What to Expect in your First Year at Work

Tired, new people, the work...

Everyone will have different experiences but here are some common things graduates face in their first year. Firstly, feeling tired for about a month and finding it harder to balance activities outside of work.Second, adjusting to the people both those who are friendly and difficult people, learning how to work with older people including interacting socially with another generation, and understanding the office hierarchy. Third, adjusting to the work itself - learning new skills and later in the year perhaps questioning the satisfaction from it. Fourth, money - now that you have some, you can finally get the things you've always wanted right.

My first tip on how to thrive is to know that "work is worthwhile." In the Babylonian creation account, the Enuma Elish, humans were created to do the hard work so the gods could rest, as such work was viewed negatively. Similarly some Greco-Romans viewed the physical world as bad hence manual labor was for slaves. Today westerns tend to find their identity in work. If you are unemployed you are considered unsuccessful, if you are a doctor people see you as more valuable than if you were a cleaner. The eastern view point traditionally saw work as fulfilling the family role and brining honour by serving society. Atheism has no objective meaning or purpose in life, so ultimately it does not matters what to do. But what is the Biblical perspective on work?

Christians understand that God is himself a worker, he created a good world (Gen 1:31; 2:2) and God made humans in his image to work and care for creation (Gen 2:15). So work in itself is a good thing, a opportunity to worship God and show creativity through it. But we now live in a fallen world, and work has been cursed (Gen 3:17). However, in Christ work is fulfilled and redeemed (Psa 8; Eph 1:20-23; 1 Cor 15:25-28; Heb 2:5-9). We enter into his rest and work so that others might enter that rest also. Christians look forward to when God will make all things new and work as well will be restored as how God intended (Rom 8:19-23; Rev 21-22; Matt 25:21).

We can also expect to find evangelism at work a new challenge. Some ideas include mentioning that you went to church on the weekend and see if they have any thoughts on that. Over time try to build friendships with your colleagues, including doing things outside of work and see what opportunities arise from getting to know them more. Occasionally there will be evangelistic events that you can prayerfully invite a colleague to. If you follow current events be that the news or movies etc. you can use that as a bridge to talk about deeper issues.

My second piece of advice on how to flourish at work is to "stay centred on God." Consider the prophet Isaiah, he was called to a difficult task, being told that people would hardly listen to him, so what sustained him? Having a vision of who God is - He is high and exalted, He is holy. He is worthy of our devotion and he empowers us to the task before us.

So how can you practically put God first in your life? One good way is to have a regular quiet time of reading your bible and prayer. Even if it’s just one chapter a day, working your way through the Bible book by book. If you are finding you don't have time to pray, remember how are you going to get anything done if you don't first seek God's guidance and enablement - so you are in fact too busy not to pray (Mark 1:35).

My final point is to "use your resources for God" - your energy, your time, your finances, etc. We are called to be diligent workers (Pro 6:6-11; 2 Thess 3:10), so use your strength for God. At the same time remembering to rest in Him. As Marva Dawn says "In our culture, which attaches such a grand importance to work and productivity, our weekly ceasing reminds us that the value of work lies not in itself, nor in the worth it gives us, but in the worship of God that takes place in it."

Use your time for God. You need to strike a work / life balance. It would probably be reasonable to focus more a work a bit as you adjust but don't neglect other things. Have you considered your church involvement, how can you serve on Sunday (not just Monday through Friday). Do you have an accountability partner, someone who you can openly share with, your struggles and who will keep you in check? How are your relationships outside of work coming along (i.e. family and friends). Are you honouring your parents who once supported you? Are you looking after yourself - things like exercise is not only good for your health, but will actually help you be more productive in your work for the long run.

If I can humbly ask how are you using your finances for him? "You must remember the LORD your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth" (Deut 8:18 NET). Christians are not to love the things of the world, but rather be content and seek first God's kingdom, knowing that he watches over our needs (1 Tim 6:6-11; 1 John 2:15; Mt 6:33). If you haven't already found an accountant to help with your taxes that is something to consider. You should probably think what you'd do if your colleagues are going to the casino. Or have you considered your level of lifestyle, have you made a budget (record your spending, list your income and bills, etc. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/how-to-do-a-budget ).

Hopefully some of these ideas will be useful in helping you have the right perspective on work, the right strength for work and to give your best to the work God has given you for not only your first year, but for years to come.

Some suggested resources
• Danielle Sallade, Human Flourishing http://www.christoncampuscci.org/human-flourishing/
• Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work. New York: NY: Riverhead Books, 2012. 285 pages.
• First Day on the Job: What to Expect by Justine Hwang https://powertochange.com/students/careers/firstday/
• What to Expect on your first Day http://www.skillsroad.com.au/job-seekers/success-on-the-job/what-to-expect-on-your-first-day