I was a little bugged by last week. I worked 64-ish hours between my two part-time jobs, which is about 25 hours more than normal. In a couple weeks, those paychecks are going to be fairly nice, so why was I bugged? At the end of it all, I earned a few extra dollars.
Just a few extra bucks that I can spend on groceries, gas, and whatever else I may need.
It’s a problem because it makes me feel that my purpose in this world is to earn money and spend it on things that will eventually fade away. Neither the money nor the things I buy with it will last. As I’ve written before, it’s stuff that I’ve been entrusted with and ought to be extra careful in how well or not well I manage. But that’s not to say my life’s meaning is wrapped up with my bank account and possessions.
College was an inspiring time because I felt like I was working toward a cause, toward something beyond money, jobs, careers, cars, houses, etc. In college I felt as though I was meant to achieve something. And yet now my life revolves around punching in and out at one job and then going to the next while sometimes reading and blogging in between. No doubt, I believe there is purpose and meaning in what I’m doing at both my jobs, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the U.S. dollar – or really any form of currency.
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” – Proverbs 22:1
During my junior year of college I had my sights set on law school. No, seriously. I bought books on the LSAT, writing law school admissions letters, and basics on logic. With as much as I like to argue, it seemed like the perfect fit. But more than that, it seemed as the something I was meant to accomplish. And then I got my scores back from the LSAT…
What I didn’t realize then – and what took me a long time afterward to discover – is that achieving something isn’t tied into a job title, a degree, or a stellar job. As Scripture points out all over, achieving something means developing a certain sort of character. And as this Proverb points out, it’s a character that is noticeable to others. It isn’t self-proclaimed; it’s talked about even when you aren’t there.
What then am I to do with my ridiculous amount of student loan debt and two part-time jobs? Keep going. I still have ambitions beyond landing any sort of job or attaining any sort of title – ambitions that lead me back to school at some point. But it’s like my friend said at work this morning (Monday morning), you don’t have to be in school to be doing something with your life. You can start now – before college, during college, after college, or even without ever going to college. Degrees, titles, salaries don’t equate to reputations.
My thinking at the end of last week was a little misguided. I was so focused on the 64 hours I had worked and the monetary value of them that I failed to see what I really have. No matter if you’re a doctor, a plumber, a professor, a janitor, a lawyer, a pizza cook, an author, or a lowly retail clerk, you have a platform to achieve something. It’s not the job you’re working, either; it’s you.
We’re the molding clay of Christ intended to reflect His character, His love, His kingdom. Allowing Him to do so by working out His commandments (i.e. sacrificing our “selves”) we’re enabling His character to become our character. And if we’re doing it right, we won’t care anyone notices or not. We’ll be glad we achieved the something He wanted us to.