What kind of work would I consider “worthwhile”? This question actually turned out to be quite difficult. I decided to list what I think is worthwhile in work from most to least importance. This question was taken from material in my Internship class.
I personally think Accomplishment is the most important component of a job. I believe that a job that allows you to feel that sense of accomplishment keeps you motivated to take on the next challenge. This made me to realize that I can never be an archivist. A single collection can takes years to finish and there are constantly more coming in, creating an eternal to-do list that would drive the life out of me. Since High School I have been working on several projects planting native trees and shrubs in a pasture in Kansas. The massive cottonwood trees that once lined the creek bed have nearly died out, leaving the area devoid of any beauty (unless you can consider a fat cow beautiful). It takes years of work before the trees are self-sufficient. I have tasted the bitterness of setbacks; grasshoppers, deer, drought, but I have been motivated by all the little victories along the way.
Ever since I was a kid I have been drawn to things that allow me to be creative. I started with Legos and Lincoln Logs and later took a liking to drawing and writing. I believe a job that stifles creativity puts a roadblock in the employee’s brain. A sense of value is replaced with emptiness as we perform robotic tasks in a robotic way. I love work that allows me to put my signature on it, so to speak. When we lose the opportunity to be creative at work we tend to start glancing at the clock more and work becomes, well, work; boring, lifeless, endless, mindless work.
I believe in the importance of being self-motivated. I feel like the people who work hard and don’t complain live happier lives and have fewer regrets. I was listening to a woman on the bus today who yelled for ten blocks about how she hadn’t gotten this and that and how she is related to a lawyer who was going to help her sue some corporation and “get her money” which she clearly would not be willing to work for. So many people feel they should be given things. They feel they deserve to have a bag of money dropped in their lap. Those kinds of people will never be happy and they will complain until the day they die. Complaining is a powerful addiction. It can quickly become a way of life if nothing is done to correct it. I am not completely free from it yet, not many of us are.
4. Intrinsically rewarding
Although I do not believe this should be the focus of our job search, I do believe it is extremely important to enjoy work. A job that drains the life out of you is not just hard on you, it is often taken home. It can steal the joy out of relationships and cripple our sense of worth. In the book called Vocation by Douglas Schuurman, he says “the cobbler and the preacher are equally holy and equally valued by God if undertaken in faith.” No matter our vocation, we need to be aware that we are there for a reason and we need to be his missionaries wherever we are placed. In my own personal experience I was fortunate enough to get a job I enjoyed. I got that job when I was eight years old. Job title: driving range ball picker-upper kid. My older brother and I did this on summer nights at our local golf course. I loved the job because we got to use these golf ball grabbers that looked like a space gun from Star Wars. When no one was looking I would blast birds and blow up airplanes in the night sky. I’m sure my brother did the same behind my back. My pay: $8 a week and a powerade drink. Looking back it was probably a case of child slavery, but I could not have cared less. It was the most enjoyable job I ever had.
I strongly believe that this should not be what motivates us to do our job. We are not called to work for ourselves and pursue our own selfish gratification but to take on the attitude of a servant. Often the people most recognized for their actions are not the ones who sought recognition but earned it after years of dedicated service and faithfulness. In my last journal entry I wrote about what I think a model professional looks like. I believe a professional would have this at the bottom of their list as well. Those who are acknowledged often try to deflect praise to those around them. They are men and women who care far more about their fellow employees than winning a trophy.