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Six Ways People Find Meaning in Work

American essayist, historian, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote: "It is not enough to be industrious. So are the ants." The British science magazine New Scientist recently put out an issue on the psychology and future of work. One of the articles, "I Work Therefore I Am," cited Brent Rosso, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management at Montana State University. He penned six unique attributes that help people find meaning in their jobs. Rosso mined hundreds of academic surveys to come up with the list. He believes almost any job can have at least one of the attributes. (Note: attributes copied verbatim because of their brevity)

Going to work makes you feel you are accessing your "true self"—maybe that you are following a calling or can be yourself.

You are able to make significant decisions and feel as if you "make a difference." This taps into our desire to believe that we have free will.

Your job makes you feel valuable; you are able to see milestones of achievement, no matter how small.

You see your work as moving you closer to a strongly held goal. The downside is that you are more likely to sacrifice pay and personal time too.

It's not what you do, it's who you do it with. You belong to a special group of colleagues, even if your job seems mundane or poorly rewarded.

Your job is about sacrifice for a greater cause. Your meaning comes from following this, or perhaps a truly inspirational boss.

Possible Preaching Angles: This would make a fascinating illustration for a sermon on faith and work. It poses the following questions: What drives or motivates you as a worker? What should drive you as a follower of Christ?

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