Finding Joy in Thankless Work

Updated Jul 16, 2024
Finding Joy in Thankless Work

 This is the place where our gaze isn’t fixed on who didn’t notice all the work I do around here to the place of beholding His beauty.

For the third day this week, I’ve pulled underwear apart from pants and pulled a ton of clothes right side out while doing endless loads of laundry (I have four sons, need I say more?!). As a mom of six, wife, and ministry leader, much of the work I do happens in silence. It’s in the little, unseen, intangibles that I move stealthily like Marvel character “Sue,” aka Invisible Woman, working to keep the ship floating, the troops happy, and God’s people edified.

In the mundane moments of our daily routines, it's easy to feel overlooked and underappreciated. This can feel even more pervasive since we live in a world where success is often measured by tangible outcomes and esteem is often ascribed through rewards and recognition. But as God’s beloved daughters, we are called to a different standard. The truth of God’s Word tugs at our hearts while drawing our attention away from the need to be seen, approved, and validated by man, drawing us upward to the higher calling which is found only in Him. This is the place where our gaze isn’t fixed on who didn’t notice all the work I do around here to the place of beholding His beauty. And it is in that place where He gently reminds us, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

Work Heartily

What I find so striking is how the above verse reads in Greek. "Work heartily" translates from the words ergazomai psyche (do heartily). Ergazomai means: to work, labor, to do, or to work for. Psyche, which is translated as the word "heartily," means: breath, the breath of life, or the soul. Catch what God is instructing us to do here! He is compelling us to take everything within us, the entire essence of our being, and bring that to our work. He wants us to use our very breath and our very being in all we do and to work in this manner for Him and not for people. When I look at it this way, it’s actually quite liberating. It helps me take my expectations off of what I think I want or deserve and compels me to apply my whole self to serving God. 

Whether it’s reading to our children, ministering to a mama via a late-night text, or serving our husbands, we must put our whole hearts into what we do. It’s about saturating our tasks with passion, dedication, and a sense of purpose regardless of whether anyone says thank you. For herein lies the secret: Here is the place where our hearts are put on display and God inspects our hearts. Will He find that our hearts are working for the applause of people? Will He find our egos begging for attention? Or will He find His daughters, the ones who’ve presented themselves as a living sacrifice, working to bring God alone the glory?

Whether it's the countless hours spent nurturing our families or the weekly admin work involved in running a ministry, many of our daily efforts may go unnoticed. But it is right in that space where the joy resides. Because in God's economy, what is unseen is seen, the invisible is visible. Your work is always visible to the One for whom you are doing it, and that is the Lord. Our work done in serving others is a holy offering unto God. 

Offer Yourself

So how do we approach this work joyfully? Here are a few tips on how to transform mundane tasks into joyful acts of worship:

Set Your Intention: Purpose in your heart that you are working not for the attention of man but to glorify your Father in heaven.

Have Fun: Yes, you have to complete the tasks, but surely you can have fun while doing it. How can you incorporate more fun in getting the tasks done?

Be Thankful for Your Skillset: Give thanks that God has enabled you with a valuable skill set that is a blessing to others. Whether you’re great at administrative tasks or a pro in the kitchen, God has blessed you with a skillset that He seeks to use to bless others.

Remember Your Why: There is a reason why God has entrusted your family, your calling, and your work to you. When we match our why to God’s why (His will for our lives), we have a deeper sense of joy and a greater sense of purpose for our daily work.

For the days that are hard, as surely they will come, remember God is watching the whole story unfold. And not only is He watching, but He will send help. Many times in the Bible we see people cry out to God for help and He renders aid. He is our very present help (Psalm 46:1). And sometimes we need to ask the people in our circle for help, so speak up and tell others what support you need. 

Remember to Breathe

As I type this, I am looking at two cards on my desk. One is from the owner of a daycare where I recently served as the MC for her annual preschool graduation. The other is from my co-laborer in the ministry. Last week, I received both of these cards and they hit me differently. When I receive cards I’m normally very grateful, but these struck a deep chord within my soul. When I opened the cards and read the words it was as if Abba Himself had penned these cards. His love and His care for me rose so strongly from the cardstock that I was brought to tears. Through their words, He said, “I see you.” Through their words, He said, “I appreciate you.” Through their words, He said, “Thank you for loving My people.” 

So, the next time you feel overlooked, pause and take a deep breath. And in that pause allow the Holy Spirit to fill the space. As you exhale, give thanks that el-Roi, the God Who Sees, sees you. Breathe again. And remember what we learned earlier: one of the meanings for "heartily" in Greek is "breath". Give thanks that Shamma, the God Who Is There, is always there with you, even in the load of thankless work. In this manner, we find joy and contentment in knowing that our work is not in vain because our God who is gracious and merciful has blessed us with an abundance of grace for all this good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). Be assured that in the quiet, unseen moments, I am making a difference, you are making a difference, and we are making a difference—one heartfelt act at a time.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SolStock

Tyra Lane-Kingsland is a speaker, Women’s Ministry Director and author of the book Purposeful Parenting. She enjoys facilitating the classes she’s developed on parenting and Health & Wellness. It is her assertion that health is wealth and believes that optimal health is achieved through proper nourishment, rest and exercise. Tyra is an attentive wife and mother of six. Knowing that God causes all things to work together for good, she is on a passionate pursuit to see women inspired to live fully!