Category Archives: Success

Better Moments

What is it that you want to be in your better moments?

In my better moments I want to be brave. I want to be calm. I want to have deep faith. I want to connect with people I love. I want to be humble. I want to be quiet.

In my worse moments I want security above all else. I want acclaim. I want success. In my worse moments I am fearful. Of everything. In my worse moments I am dishonest. I am impatient. I am uncaring. I’m a lot of other things too.

But this.

This.

Right now.

Is a better moment.

It’s a better moment because I’m not sure if this post will resonate with you or with anyone. But I’m going to post it… because I feel like I should. It’s a little scary, but in my better moments I am brave. In my better moments I do the things I feel like I should, even when I’m not sure others will fully understand. And maybe you know what it feels like to do something you feel like you should do, even if you don’t know why.

Sometimes that’s what a better moment feels like.

I tell you this because I know that from time to time you have better moments too. There is a moment when you want to be more generous, want to work a little harder, want to stay motivated when your boss asks you to work late. You have better moments too. Those moments when you see your best self. The self unblemished, the self untarnished, the self as it might be when sanctified.

You see yourself secured in Christ and the fear of the world falls away.

You see yourself as loved by Christ and the guy in the next cubicle becomes more lovable.

You feel the Spirit move in power and you believe you can do that one crazy thing you’re called to.

Your better moments.

What brings them out? What is the thing that encourages your better moments?

I had drinks this evening with another believer and we dreamed about what the future could hold. I was encouraged by community.

I spent time in the word this morning and was comforted by Romans 8:28. I was encouraged by the Scriptures.

I listened to the podcast of a man I respect on my drive home. I was encouraged by the redeemed story of a broken man.

I held my wife close when she walked in the door. I was encouraged by covenantal love.

What encourages you to have better moments? What are those things? Could you do more of those things today?

Maybe even just for a moment?

Dispositions and Positions

Have you ever thought about how many different types of work there are to do? It’s an absolutely bonkers amount? Completely bananas (thanks Gwen.)

People work in healthcare, law enforcement, government, private enterprise. Some work in intellectual pursuits, religious pursuits, economic pursuits, artistic pursuits. Others work in a wild array of entertainment, utility, convenience, or wonder. According to the U.S. BLS, there are only 840 official job classifications, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the almost infinite numbers of combinations and subtle differences between jobs in the same industry or class. The diversity of work is mind boggling.

And then you stop and think that God gave each man and woman a unique disposition and skillset to fit a specific role and task. Some are given knowledge, or strength, or patience, or judgement, or curiosity. He’s made some to enjoy travel and some to hate it. Some people are patient and can stay with a single task for long periods of time, while others seek continual novelty. The diversity of works is matched and exceeded by the diversity of dispositions and skills found in people everywhere.

It’s like the human body, in which every limb and organ has a place where it fits easily or a task it can complete naturally. Just like the human body, God in his wisdom has designed each of us for a role or task. It’s a role or task we’ll be well suited for. It’s a role or task that will best serve the community we find ourselves it. It’s in that task that we have the greatest capacity to bring glory to God.

That task and role isn’t a pipe dream. It’s a reality. Do you currently live in it?

A True Story

Here’s a short (true) story about faithfulness, the dignity of all work, and the freedom that comes at work when you trust God. I was encouraged by it and think you might be too.

“Jesus is Better” Edit: This link is now broken, so I have copied the text of the post below.

If you would like to share your story of faithfulness at work, or have seen other examples around the net, please drop me a line at taskandtoil@gmail.com.

It all started when I was 12 and my grandmothers started teaching me how to sew.

I loved the idea of getting to make my own clothes and loved coming up with crazy outfits for the celebrities I saw on television. My mom and I started attending the University of Texas fashion show every year and it became clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to study fashion design at the University of Texas. I wanted to have a collection walk down the runway. I wanted to be a famous fashion designer. So, I set down that path. My senior year rolled around and I designed my collection and saw it go down the runway. I even won Most Marketable Collection. But there was one difference that my 12 year old self did not foresee. I was married. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married and I love my husband more than anything, but I didn’t have the freedom to move to New York that I thought I would have when I graduated college. That last piece of the puzzle, becoming a famous fashion designer, was going to be a lot harder to achieve if I stayed in Austin.

Here I was, married, graduated, and on my own. I needed to get a job to help pay our bills, so I started working at Chico’s. This felt like a major blow to me. I was so embarrassed and so ashamed that this is what I was doing with my life. Ultimately, Chico’s wasn’t able to give me enough hours, so I got a full time job as a receptionist for a construction company.

Fashion to construction was definitely not what I envisioned for myself.

To make matters worse, the first question anyone asks when you meet them is, “What do you do?” Anytime anyone asked me that question I was so embarrassed. Not outwardly, but I was dying on the inside. About every six months or so, I usually spiraled into a breakdown about how much I hated my job, or about how unfulfilling it was, or how if I could just do something creative I would be happier. My husband started to notice the pattern and that I wasn’t actually making any changes. I just seemed to be putting a band aid over the top of my issues and not addressing them head on. As we started digging deeper, I began to discover how much I found my identity in people’s approval.

My desire for approval was so deep that I felt like I didn’t know who I was if people weren’t proud of the work I was doing or didn’t think I had a cool job.

This theme of having a “cool” job kept coming back over and over. I know that might seem a little silly, but I so desperately wanted people to look at me with approving eyes and say, “Man, Jill has such a cool job.”

With the help of husband and my community, I actually began to fight instead of just letting myself be the victim. God really began changing my heart and showing me that my identity as his daughter, the daughter of the Most High King, is so much greater than any identity this world can offer me. It is better than having a cool job. It is better than having all of the world’s approval. Philippians 3: 8 started to make more sense to me when it says “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus my Lord.”

Jesus is better.

He is better than the approval of those I admire most. He is better than a cool job. He is better than all the success I could ever achieve. All of those things are loss when compared to knowing Jesus. That shift in thinking was a huge step for me, but still something I had to fight to believe every day. I did begin seeing my way of thinking change. I started talking more positively about my job and was able to admit fairly confidently that I worked for a construction company. I started to appreciate the benefits that my office job gave me and realized how much I loved the people I worked with.

In January of 2014, I decided I wanted to start pursuing a career in styling. This desire came from a much healthier place than it would have previously. I saw my opportunities start to grow and was actually really thankful that I had a full time job that allowed me flexibility and stability while trying this out. In Feb 2015, the company where I worked filed for bankruptcy and shut its doors. I had no idea that was going to happen and it was quite a shock. It is kind of funny to me when I look at it.

The time when I appreciated my job the most is when it was taken away.

I can’t help but think that this is God’s way of saying “Okay, Jill, do you really trust me?”

He could have taken my job away when I wanted him to, he could have given me the stability of finances until I proved myself a successful stylist. But His timing is good and perfect.

I look back at the last four years and I wouldn’t trade the things God has taught me for a cooler job. He has grown me in ways I would have never been able to grow if he had given me what I wanted. This is proof to me that sometimes I might not see what God is doing in a moment, but that his plans are so much better than mine.

He is trustworthy.

He is better.

This post originally appeared here.

Work and Rest

Hey! You may notice a new voice. This post was written by Joe Work. (Which, can we all agree, is a good name for writing on this topic?) Joe is a UT graduate working in Technical Sales for Oracle. You can follow him on twitter at @JoeWork

Sometimes I’m astonished by the things that cultures were willing to lay down at the altars of their gods. They sacrificed their time and energy even their families to gods of empty promises. But then I remember how often I do the same thing.

We see work as an endless treadmill. We’re running and running and running to keep up with the pace, to stay plugged in and connected. Forty hours a week is a myth.

If we aren’t at work, we’re worrying about it. Sometimes, we simply like feeling busy.

Ultimately the issue is in our hearts. Work can become an idol. And sometimes, it’s the idol that we sacrifice to the most. We give up our time and energy, friends and family, to worship our jobs.

What do you find yourself laying down at the altar of your career?

Worshipping our work leads to restlessness. We begin to feel tired, no matter how much sleep we get or coffee we drink. The world tells us to produce more and work longer. It promises us satisfaction if we just work a few more late nights or refuse a couple vacation days. It promises us joy once we get there. But we never actually get there. That’s the nature of sin. Empty promises await for all of those who bow at the feet of their jobs. Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Continuous striving to attain a prize that you never actually reach. Building our sandcastles only to have the tide come in and wash them away.

We worship our jobs and starve our souls, seeking and searching, never ceasing, never resting.

But restlessness is not a characteristic of our God, nor of his followers.

He rested while creating the universe.

We can rest too.

Simple.

This is a simple idea.

Many times I complicate things to make them seem more legitimate. Do you do that too?

I’m afraid that a simple contribution will be too plain, too easy to overlook. Do you fear that too?

Simplicity can be scary, but unnecessary complexity is foolish. (I mean that in the biblical, super derogatory sense. (1))

Our lives and the things we do usually aren’t that complicated. That doesn’t mean they aren’t difficult or important.

What is something simple that you have made complex for the sake of self justification, perception, or appearance?

Be brave. Be simple.