I’m a people person, very personable. I absolutely insist on enjoying life. Not so task-oriented. Not a work horse. If you’re looking for a Clydesdale I’m probably not your man. Like I don’t live to work, it’s more the other way around. I work to live. – Dupree
I am 35 years old and mid way through my working life. Since today is Labor Day I think I might do a little reflecting on what I have done, what I am doing, and what I will do for the next few decades until Social Security frees me. It seems to me that taking a good long honest look at oneself is an important thing to do from time to time in order to make sure the destination you had in mind in the beginning is still an option. In other words, is my labor still doing for me what I hoped it would do when I began working and am I still headed towards the finish line that I imagined for myself.
OK. If I am going to be honest, I am actually about to celebrate birthday number 42, but I am about half way through my working life. That part is true and I am not sure if I am relieved or disappointed about that. As for my progress as a laborer I guess I am either half way home or only half out of the gate. Either way I have about 25 or so years left to work in the mine.
Recently, I heard that people beginning their career today should expect 9 career changes over their working life. That is right – 9! Since my entire working life has been in the same career field (Christian ministry) that is a little hard for me to imagine, but I guess it is possible. Some of my friends have moved from education to sales to business and back to education although not necessarily in that order. That doesn’t count the multiple jobs in each of those career paths. If I am somewhere between relieved and disappointed I can only imagine what I might be thinking if I had tried a half dozen or so different occupations.
Life is tough and work it seems is even tougher. That is probably why there seems to be a transient nature to how people approach work today. Perhaps constant career changes is a coping mechanism for being overworked, underpaid, not recognized, and left feeling useless by the time you can apply for your company watch (which no longer exists as a retirement gift.) So while it may be helpful on Labor Day to remember that you are blessed to have a job (94 % of working age Americans are – http://www.bls.gov), it might be more cathartic to take a deep breath and think about your working life.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you there yet? Are you happy? Did you make the right choice? How could you have chosen better? What can you do to make your work better for your life and family? What working regrets do you need to forget? What would you be happiest doing for the rest of your working life? What are you waiting on?
We usually do have more questions than answers. Such is life, but questions aren’t our enemy. They are the markers that help us get back on track to something better and often better for us. Maybe on Labor Day 2014 we could all start thinking about work and our working life in a new way. If so, we stand to gain so much by getting a clearer picture of why we do what we do. Maybe that picture/vision will be powerful enough to transform our daily struggle into many moments seeking the most significant outcomes from the investment of our blood, sweat, and tears. Since we spend about 90,000 hours of our life working (45y x 250d x 8h), that work should be about both quality and quantity; both identity and investment; both happiness and wholeness.
So this is what I am thinking about the rest of my working life. ——————
I want to work in ways/places where the purpose is obvious to me and to others.
I want to work in ways/places where my gifts and abilities are a good fit.
I want to work in ways/places where I can begin to pour into others the way others have poured into me (or should have.)
I want to work in ways/places where titles are less important than teams.
I want to work in ways/places where “doing business as usual” is not the daily mantra.
I want to work in ways/places where young ambition can be shaped into a missional force.
I want to work in ways/places where I can make one difference, each day, every week, for the rest of my employment.
I want to work in ways/places where I can feel good about the way I give my body, spirit, mind in exchange for cash, health insurance, retirement contributions and professional development.
I want to work in ways/places where I am sure God is pleased with what I did with what He has given me.
That is all. Am I asking too much? Are my expectations too high? Did I leave any out?
How is work working for you? I would hate to think that we work hard all of our life at something we don’t enjoy, with people we didn’t like, and for a purpose that didn’t make a difference to anyone. It doesn’t have to be that way for any of us. Let’s not exchange our years for a paycheck. Let’s not surrender the best of ourselves for something we don’t believe in. Let’s give our life to God and others so we may live in the joy of fulfilling our creation purpose.
Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3