Tag Archives: Vocation

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.

Four Terrible Ways to Fight Anxiety (and One That Works)

worry

A sumo wrestler was sitting on my chest and he wouldn’t get off. He was big and ugly. It was painful.

It had all started that morning while driving in to work. It was just a slight tightness at first… I was tense. Then it felt like my shirt had shrunk a few sizes. Then my chest and back felt tight, like I had been carrying weights and the weight vest kept shrinking. By the time I made it up the stairs to my office, I was sweating. When I reached my hand out to open the door, it felt like I would die if I just touched it. The sumo wrestler sat down.

So I gave up on going to work. I walked outside and walked around the block. I splashed cold water in my face and gave myself a pep talk. I walked back in to face the door one more time. Hello sumo.

This was anxiety. Do you know it?

Maybe not the sumo on your chest kind… but maybe the tightness in your shoulders kind, or the lay awake staring at the ceiling kind, or the slight twitch kind, or the snap at your spouse for no good reason kind, or the pretend you’re totally relaxed when you’re totally not kind.

I know each of these varietals of stress well. You see some people are a connoisseur of wine or a collector of furniture… I’m a connoisseur of fine anxieties. (What a terrible hobby) Like a fine wine, each anxiety has a nuance all its own… a unique bouquet to savor (endure). Some anxieties are more nagging, others more acute. Some are driven by family, others by work, still others by the future. Some bathe over you in waves covering your shoulders and back, while others just sit like a baseball sized stone in your gut.

I know anxiety well… and let me tell you: anxiety sucks.

I mean, at least other sins have the deception of being fun while you’re in them… anxiety is just awful from start to finish. There’s no joy in anxiety, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.

So with that in mind, here’s four terrible ways to fight anxiety (and one that actually works).

a. Eat

Eat food – Sweet food. Salty food. Crunchy stuff. Gummy stuff. Chocolate. I prefer taco bell, but we’ve talked about that before. Just eat your feelings. You can find comfort in food. Just take a bite and mmmm, then one more and ohhh.

I’m feeling a little better just thinking about food… aren’t you? Aren’t we all?

But the problem always is that you can’t eat or drink enough to fix it. So you eat, then eat some more. It’s not better, it’s just numb. A small distraction. You’re not fighting anxiety when you eat your feelings, you’re just temporarily pretending to ignore it.

b. Waste time (preferably on the internet)

If I’m Satan, I think that I absolutely LOVE IT when people try to deal with anxiety by wasting time. Television, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, that blog you love reading that’s sortof productive but not really productive right now and you’re totally not reading it to be productive right now. (Wait, are you doing that now?)

Distract yourself. Don’t do the thing you’re supposed to do. Don’t be alone with your thoughts to deal with your fears – that sounds horrible…definitely don’t do that. Look at Facebook a little longer. Like one more picture on Instagram. Favorite one last tweet. Oops. Now the day is over… now it’s so late… time to go to bed.

Your anxiety is never fooled. You can’t trick your anxiety by not thinking about it for 10 minutes. Your anxiety and the issues that cause it are patient. They will wait for you. They can wait all night if that’s what you prefer. “No,” your anxiety says, “I don’t mind if you check Twitter first, go right ahead. I’ll be waiting when you finish. Take as much time as you need.” (Apparently your anxiety has great manners and an open schedule.)

c. Work harder

This one is tricky because: what is a great way to solve your problems? Work on them.

Here’s the problem though. If you’re anxious about money and you work hard and earn more money: your anxiety will go away for a little bit. But then you’ll get used to what you have and you will want even more money. And the anxiety will come rolling back in.

If you are worried about popularity and then gain popularity, eventually you’ll become worried about something else socially related.

Anxiety is sortof like the book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” (or “If You Give A Dog A Donut” or dang Laura Numeroff, you really went with that “give an animal an object” thing, didn’t you?)Which is to say that feeding your anxiety will just make it hungrier. You might temporarily push back your anxiety, but if you didn’t deal with it’s root, anxiety will just come back bigger and stronger.

d. Pep talks

In college I used to look in the mirror sometimes and tell myself I was awesome. Not in a crazy way, just in a “hey, remember, you’re going to be ok” sort of way. It was positive self-talk. Then I read an article about power poses (here’s a similar one from the WSJ). So now I stand in my best wonder woman pose in the restroom at work while telling myself I’ve got a great bone structure. (Wait. What?)

I don’t actually do that, but the whole pep talk thing is sort of silly in the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for positive self-talk and even for posturing yourself to feel more confident… but if your fear is that you will never amount to anything, I’m not sure standing a little taller and using the words “I’m awesome” are going to help.

Pep talks miss the point because pep talks can’t solve your problem. Many anxieties are sourced externally – your job, the economy, your family – so how do empty, internal words help?

What works?

So what is the right way to fight anxiety? Maybe you won’t be surprised to hear that God has given us a very straightforward prescription for our anxiety – and best of all (at least for the Type A in me) it’s something we can do.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

When you are anxious, go before God with your anxieties with thanksgiving. If you do that, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. (aka – anxiety squelcher.)

That’s a stone cold promise to you. When you are anxious, if you will bring those requests before God with thanksgiving, the result is that you heart and mind will be guarded by the peace of God. I almost wish it was more complicated than that. But it isn’t.

So pray. Present your request to God. If you’re anything like me, you’ll always be surprised when your anxiety subsides… though you shouldn’t be. Because God made you a promise.

And he’s never not kept a promise.

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This post is pretty long already, but I’ve put together the practical steps I use every day to fight anxiety. I’ve sent it to subscribers of the blog and would love to send it to you as well. Subscribe below and I’ll send you the 4 step template I use to fight anxiety.


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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The Compass

Religion offers us a map. Take a right turn here, a left turn there. Fill this spot, check that box. Do this, not that. At the end of the road we are offered our prize. The problem though, is that destination we find ourselves at is never the one we wanted to get to.

The Gospel offers us a compass. Always pointing a singular direction, regardless the obstacles that might stand ahead. Rocks and boulders, forests or swamps… just go around… the compass will keep pointing to your destination.

Though the map feels safer, important work has always been done with a compass. Lewis and Clark didn’t have a map. Neither did Columbus.

Important work today and tomorrow will be done with a compass as well, rarely a map.

Today you will almost certainly have the opportunity to do something new, or act in some bold way: share the Gospel with a coworker, take initiative on a project, serve a customer or superior in an unexpected way that isn’t in your job description.

None of those opportunities will be on your map. By definition, they can’t be. All of those opportunities will be important – To you. To God. To the expansion of the Kingdom.

When in doubt, follow the compass. Forget the map. (It’s out of date anyways.)