Thursday, September 18, 2008

Work in the Spirit, Part 1

I'll probably get back to Irresistible Revolution for one or two more posts, but I want to start talking about Miroslav Volf's Work in the Spirit (so I'm only one book behind what I'm reading, ha).

I like my job. For the past year, I've been a Research Associate for our state's General Assembly. I research questions for people and write letters explaining the research. Like any job, it has its bad days, but I'm doing something that I enjoy and I'm getting paid for it. There's the added bonus that I adore the people I work with, who are not just smart, but are some of the absolute nicest people I've ever met who go out of their ways to help everyone else out. I can't say enough good things about this place or the work I do.

My life hasn't always been that way. Up until August of last year, I was a bank teller. In itself, it wasn't a bad job. I was there for eight years, and the first three were pretty good. Then we had a few situations with other employees that made the work environment go downhill. Add to that long-term employees who hate their jobs and are bitter towards the company they work for, plus customers who don't like the policy changes, and you have a job that's not fun in any sense of the word. Oh, and let's add co-workers who would just as soon kick you in the teeth as look at you, and you have a pretty good idea of what my job at the bank was like.

After I graduated from UIS in 2006, I spent a year looking for a job, but there wasn't much to do in Springfield with the degree I had, and I really didn't want to settle for any old job. I wanted one that I would enjoy.

This brings me to the reason behind this post. I have been telling people for years that no one should have to settle for just any job. We are all gifted and talented in certain areas, and "called" to do something. When you spend 40 hours (or more) a week at a place, you should enjoy being there. It won't be fun every single day, but it should be something that you enjoy doing and can do well, using the gifts and talents that you have. Why, then, do so many people settle for jobs they don't enjoy, or worse yet, hate?

This is what I liked so much about Work in the Spirit - it validated what I've been saying.

...Since the whole life of a Christian is by definition a life in the Spirit, work cannot be an exception, whether that work is ecclesiastical or secular (viii).

According to Volf, work shouldn't be a place where you turn off your spiritual gifts. In fact, one should use their gifts at work whether or not they work in the church. And here's another gem:

One should not define charisma so narrowly as to include in the term only ecclesiastical activities (111).

A few posts back, I listed the more commonly known gifts. Generally, when Christians take a spiritual gifts inventory, these gifts are listed. Sometimes there are a few more than that, defined by Scripture and added according to what the author thinks should be included. The last inventory I took had the gift of writing on there, which was one of my top three gifts. I'm not sure I'd define writing as a gift so much as a talent, but it becomes important for me personally because either way, I'm using a gift or a talent to earn money. I'm using a skill I've acquired and practiced over the years (if you go to the very beginning of the blog, you can see how my creative writing skills were honed over my last semester as an undergrad) to earn a living. I hope to continue to do so throughout my life. And I don't work in the church.

Do I think I'll be at this job forever? Probably not. I think God has put me here right now to learn. I'm learning here, I'm learning a ton in school, and I think God is preparing me for what will come next. But it's enough that He's put me here right now and I can still use the gifts He's given me.

Do you enjoy what you do each day? If you could do any job in the world, would it be the one you're doing now? If the answer is an emphatic no, then start looking for another job. I know that's not easy right now, but you are worth the trouble of finding somewhere else to work. If you're miserable in your job, you don't have to be. If all that's standing in the way of you getting a job you enjoy is a college degree, then go get one. If it's money, ask yourself if the money you're making is worth the stress you feel each day you stay at a place you hate. Think of what you could give up to have a more enjoyable working environment. Having cable tv, a cell phone, internet service, a larger house, etc., aren't worth the stress of a bad job.

1 comment:

castana said...


I enjoy what you have written.It pretty much is similar to how I feel about things.Until very recently I was prepared to use my time and self non productively and without love. It didn't feel right but it's hard to find a path at times.But......" there is no path ,paths are made by walking" Debatable as a good friend of mine would say! but it's somehwere to start.The book sounds interesting-I'll have a look at that.

I'm so glad you found the way to what you have now.