I’ve never really impressed anyone with my places of employment.
In fact, there was only one time where I can remember somebody being “blown away” by what my job (at the time) was. It was the end of a 1 week construction project. A few hundred high school students from different parts of the country had paid money to come and spend a week working on people’s homes who couldn’t afford it in Knoxville, TN. There were several big projects that were worked on by all volunteers (mostly teens) during the day and in the evening time there was a church service at the place where all of these volunteers slept/ate.
I was the person who spoke at these worship services. About 25 minutes every evening. With general themes provided by the organization in which I had to figure out how to make interesting enough so that these tired and hard working and ADHD students benefited from my words.
On the last night of the project after the last worship service and the last time I would stand in front of a large group of people and teach out of the bible for a while, one of the youth pastors came up to me. He was enormously large. He fit the idea of “fat and happy” so well. We had talked a few short times in the week and more importantly, I had seen how much fun he had being around the students he was responsible for. We’ll call him Al.
Al: “Hey man, I just wanted to say this week has been great for my students. Everything about the week has been great. It is obvious that you haven’t gone to seminary…(uh oh)…and I just want to tell you that you probably shouldn’t! Keep teaching with the sincerity the way you teach and don’t let anything change that. Are you planning on going to seminary?”
Al: “Oh. Do you work as a youth pastor back home?”
Al: “What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a server at a bar and grill.”
Al: (smile on his face) “Like a waiter?!”
Me: “Just like it.”
Al: (bigger smile…clapping his hands a couple times as he said) “Oh my God!!! That is awesome!!!”
Me: “You just broke the 3rd commandment…”
I assume Al had some negative experiences related to seminary. I didn’t ask. And that isn’t what this post is about. I’ve never been and I don’t pretend that makes me more “sincere/honest/etc.” than someone who has. I just remember that conversation so clearly because he is the only person who seemed so outrageously impressed that I was a server. I still am not quite sure why.
Today I started my new job here. Once again I am a server at a bar and grill. This time I don’t work at an extremely corporate place, so it is quite a bit more relaxed than my previous serving job.
Also today, I met up with a guy named Joseph. He is responsible for the high school small groups at the church we attend. I checked a box saying I would be interested with working with students and also leading a small group. He called me and asked to meet up at Starbucks.
Joseph wanted to know about me. Rightly so, before I would be allowed to fill out an application to spend time and influence teenagers. He started out by asking what I was “doing for work”. I told him that in a few hours I would start my first day at my new job. He was familiar with the place and said, “that’s great that you found a job.”
Then we sat down with our cool coffee like drinks and Joseph said, “I want to get to know you better. You can start wherever you’d like in your life story, but tell me about your high school experience and how you ended up at our church wanting to volunteer your time with our students.”
Joseph and I then had about an hour and a half of great conversation about my life and about his and how we both ended up where we were in that moment today at Starbucks. It was like my current occupation as a server and his current job as an employee of a church didn’t define us in any way. We got to share our own stories (that included employers) on who we were as people. What made us tick. What made us laugh.
It was a great encouragement/reminder to me that the way that I earn money is not what defines me. Just as when I previously worked at a church, it didn’t define me. Just as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t completely define that person.
I work at a restaurant. I am good at what I do. I don’t make a lot of money doing it.
At the end of my life, my wife is not going to remember how good of a server I was. She isn’t going to focus on how well I could sing. She isn’t going to mostly miss my writings.
If she outlives me, she will miss me being a husband to her. And that will have very little to do with my job.
So, I will try to remind myself that my job really isn’t the most important thing. No matter how great/boring/stressful/$$$$/religious it is…it is my job. It doesn’t define my marriage (hopefully). It doesn’t define me as a dad (hopefully). It doesn’t define me as a person…unless I allow it to.
1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do (wait tables, answer phones, lead worship, be a husband/wife, be a father/mother, own your own company, lawyer, police officer, speech therapist, financial analyst, artist, blogger, fitness instructor, collector, dog walker, reader, cooker, spend a weekend “away”, engineer, musician, go to the grocery store, eat out at a restaurant, surf the internet, etc.), do it all for the glory of God.”
God seems really interested in what really makes me tick, as well as things that I simply have to do during my day. I’ll keep that in mind as I go back to work tomorrow. And as I do things that I consider more important than work.