I (David) just returned from two weeks at the Global Studies Intensive in Thailand and Myanmar. I’ll have lots of stories and reflections to share from that time, in addition to sharing from our year-end 2013 results. But for a while I’ve been wanting to write about a conversation I had with a college student a few months ago, and now seems like a good time.
This student is studying social entrepreneurship and hopes to change the world someday. (May that be true for all of us, whatever venue or vocation we’re in.) We were talking about his undergraduate coursework and some jobs and internships he’s had during his college years, and he said, “I’ve had to learn how to put my heart into something that I don’t really find valuable.”
Isn’t that a sad statement? And the even worse part is, my first thought was, “That’s good prep for corporate America!”
Setting aside the cynicism in my viewpoint — remember I did spend 20 years in corporate America, so I’ve seen an awful lot of people working at jobs that held no value for them — there is a deeper truth. We were made for so much more. One of the things we work hard to do at SEED is encourage livelihood groups to come up with their own ideas of what they want to do. If they do not have sufficient income right now, well, this might be the perfect time to think about their dream jobs and then start working toward doing those things.
However … there’s an old (and not necessarily very healthy) song that says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” There are multiple ways to interpret that line, but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s take it at face value and assume it is talking about our jobs.
It’s pretty rare for people to get their dream job as their first job. So that means you’ll likely have a few jobs before you figure out what you really want to do. In this space previously, I’ve talked about how to find that job. This time, I want to share a couple thoughts to encourage you to “love the one you’re with” while you’re waiting for your dream job, and I’ll do it using two Scripture verses we don’t usually think of in this context: Romans 8.28 and Jeremiah 29.11.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about these verses, and it has occurred to me that we only reference them when something really bad happens: job loss, diagnosed with a disease, accident, etc. But it strikes me that these should be faith-forward verses. If I know that God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, and that all things work together for my good, then I can boldly step into my life knowing that even if I get it wrong, or I get it right but do it wrong, God is big enough to work it all out. Luther was the one who said, “Sin boldly,” and while we shouldn’t take that as license to do whatever we want, I think it’s fair to say that if our heart is to please God, we have an awful lot of freedom to act.
So today, when you go to that dead-end job, or that job you only have because you desperately need the income or the benefits, recognize that God has something for you there. He doesn’t waste anything (though we often do), and He will use your current job experience, if not now then later. Believe me: I’ve worked for more than 60 companies in my career, and somehow every day I am using the skills I picked up form all those different jobs: human resources, computer programming, project management, training, technical writing, administration, retail …
So I encourage you today: enter in … love the one you’re with, and put your heart into it, not because it’s your dream job, but because the Lord of your dreams is there waiting to meet you.