As Christians, there is a personality trait that we are called to acquire on our weary road to humility. Perhaps it isn't something we see as a loss when we first become a Christian, because it comes with time. But pretty soon, when the day to day drudgery is threatening to make us give in and be mediocre in what we've been called to do, we will be faced with the question: Am I willing to be unappreciated? In all of my job experiences, this is the common factor. Regardless of what task I've been faced with in a new job, this is one task that is always there. I know that I must be willing to be unappreciated, yet still work to the best of my ability.
It is the way of this world to not give appreciation until it is earned. And so this willingness to be unappreciated as you do hard work is almost a prerequisite for being appreciated by men. It may seem strange, but many of the most appreciated and successful people in this world have something in common: they were willing to do their best, regardless of recognition or appreciation along the way. That means a lot of time is put into doing a good job that goes unnoticed most days. Sure there's the verse in Proverbs that says your kids will appreciate what you do for them, "Her children rise up and bless her." But notice that they first rise up and then bless her. That means there's a lot of growing up that happens before they even begin to appreciate the sweat and tears poured out for them. Where can we find the motivation to work hard when no one appreciates what we're doing? It's discouraging to not have hard work noticed. Perhaps that is why it is so noticeable when someone is found to be a hard worker, because it is so rare. Why don't we just give in and work like most of the world does, only doing good work when someone seems to be noticing?
We don't give in to this thinking, because, as Christians, we know there is a deeper truth:
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." -Colossians 3:23-24
These verses are telling us that our work IS being noticed, maybe not by men, but by the most important One, the Creator of our souls.
Sure, it's nice to have earthly appreciation from our bosses, spouses, children, etc. In our minds, if we are going to do a good job, it should be noticed. Being willing to be unappreciated is one of the hardest things to do in day to day life, because everyone knows hard work should be appreciated. But even if it's not, and the ones we think should be taking note right now aren't, we can still find motivation to work to the best of our ability. When we ultimately work for Someone's approval that is far greater than any other, we can afford to be unappreciated by the world. The One that loves us most deeply notices each effort we make to do a good job, and He is pleased with it.