I graduated from college with a degree in computer science during the time the dotcom boom was still alive.
I thank God for the numerous job offers I had, and the ease with which I found my current place of work. The company was located relatively close to a church, and allowed me to keep in touch with friends and church believers.
It was exciting to know that I was finally done with college and that someone would actually be paying me to apply my skills and intelligence (as opposed to the many hours I worked in college, and I had to pay the school!).
It was all fine and dandy until the first day of work. That was when I realized that I was nervous about the new position and meeting up with my boss to decide on my role in their tight-knit team.
I think that the experiences I had during my first year of work are common for many newcomers to the workplace. I wanted to fit in with my coworkers, work to fulfill my boss’ expectations, and use all the knowledge I had acquired in college to contribute significantly to the success of the company.
Doing all these things may be a little daunting, and perhaps reading about my first year at work will help take the edge off of working at your first full-time job. It all really comes down to doing your best, and entrusting the rest to God.
DILIGENCE PAID OFF
Even though I graduated from a top-notch university, during the first couple of months of my employment I found myself constantly worried about what my coworkers and my boss thought of the quality of my work. Was I working fast enough? Do they think I am stupid? Are they disappointed in my knowledge-base, and are now regretting hiring me?
Unfortunately for me, my company was small, and there was no regular schedule for performance reviews, so I was constantly insecure about the quality of the work I did. I just worked as hard as I could, and went the extra mile to make sure that the things I worked on were done right, and done on time.
Each morning, when I said grace for my breakfast, I would also sneak in a request to ask for God’s guidance for the day. I’d ask that I would stay focused and be productive, so that I would be able to do my work well.
The diligence and morning prayers paid off: I got a glowing performance review from my manager and my director. Later on, they entrusted me with more important projects that challenged me and helped me learn more about my line of work.
This brings to mind Paul’s encouragement to the believers in the Colossian church who were servants:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Col 3.23-24)
Diligence always pays off, whether you are diligent for God, or for your boss. Even if people may not acknowledge your work right away, eventually your consistency will be known to all and outright undeniable. It takes a lot of patience, but it is well worth the effort.
DON’T BE A BASHFUL CHRISTIAN
Don’t be afraid to let your coworkers and boss to know you are Christian. In most cases, people are tolerant of your religious beliefs, and may even embrace the same set of religious values as you.
When I was in college, I managed to find a summer internship, but I was determined to miss two weeks of work to attend the National Youth Theological Seminar. The weeks before the seminar were very tense for me, because I didn’t know if my boss would be happy with my going, since internships last only ten to twelve weeks, and missing two weeks would not be a trivial matter.
A couple of weeks before the seminar, I spoke with my boss, and told him that I would be going to a theological seminar, and to my surprise, he was more than willing to let me attend.
He said something along the lines of “Youth these days just don’t do things like that anymore.” And believed that young people should spend more time in character development and searching their souls.
This convinced me that I don’t need to be bashful of my beliefs; if we consistently demonstrate that we are trustworthy and diligent, people will generally be very accommodating towards your religious beliefs.
PRAY WHILE YOU WORK
Prayer is important in the workplace and it works. I used to think, why would God care about secular matters like this project I am stumped on at work? It has nothing to do with my salvation, or His cosmic plan for the world.
However, this is where we can see God’s great love for us: He truly cares for us, even when we fret over matters that concern only us, and not the cosmos. Jesus said our Father looks after the sparrows and numbers our hairs; of course He will help us with our difficulties at work, as long as we rely on Him.
Once I was working on the tail-end of a project. If what I was working on did not go through, we could not complete and sign off the project. Unfortunately, the work required that I be attentive to it at odd hours.
Each iteration would take about eighteen to twenty-four hours to complete, which would mean I would be working on an experiment at 5:00 a.m., and then looking at it again at 10:00 p.m. at night.
This also took place during the month where we had a spiritual convocation at church. Between driving to church (which was about a forty-minute drive) and working very odd hours, I was worn out and desperate, because very little progress was being made.
In my desperation, I realized that I neglected to factor God in the picture. I didn’t think that God would care about this project, since it’s not a big deal to Him, even though it is a big deal to me.
Because of this attitude, I didn’t pray to God and ask for His help, so as a result, I didn’t get any help. After I realized this, I asked a few brothers and sisters to pray for my project at work, and I also prayed earnestly for this.
Somehow, all the problems were solved one by one, and the project successfully completed. My coworkers attribute it to the long hours I spent on it; I consider it a miracle from God.
From that experience onwards, I learned to entrust everything to God, even issues from work. After all, God is over all, and everything—even our work at the office—is under His control. If He wants something to happen, it will happen.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
In vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep. (Ps 127:1, 2)
When we work, we have to remember our Big Boss, the one who is the builder of all things, even computer programs and whatever you have to work on. We should try our best to spend time with Him, and to know Him better, so that we are better aware of what pleases Him and what does not.
His participation in our life at work is very important. If God didn’t look out for us, our efforts will be in vain.
Being a little apprehensive about our first full-time job is a perfectly normal and natural reaction to such a large shift in lifestyle, but through relying on God and persistent diligence, everything will fall nicely into place.
Even though diligence does not guarantee instant success, consistently working and finishing projects on time inevitably gets noticed and rewarded (whether by our Father in heaven, or our boss on earth).
God will see our efforts and will help us if we are willing to rely on Him. We should remember to pray to Him whenever we need help; little prayers made throughout the day are not overlooked by our loving Father. He sees His children struggling, and He won’t leave them to struggle alone.
Finally, let us be encouraged with the following verse: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13).
And, as I have learned during my first year at work, that includes dealing with that stubborn project at work. If God watches over the sparrows, He will watch over us, too.