You’ve probably had days where all of your hard work and all of your creativity did nothing to make your work feel worthwhile. I’ve been there.
You can work hard. You can create brilliant things. But if you aren’t bringing your love to your work, you’ll eventually find yourself wondering why you’re working at all.
Early Christian writer Paul understood this (albeit in a different sort of job):
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
“Love” in this sense is not a “passion” which some force has given to you. It’s a passion for doing something. If I’m bringing love to my work, I’m doing it to generate new life for myself and others. I’m doing something which will make things come alive around me – whether that’s by building computers or fixing plumbing or preparing fried chicken.
There is no stronger or lasting motivator than this kind of love. There are of days when I work myself silly for ego, or for the approval of others, or for duty, or for comfort, or to avoid pain. All of these motivations fail in the end, because all of them are bounded by things which fade away quickly. Your boss’s approval or disapproval won’t always be there to whip you on. Your desire for social status won’t keep you working when no one else is watching.
Love remains when all the other reasons to create new work fade away. It connects all things. And if you’re going after your work with the right spirit, love connects your work to all the things you experience in life.
Paul had some other good things to say about this kind of love – specifically, what exactly it looks like in practice:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
If I’m bringing love to my work, two things are happening:
- I’m doing my work in the way of love – not a way that’s envious, boastful, petty, or vengeful (all too easy in a competitive environment).
- My work is creating a world with more of the fruits of love – truth, kindness, goodness, beauty.
Maybe you’ve been here. If you have, then you know that this is how work is meant to be. It’s not meant to be a scramble for the bottom, or a fight for survival. It’s meant to be an expression of life and mind that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
My marketing work will be forgotten one day. My content will cease to generate new leads. My company’s brand will be forgotten. My excellent search engine rankings will be destroyed due to some search algorithm change.
But the love I (and my coworkers) put into the work will never fail.
Hundreds of thousands of people may experience a new technology, which may open them to new possibilities, which may open them to new ways of being better, freer humans. Of course, it’s up to them what they do with what our company has created. But in their actions, the love we have brought to our work is generating new life. It is creating new possibilities far beyond itself and far beyond what we can see right now.
And that’s an encouraging thought.