Friday, June 08, 2007

Job versus Work III

As I mentioned previously, I’ve quit my job and started working again. Let me explain that a little more. I believe the need to work is innate. It is in our nature to accomplish, to bring order, to design, create and ultimately leave something behind long after we are gone. This is why I separate the idea of work from the current understanding of having a job. Very few of us are lucky enough to have a job that includes an opportunity to do this kind of work. I saw this dilemma all the time in college students, especially as they got nearer to graduation. They all asked the same question, “What am I going to do with my life?” My starting point was always to start by finding out about desire. What made you choose this major? What did you picture yourself doing or becoming? But the direction inevitably shifted when we would get past the subject of getting a job and get down to what is at the core of that person’s heart. “If money was no object, what would you do with your life?” I’ve asked this question so many times, it almost feels cliché’ The answers revealed the tension between our need for a job and the yearning to find real Work. The engineering majors were the easiest. They seemed to know more about what they wanted to do than the English, Psychology or the Art History majors. Engineers have a tangible element to their work. Mom and Dad don’t worry as much about Johnny the Bridge Builder as they do with Johnny as the Starving Artist. Its harder to pay the rent with the canvas than the blueprint. I was fortunate to find a job right out of college that was in my major field, Exercise Science. My position at the Central YMCA in Oklahoma City gave me a chance to put my learning into practice everyday. I got paid to play basketball and workout with members. It was an easy gig, except when people asked me in conversation what my day was like. If they showed too much jealously, I would retort with “I guess it sucks to be you.” But everyday, despite the ease of the job, there was the pull on me to do something more. The YMCA was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be back on campus, talking with students about matters of faith and such. This was my real work. So when the chance to throw myself into that work came along, I took it. I moved to California to attend seminary and work with university students. The inner tension subsided. My work and job were now one and the same. Fast forward to fifteen years later. Still working with university students, but the job and the work had drifted apart. What had changed? Why was I no longer passionate about my job? Or was it my work? The two did not feel the same as they once did. How could I get them to reunite? to be continued...

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