I’ve been processing a lot lately…trying to really figure out what God has been teaching me in the last year and a half since I graduated college and moved to Columbia. So much has changed in so few months, and I never thought it possible that a period of time could be so very good and so tough at the same time. I’ve learned a lot, I know that for sure. For example: Marriage….oh my goodness, better than I could have imagined! Full-time bi-vocational ministry….harder than I ever would have thought.
But I am slowly learning that the tough stuff is good too. One great thing about my situation in life is that it has forced me to become much more disciplined than I used to be (I can’t believe I actually thought I was busy in college!). It has also made me more thankful I believe. But the toughest lessons I think have come from my 9-5 that pays the bills.
When I came to Columbia this was my mindset, “I know it will be a long time before I can actually work at Midtown, but at least I’ll be able to get a good job where I can help people at a non-profit or a charity or something like that. I’m a capable young college graduate after all–that won’t be too hard, right?”
Wrong. I interviewed for a few of those jobs, but nope. What was my first job, you might ask? A truck washer at Budget Truck Rental. I was making $1/hr less than I made weedeating in high school. My next best opportunity was a warehouse worker at a metal distributing company. I killed myself in a warehouse that was 130 degrees some days. After that I got a random opportunity to be an account manager at an insurance company. But I didn’t actually get the job. Someone else did. But they liked me so much they decided to hire me to be the receptionist for a few months until they could move me into the other position, so I decided to take it. I told people that I was “training to be an account manager” because I was embarrassed, which was technically true–but I was a receptionist. I answered the phone and I got called “Ma’am” at least eight times a day. That will do a number on your pride after a while…
And then during the month I was supposed to be promoted, I got laid off because business was down and they couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. I got laid off from being a receptionist! Then, to make things worse, I couldn’t find another job right off the bat, so I started waiting tables to buy some time. When I finally got another opportunity, it was to be an administrative assistant. And that’s where I am now.
Recap: truck washer…warehouse worker…receptionist…server…administrative assistant.
Meanwhile, my gorgeous wife who graduated with the same degree I did, has had 2 jobs: she has been a patient liason in the busiest ER in the state, working with the families of traumas and deaths; and she is now a ministry assistant at the Baptist Convention and gets to work with college students who go on mission trips all over the world.
I used to get frustrated about it, but now I just smile. God has used this past year and a half to absolutely crush me. He has freed me from pride and selfishness that I didn’t even know was there. Even the normal kind of male pride that you might not call a sin(the kind that doesn’t want to be a receptionist)…He’s crushed that too.
What have I learned? In a year full of jobs I wanted and didn’t get, disappointments, getting laid off and let down–God is enough. My satisfaction is in Him and not what I do for 40 hours a week to make money. I’ve learned to be thankful that I have a job, even if its something I don’t enjoy. I’ve learned that you can represent Jesus to people wherever you are at. I’ve learned to put my identity in Jesus and not in what I do. And slowly, ever so slowly–I’ve learned to be thankful that God has been painfully freeing me of pride and selfishness.
Sometimes I still get frustrated at times and ask God, “Why do I have to be a secretary?” He often has to remind me, “My will for you is more about who you are becoming than about what you are doing. And believe it or not, what you are doing right now is making you more like Me, freeing you from some pride and teaching you things I needed to teach you. Be content in Me.”
In fact, I bet He’ll have to remind me again tomorrow morning at work when I start gritting my teeth…