Tag Archives: Image Bearing

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.

A Spade is a Spade

Hey, can we make an agreement together? As a group, can we start to stop something? (A real sentence I just wrote.)

Let’s do this: when we have a goal ahead of us, let’s get rid of the phrase “I don’t know how to do that.” Whatever your goal is, I’m done buying this excuse.

  • Change jobs or start a new business venture
  • File papers in a way that honors God
  • Build a client base who love the way you provide services to them and are willing to tell others about how great you are
  • Tell your co-worker about Jesus

Too complicated? Too difficult? You don’t know how to do that? Really?

Do you know how to use Google? Do you know how to call a friend? (Heck, you could even email me.)

I’m not buying that you don’t know what you are doing, or can’t figure it out.

No. Not too complicated. Not too obscure. More truthfully, it’s probably just too scary, uncomfortable, or painful—these, by the way, are totally valid reasons to not do something, but they are wholly different than “I don’t know how.”

The problem with saying “I don’t know how to do it” when you actually mean “I’m too scared to do it” is that you will spend all your time trying to fix the wrong problem and will never get closer to achieving what you set out to do.

Here’s the rub: properly diagnosing your roadblock is the critical first step to overcoming it.

So let’s call it what it is. I’m guessing that your goal, while probably scary and uncomfortable, is probably very simple when you drill right down to it. So let’s admit that we’re scared, not stupid.

What is something you “don’t know how to do”, but are actually afraid of?

What about a duck?

People have told me I walk duck-footed. I don’t think that’s a compliment. It’s not a good look.

I mean… Have you ever seen a duck walk? It’s pretty goofy.

Have you ever seen a duck swim? It’s a little awkward. It’s certainly not the most efficient way to swim.

Have you ever seen a duck fly? Sure, they have that V thing down… and there were those Disney movies made after them… but let’s be honest, they aren’t the most majestic beings in flight.

Duck Jealousy

Should the dog or the fish or the sparrow be jealous of the duck? Alternatively: Should the sparrow work and work and work to swim like the fish? Should the dog try and try and try to fly like the sparrow? Should the fish jump on land in an effort to run like the dog?

No.

Right?

That’s silly.

… so why are you different?

What’s a skill you have that you discount in yourself? “Yeah, sure, I can do x… but that’s not important.”

What’s a skill you don’t have that you covet? “If only I could do y…”

A freeing truth in scripture is that you and I were each created for a purpose. My purpose is different than yours, yours different than mine. My skills are different than yours, just as yours are different than mine. But neither call or purpose or skill is worth more or less than the other. They are just different.

I wonder how your work would be different today if you were to embrace the strengths God gave you and stopped wishing for ones he didn’t. I wonder how your work would be different today if you stopped thinking about what you’re called to as a higher or lower calling than everyone else.

What if you started flying rather than wishing you could swim, or started running instead of wishing you could fly?

There’s no higher calling than the one you’re called to and it’s not helpful to wish there was.

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Christian Kamiwaza

You should strive to be like the gods. Or maybe not. (Wait, what?)

In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin writes about a Japanese term kamiwaza:

“Like most great words for which we have no equivalent, it is difficult to translate. The shortest version is “godlike.”

When we strip away self-doubt and artifice, when we embrace initiative and art, we are left with kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as the gods would run.”

That statement is so close to correct, it’s almost painful. Isn’t it?

Kamiwaza isn’t something we should strive for… I mean, Adam and Eve wanted kamiwaza, to be like God, to be godlike, and it didn’t turn out so well.

So, no. Not kamiwaza. But Christian kamiwaza. (I’m not super original.)

Christian kamiwaza.

Like most ideas rooted in scripture, it’s simple to understand but difficult to master. The shortest version might be “as created.”

When we strip away self-doubt, artifice, and doubts of our Creator, when we embrace what we were created for, we are left with Christian kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with Christian kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as God created him to run.

What would Christian kamiwaza look like in your work, art, home life, friendships? You would be fearless, decisive, adept, skillful. You would be intentional. You would be humble. You would be free from the unnecessary restrictions of others or self.

You would be whole.

You would be as created.