It has been over a month since I have written anything. And yes, my usual party line remains: it’s not for lack of topics. I continue to be caught in this tension: the more that I process, the less that I say. I suppose this is for a myriad of reasons—not the least of which is that I am not (yet) independently wealthy and thus I am hyper-conscious about anything I share in a public forum. Not that my unfiltered voice would be so problematic that it would ever preclude me from an opportunity—heaven forbid! I’m too straight-laced for that ever to be a likely outcome (*wink*). I guess I’m just…well…patently deliberate.
(end of ramble)
Based on my last entry (and some of the preceding entries), it is easy to surmise that I continue to give a lot of thought to my purpose, my profession, my passion, and my calling. It is a major focus—consciously and subconsciously. And it occupies a significant amount of mindshare—productively and unproductively.
In the last few days, I came across two key messages that provided conviction, correction, and renewed focus. I offer them below:
Maxwell talks about the word ambition. He says that in his early years he was “goal-conscious”; he was always focused on his goals. As he matured, he realized that he needed to be “growth-conscious.” In other words, if he only focused on his goals, he would hit them and, subsequently, he would flatten out. However, if he focused on growth, he would never hit it; he would always be stretched.
I identified with this truth. Heretofore, I have been unabashedly goal-oriented; I wear it as a badge of honor: I focus on results, I am performance-oriented, and I Get. Things. Done. Period. All good, right? John’s definition of ambition and his focus on “growth” vs. “goals” encouraged me to think otherwise. Then, there was the next message…
TGIF: Our Work versus Our Value (Os Hillman)
I receive and read a daily email devotional. It offers reflections on faith, work, and applying biblical principles in the realm of leadership and business. This particular devotion, shared on July 6th, hit me like a ton of bricks because it was talking all about me:
Our Work Versus Our Value
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
Man was created to have seven basic needs. Each of us has a need for dignity, authority, blessing and provision, security, purpose and meaning, freedom and boundary, intimate love and companionship. When we go outside God’s provision to meet these needs, we get into trouble.
Every man has a need to work and gain satisfaction in caring and seeing something come from his efforts. Many of our basic needs are derived from our work; it was one of the first acts God did for man in the Garden of Eden. He gave him responsibility to care for and work the Garden. God knew man needed to be productive. He needed to gain satisfaction from his work.
The danger of this is when we allow our work to be our complete source of purpose and meaning in life. This leads to a performance-based life. A performance-based life says, “As long as I perform in my work, I am acceptable to myself and others.” This is a subtle trap for all of us. It can lead us to become workaholics if we are seeking acceptance through what we do. Sometimes this can be on a subconscious basis.
Our value must be centered in God, not in what we do. If we lose our job or our business, this should not devastate us if we are centered in Him. It will certainly create difficulties, but God is the orchestrator of all the events in our lives for His purposes. Even difficult times have purposes.
Today, ask if you have a proper balance in your work life. Is God the central focus? If you work long hours, ask yourself why. You might discover that God may not be the central focus.
No matter your religious beliefs, I think there are relevant principles in the above message that are applicable to every professional; namely the admonishment to not wrap your identity into your job—something that can be here today and gone tomorrow.
As I continue to reflect on and reconnect with my purpose and passion, I am now challenged to think beyond a 9-5; I am challenged, once again, to see myself beyond just my education and vocation; I am challenged to re-think my definition of ambition, the role of growth vs. goals, and the larger purpose for it all.