When It Feels Like Your Work Doesn’t Matter

The day after I return from a conference on integrating work and faith…I call off.
It’s true, I have an early morning appointment; and it’s true, one of my boys has to see the orthodontist that afternoon. Squeezing in a few hours of work around those engagements would take some major gymnastics. But the truth is—I just don’t want to. I just can’t face it.
After three days of listening to how this thing should be done—hearing example after example of people who are doing big things for the Kingdom through their work—I am feeling claustrophobic of my little office, uncertain about where I am.
One of the speakers at this conference—addressing a standing-room-only crowd of mostly college students…and me…and, well, Sam was there too—urged her listeners to not just settle for any old job. Seek jobs that offer the best opportunities for directing your creative talents toward the end of advancing foretastes of the Kingdom of God, she said. Any accountant can do taxes, she said. As Christians we should be joining in Kingdom work through our chosen professions.
I felt the truth in her words and as I looked around at all those fresh faces, I believed that they could change the world. They could go out there and fight for justice and mercy and create beauty for the world and invest endless amounts of energy into making the world a better place. I felt excitement for these young people.
But it felt too late for me.
So I call and say that I can’t come in and those hours that I could squeeze in a bit of work? I spend them curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket with Lucy Mae. I am home for the day but I don’t even do one load of laundry.
But what I do do is a lot of talking to God.
I pick up an old conversation-prayer that’s been beat to death about my family of origin and how I’ve gotten such a late start on this Christianity thing and when will I ever catch up and why in the world didn’t someone show up to tell me all these things when I was younger and making important life decisions and now I’m stuck and the decisions I make affect more than just me and I can’t just go off to Uganda or something…
We’ve been through all this before and the Maker of the Heavens must get tired of having this same old talk with a pip-squeak like me, but do you want to know what was impressed upon me in those sweet hours with the fuzzy blanket? Here are a few things that were whispered to my heart:
  1. You are exactly where I want you to be. But don’t stop asking. You never know when that might change. And when you ask, you are opening your heart to the Spirit…and I am always making things new. 
  2. Your work matters. You carry my image into the lives of the people you touch and when you do that with all your heart, you bring me glory.
  3. Sometimes, it’s about planting seeds. Have you planted any lately? I—only I—will make them grow.
  4. Don’t get too comfortable. Keep stretching. Keep growing. Be the best person you can be. 
  5. Stick close to me. You are never alone. And pray for those world-changers.
The next day that I work I do my job with all my heart. Some people notice. Some don’t.
But there is One-who-looks-upon-the-heart who always sees.

Comments

  1. says

    Trust me, my friend, even having been early to the game, I still second guess some of those old decisions and get that decisions today are not just mine. Following his direction in family is complex, wondering why he doesn’t just have us all on the same page at the same time…

    So here I am in this place I never expected to be, and trying to sort out much of the same. Thanks for this peek into yours, Laura. Those 5 things are good for me to ponder too.

  2. says

    Well, I wasn’t there, so probably I am missing a lot of it. Or all of it. But I wonder if there’s some danger in the speaker’s message: what if the first job a young person is meant to have is at McDonald’s? We learn no matter where we work; Jesus goes with us after we’re saved; and not because we’re dragging Him, either. Right? I love the way you prayed it out and sought it out, and I love the conclusions at which you arrived, with God’s help.

  3. says

    P.S. One of those who has affected my walk most, thus far, didn’t really live into his faith until the last decade of his life. People who hadn’t been close to him during that last 10 years purely didn’t know him anymore and stood utterly confused by the things we saw in him and spoke of him. But because he’d lived hard in the world for many decades, he could speak into lives that strong, life-long Christians couldn’t possibly. Lost people trusted him. Addicts trusted him. Adulterers trusted him. Because he knew what the hound dog he was talking about! Based upon his memorial service I would say he impacted more people in those 10 years than many Christians do in a lifetime. It doesn’t matter when we let God have us; it matters that we let him have us. At that point, there is no end to what Christ can do through us (all things) because He strengthens us. Anything else is a lie from the pit of hell. And I know I’m speaking strongly. I also know with every ounce of my being: I mean every word, and I’m right.

  4. says

    I LOVED this and that you captured the list of responses that came. Excellent!

    You have not come late….but I know what you mean in saying it.

    I know what it is like to wait for the one big single ultimate assignment, completely missing that all the steps are the assignment…..not that you are, but I have.

    Your heart is in the right place, longing to be smack in the middle of His will. Trust Him to have you there.

    Marilyn

  5. says

    Your reflections are honest. Too many of us feel like we are in just the wrong job. And I disagree with that speaker who says ‘dont just settle for any job. find jobs that honor God.” That plants the seed of doubt in every person’s mind! The way you resolve is perfect. Stay where you are at, but always be open, always be looking for God’s leading. God wants you right where you are … for now.

  6. says

    I so appreciate everyone’s thoughts here…I just want to make sure I don’t misrepresent the speaker. She repeatedly and very graciously acknowledged that only an individual knows where God is calling him/her. Her message was geared towards college students because that’s who this conference is geared to. But she was very bold to urge us–as Christians– to think about our work in Kingdom terms. I tend to agree with her–it’s just that this might look different for me–and others–than the message implied.

    It’s all good.

  7. says

    Oh I’m so glad this post ended where it did. As I started to read it God instantly gave me a picture of you, right where you are and how He loves through you. And trust me….there is no such thing as starting too late with God. He has done an amazingly huge change up in our lives…we in our 50’s. Any moment we could be on the brink of something new. But some days I have great confidence that smiling at one person was enough. But I’m thankful that an urge for something more still stirs in me…keeps me on my toes in keeping my heart tender to Him.

  8. says

    Laura, thank you for sharing some private moments and such an encouragement that God speaks to us right where we are.
    I’m almost 60 and feel like I’m just figuring things out. J U S T.
    I always am encouraged when I think about Moses and Abraham and Sarah….God uses all of us who are yielded to him.
    I look forward to what’s next.

  9. says

    I so feel your pain here. I feel spread out too thin like not enough butter on a slice of bread…to quote an old favorite. I feel ready to pass the baton to another generation, forgetting that they still need the guidance and wisdom of this one…and all of this at the ripe old age of 44.

    Another part of me feels like I’m on the edge of doing something perfectly designed for my personality. Raising a family, home schooling, that was all about my children, and all about raising them in His Kingdom. But now? Now what? I don’t know..sometimes I’m despondent, depressed and filled with dread at the prospect of the future. Other times, I am excited, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what my Savior has in store for me.

    Oh, I feel this with you dear friend.

  10. says

    And so I’ll go and get that laundry that’s been waiting for me. And I’ll thank God for his watching eyes and for the full conversation we’ve had together this day. Few others will notice; fewer will even care. But God notices, because I’ve talked with him today. The whispers of home are strong, and my heart lingers at the shore.

    God and Jesus and the Spirit, they are what matter to me. They are the fullness in my mundane. Without them, there is no hope. With them, hope comes to life.

    Beautiful, God-filled thoughts from your pen and heart, Laura. What you write here matters. It stirs me toward the deeper things of God.

    peace~elaine

  11. says

    Who’s to say what’s big for the Kingdom in the eyes of God? I’m glad you heard the Lord speak to your heart. Daily faithfulness, loving Him, loving our neighbor – it’s all summed up in that. Most times the way we live our daily lives is more of a witness than we realize in such a fickle world. I don’t think it matters if it’s a big thing or a small thing. It matters that we do the thing.

  12. says

    #2: Yes, and amen! It matters. Incarnating Christ to other matters deeply.

    I had a conversation about this talk, with a college student after the conference. He, too, was wrestling with the idea of choosing jobs vs. settling for jobs. We talked about those decisions being process. Sometimes taking a job is a means of participating in God’s ongoing work of preserving His creation. Certainly, providing for one’s family is an important part of that work!

    I like when you share your conversations with God. Don’t ever stop asking!

  13. says

    I pick up an old conversation-“prayer that’s been beat todeath about my family of origin and how I’ve gotten such a late start on thisChristianity thing and when will I ever catch up and why in the world didn’tsomeone show up to tell me all these things when I was younger and makingimportant life decisions and now I’m stuck and the decisions I make affect morethan just me and I can’t just go off to Uganda or something…”

    I have felt the same way at times.

  14. says

    I needed this today. I’ve been having this pity party about how it’s probably too late for me for some things. But they’ll still happen if they’re meant to be. I need to stop beating myself up over choices I made that He allowed.

  15. says

    Wow I know how you feel. I have those times under the fuzzy blanket talking to God…sometimes for days. He is such a wonderfully kind God. I’m always amazed by his love

  16. says

    So glad you took the time to talk to God and ask those questions and I love what He told you…all excellent & true…I have similar-themed talks with Him,too…love to you, Laura 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. says

    Some days we feel like crawling back under the covers and pulling them over our head and just staying there – – – then He speaks to us and reassures us that we are special, not like anyone else, and needed for our “world” where we are.

  18. says

    Laura, I am so there with you and I found Christ early in life, when I was desperate for someone to parent me and He was all I had. Found out He was enough, still is. But I struggle with self-doubt and my place in the world and wonder if what I do matters to anyone but me.

  19. says

    Laura, when I read #5 “Stick close to me. You are never alone,” I misread it at first and thought it said,m “Stick close to me. You are never done.”

    Both are true. I am never done, and I am never alone. It reminds me of what I’ve been memorizing with Titus, the part in Genesis about Jacob’s ladder dream. At the end God says, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” That, paired with the Hebrews verse that He will never leave me nor forsake me. So…if He’ll never leave me, AND if He will be with me *until* He has done what He promised…it means I’ll never be done! (Mixed emotions…)

    I’ve been seriously doubting my fruitfulness and usefulness the past few months. Thanks for this. Thanks very much.

  20. says

    Although I didn’t hear the speaker’s message, I’m troubled by the implicit message that certain kinds of work are less valuable. True, most accountants likely can do taxes, but a faithful follower of Jesus who also is an accountant will likely do so in ways that are just, honest, equitable, and beneficial to others. The point may have been that webmasters, visual artists, musicians, etc. may have a greater “reach,” but sometimes they also have far less one-to-one contact with real people than do accountants, social workers, engineers, store clerks, daycare providers, etc. All work can be transformative and for the benefit of God’s Kingdom.

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