Reflections On Thriving: The Gift Of Work

By Pamela B. Lazarakis, Director, Professional and Career Development Program & James Higginbotham Legacy Fellows 

As a longtime career development professional, I am struck by God’s commitment to preparing people of faith for lives of work, service, ministry and contribution around the globe. Gordon’s mission—a timeless statement of this intentional preparation for contribution—is joined by the invitation to students to thrive in the fullest sense of that word. 

When I look through the lens of career development, thriving emerges from four areas: 

1. Following Christ. Being in right relationship with God and being a follower of Christ is our foundation upon which all of life and work is built. 

2. Understanding and cultivating your God-given gifts and talents to fulfill a unique life calling. Often this process of discovery is aided by a supportive faith community. Over my career, I’ve had the immense privilege of thinking broadly alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of students and alumni about the work that they were uniquely created to do, including how they contribute in their current season of work and how they prepare for the next. 

3. Viewing our human endeavor as creative, generative and good, mirroring the work of God at Creation. “Good” doesn’t always mean perfect; in fact, persisting through challenges while embracing opportunities is all part of wholeheartedly pursuing meaningful work. How we work, how we talk about work, how we live the rest of our lives—these are all threads in our story and they are opportunities.

4. Pursuing excellence. In all forms and types of roles— public and private, formal and informal—our work and service should exhibit competence and integrity. The results may become transformational and even redemptive in our lives and the lives of others. 

Thriving boils down to this: Follow Christ, cultivate your gifts, mirror God’s good work and pursue excellence. We catch a glimpse of it in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3: 

“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live . . . and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” 

Do good while you live, and find satisfaction in your work. In doing so you honor God and reflect his story in your own.