I can’t remember a TON about my childhood, but one thing I do remember is spending a lot of my time “playing” work. I would beg my grandma to slip me a few extra deposit and withdrawal slips at the bank so I could use them in my “bank” at home. I would copy my picture books, word for word, because I wanted to be a writer. I’d go around my kitchen, explaining all of the advantages of such-and-such cabinet or color of wood or appliance choice, because, yes, I was wanted to be a kitchen salesperson. (I can’t make this stuff up).
Work has always been tightly intertwined with my identity.
Even before the Fall, there was work. Because of this, I believe that work at its finest is meant to be something wonderful, and not something mundane and life-zapping.
Some of us have incredibly boring, draining jobs. Others of us are pleasantly surprised when we get a paycheck each month (” I can’t believe they pay me for this!”). Most of us fall somewhere in between. I think this matters to the formation of our souls.
For some, there aren’t a lot of options. They work a job that pays the bills and they are so thankful (so thankful!!) that their family is able to survive month after month. They might hate their job, but are at least thankful they have one. To this group of people I say that their gratitude is shaping their souls in a tremendous way, but I’m also sorry that they have to do something they hate, day after day after day. It shapes the soul.
Many of us have some sort of choice as to how we’re going to spend most of our time Monday-Friday. I’ve been surprised by how many people I talk to who strongly dislike their jobs. For some, they think their jobs are unethical. Perhaps they aren’t engaged in the unethical decisions directly, but they know the type of work they do does not encourage the flourishing of people. At best, they think it provides no greater good to the world. At worst, they think it’s a career path or organization that is built upon taking advantage of others’ fear or greed. This shapes our souls too.
I sometimes struggle with being a stay at home mom. Ironically, in all of my ‘playing work’ as a child, I don’t remember ever pretending to be a SAHM. Despite this, I truly believe that given the situation of our family, the close-in-age-range of our kids, along with our kids personalities, Jake or I being at home with them throughout these little years has been the best for them. It has contributed to their flourishing, and probably ours too. I think sometimes we can not fully enjoy a job, while still being at a place we need to be. That also shapes our souls.
What we do matters. It shapes us- our minds, our hearts, our perceptions.
When we look at our work through a Kingdom of God lens, it often shows us things we didn’t see before. It reminds us of the good we’re doing, even if our culture doesn’t value it. It encourages us to quit our jobs. It gives us vision to stay in our jobs. It challenges us to be movers and shakers, even if it means we lose our jobs. It demands that we speak up for the poor, the marginalized- no matter what job or career we’re in.
It means loving and hoping and sharing. Our lives are all about the Kingdom of God, after all.