There’s a difference between your job and your work. Yeah, yeah, I know, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” But most of us don’t get to do that. The next best thing is realizing that your job is not the only work you do. Being enslaved by your job condemns you to an unhappy life of drudgery.
I have a friend whose life rides the roller coaster of his job. He’s up when his job is up, he’s down when it isn’t. That’s a scary ride. Don’t be that guy!
Most of the work we do is outside of our “job,” so maybe you pay more attention to the other work that you do. But first, lets’ talk about your job…
The Work That Is Your Job
My first paying job was for a disabled widow named Vera. I was 12 years-old and had inherited the job from my brother before me. Every Saturday, depending on the season, I mowed her lawn, weeded her garden, hauled her wood and moved her furniture. Three hours every Saturday, and at the end of it she handed me $10.
After my Mom made me put half in the bank, it was still enough for a model car kit, a couple of McDonald’s visits or a Beatles’ album.
My first summer job in high school was as a bus boy at a small private school that hosted conferences. I think I broke $100 each week spiriting dishes to the kitchen and flirting with waitresses (fringe benefit). Those three summers allowed me to purchase a Stan Smith tennis racket and later upgrade to the Arthur Ashe, then later to the Jimmy Connors. I seem to remember most of the rest paid for gas.
I grew to love Vera, and had a serious crush on Louanne, a blond-haired waitress, but not the work I did. It was a means to an end and I never took the end for granted. All paid work, whether it’s work you love or work you hate, is a means to an end.
Don’t take the end for granted.
The Work You Live For
This changes over time but the work doesn’t. It’s tedious, repetitive and unspectacular. It’s your life.
Cleaning the house
Mowing the lawn
Washing the dishes
Weeding the garden
Watching the grandkids
_____ ing the ______
You fill in the blank. Life happens and it can be hard work for which you are paid in hugs, “Thank-you’s” and a sense of accomplishment. You can’t take these to the bank, but if you look carefully, they involve the most important people in your life and you can’t put a price on that.
When I was a younger and more foolish pastor, I made a first-time visit to a woman in my new church. Greeting her at the door, we had a brief conversation, part of which was my question, “So, do you work or stay home with the kids?”
Her face darkened and she explained to me that she had four children, one disabled, and thank you very much, she had plenty of work to do AT HOME. I have never made the same mistake again, disrespecting the real work of life.
Now, older and wiser, with three wonderful grandchildren under the age of 4, my life’s work leaves me exhausted at times, but I am paid in full.
The Work You Love
There’s a reason why it’s called the Golden Rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s second to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind,” but it’s first among our work pursuits, because it’s an expression of self-love.
If that sounds arrogant, it’s not. It just means that we set the standard for loving others by the way we love ourselves.
Much of what passes for “self-improvement” is really the selfish pursuit of someone’s idea of success: a great body, a lucrative business, true love. What if you worked hard at improving yourself – body, mind and spirit – for the glory of God and the benefit of others?
The Bible says that, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” That changes everything! The work that you do to improve the person you are is improving others at the same time.
In short, love yourself, love others and love God. It’s all work and it’s bigger than your job.