Tag Archives: vocation

Ordinary Work

It’s Labor Day.  Break out the cooler, splash some mud, kick back.  Summer slid by in a sticky blur — are you ready for fall?  Today we celebrate the end of vacation, gear up for another year of vocation.  We are back to work — ordinary, beautiful, work.

Today we play, tomorrow we ply our trades.  Remember when you dreamed of what you would be when you grew up?  And now you’re there — astronaut, detective, author, lawyer, president, ditch digger, teacher, missionary to the gypsies.  (That was my childhood list.  I’m two for seven.  You?)  Chances are you’ve never been to the moon or slept in the White House.  But do you still dream?

What will I be when I wake up?

A baker, frosting cupcakes for a friend; a singer, blasting the radio in my car; a nurse, patching up skinned knees with Band-aids and love; a counselor, asking good questions over coffee; a taxi driver, shuttling someone to the airport.

Ordinary work for a lifetime of ordinary, extraordinary days.

In our work, we create, we design, and we reflect our designer, creator God.  Every day stretches before us with untold opportunities to try new things or do old things in new ways.  Every day we can choose imagination over stagnation.  So often we don’t; we settle for stuck when we could soar.  We are like waddling geese when we could flap those wings a little and take flight.

In our work, we serve, reflecting the humble, sacrificial service of Christ.  Ordinary work becomes an avenue for extraordinary love.  We don’t give because we like parting with stuff, or serve because we have excessive time and energy.  We give because someone once gave to us — heaped up, pressed down, running over.  We are the re-gifters.

In our work, we shine, bringing light into forgotten corners of culture.  Into tense boardrooms, we bring peace, into stressed offices, we bring unexpected laughter.  With excellence we may make one perfect product, then another, then another, each a chip of mirror reflecting in its tiny way something far more valuable.

What will you be when you wake up?

I hope that we will be ordinary.  Each of us an ordinary, beautiful piece of the mosaic that would be missing something essential without our little part.

Happy Labor Day!

“And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work.”  –Numbers 28:25

Photo via Visual Hunt

All in a Day’s Work

Vocation:  calling, life’s work, mission, purpose, craft, career.  Deeper than a job, what “occupies” us, what we clock in and out for, vocation is something welling up and spilling out.  Vocation is what you daydream about when you’re a kid or pursue in your free time with passion.  And sometimes it’s at odds with gainful employment.  Bummer.

I find myself in the precarious predicament of choosing what is expedient and financially viable or pursuing instead my vocation.  Summer is coming, and I have a choice:  accept a lucrative, short-term, even meaningful job (Door #1), or throw myself with gusto into writing, foregoing any immediate financial gain (Door #2).  Kind of a bird-in-the-hand versus imaginary-bush scenario.  Am I brave enough?

Heard a coach in college once say,

“Nothing great can ever be accomplished by those who are only casually involved.”

So true.  But he didn’t mention that the cost of that passionate involvement is usually real and deep and immediate while the pay-off is far off and uncertain.  That’s why they call it your life’s work, folks.  It takes a lifetime.  Ask my husband, the church planter.  It’s slow, this soul work.  It’s exhausting, and often disappointing.  But to settle for a day job — tedium, frustration, the sense that the boat has cast off from the pier and left you stranded — well, that carries its own cost.

What were you made for?  What makes you sing?  What would you give to come home tired and happy and satisfied day after day?  You can do any job with excellence and good humor and shine there.  But you are the only one who can do your particular life’s work.fontcandy-3

Maybe it will never pay you a dime.  Maybe you have to put food on the table through a 9-to-5 and it’s only in the pre-dawn hours that you paint the Mona Lisa in your garage.  Or maybe it’s risky, taking a leap when you’re not quite sure of that soft landing.

My book’s coming out in September.  There’s just the one summer before that happens.  This is it, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make the most of it.  Come to think of it, this is it — the one life we all get, thirty thousand days and then we’re out.  How will I spend my days?

I gotta say, this is one of the reasons I love Jesus so much.  Not the miserly, pinched God our culture expects to see, instead he offers abundance, joy, freedom, and purpose.  While there is always a cost — a steep cost, to be sure — there is also promise.  Give up monotony and futility in exchange for challenge, hope, beauty, long-lasting significance, rest and the occasional water-walking miracle.  Not bad for a day’s work.  Not bad for a lifetime of days.