You Were Made for This. It’s so good to be back here behind the microphone with the start of Season Four. We begin with episode 68, just 2 days after Labor Day here in 2020

During my years in teaching and the business world, I interacted with lots of people who felt stuck in their jobs, where they found little satisfaction in their work

I also interacted with people who found too much meaning in their careers, where their identity and purpose in life were wrapped up in what they did for a living.

Neither extreme is healthy. There’s a better way to view our relationship with our jobs, careers, and the work we do. It’s the topic for today’s show.

This better way starts with this: The job we hold is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

A Poor Perspective on Our Work

We run into problems when we live as though the opposite were true, where we view our job as an end unto itself.

  • Other things suffer
  • Relationships suffer
  • How we spend our time suffers

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, drive, and wanting to get ahead in our careers, as long it serves a greater purpose than feeding our ego and identity.

Qualities of drive and ambition are often looked down upon in Christian circles. But when harnessed within a value system that pleases God they can become admirable virtues.

This raises the question then, if our jobs and careers are a means to an end, what is that “end” that goes beyond earning money to pay our bills?

A Proper Perspective on Our Work

Our job and the work we do is a tool God uses to conform us more and more into his image, so we can better reflect his character in our relationships with others.

Character qualities of God like grace, patience, forgiveness, mercy, and all the qualities found in 1 Corinthians 13. Read at many weddings, it should also be part of new-employee orientation.

What we do for a living is a training ground to hone our character to increasingly becoming the man or woman God created us to be.

Dead-end Jobs

Some of us may be in jobs we hate, where we find no meaning in them whatsoever. I’ve had a few of those, and thankfully, only for a short period of time. One thing that helps when we’re in a job like this is to look at that job as God’s assignment for us for that season of our life.

Jobs like this can further our relationship with God as we demonstrate obedience to the assignment he has given us in a boring, dead-end job. Even in jobs like this, God can use it to teach us all kinds of relationship lessons with others, and with ourselves.

Examples of “Our Job is a Means to an End, Not an End Unto Itself”

From my teaching career: Meeting the parents of an annoying student at a parent-teacher conference.

I learned patience, tolerance, kindness from this encounter.

From my business career: Hiring Bryan, and what his dad said to me the day I met him. “Thanks for hiring my son.”

I learned I had been entrusted with a relationship that was very important to others, besides myself. That I had a responsibility to care for that relationship. It wasn’t just about me and hiring someone to generate more sales and profit for my company.

If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode:

Our job is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. It’s an important relationship principle that makes celebrating Labor Day meaningful. The work we do is a tool God uses for a greater purpose in our lives than simply to earn a living.

What can you do in response to today’s show?

Take some time to reflect on how you view your job. Ask God to show you some things. Has your work become an end unto itself, where you derive your identity from it? Or are you using your job as a means to an end that is greater than the actual work you do?

Ask yourself how can I look at my relationships at work as part of God’s larger story for my life that goes beyond earning a living. How can I give people I work with a picture of who God is by demonstrating some of his character qualities.

Then ask God to give you the wisdom and strength to act upon what he has shown you.

As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to john@caringforothers.org.

By the way, did you know this podcast and our blog posts are sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry?  We depend upon the generosity of donors to pay our bills.  If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.

Related Resource

Episode 025, “The Toughest Job in America” The main point of this episode is How we relate to our job is often a reflection of how we relate to God. The episode contains several stories on how we view our jobs and careers.


I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Our Relationship Quote of the Week

The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career.                                                                                                                                ~ C.S. Lewis

That’s all for today. See you next week. Bye for now.