This past Wednesday I celebrated 7 years on staff at NewSpring Church. I’ve said before that this is easily the best job I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine a better way to pour out my gifts, talents, and abilities than to do what I do right now. I love it.
Is it perfect? No. Nothing is perfect. There are challenges we have to work through all the time. As long as us imperfect humans are involved, nothing will ever be perfect. Even when the robots take over it won’t be perfect because people had to program those robots. But is it awesome? 100% yes.
The other day one of my coworkers asked the something akin to “Knowing what you know now, what would ‘now’ you say to ‘7 year ago’ you?” That’s a great question, It’s been kind of stuck like a thorn in my mind ever since. I have some thoughts. Here are just a few … a “completely incomplete list” … of things I wish I knew when I started.
Your job or title doesn’t matter as much as your calling
In my seven years I’ve gone from developer, to leader of developers, back to a developer, to almost a leader of developers, to solidly in developer land again. I’ve gotten raised up and lowered back down a number of times. It’s exhilarating to know that there is something I can contribute beyond writing lines of code and it’s disheartening when you’re told that part of who you are isn’t needed in that role anymore.
When you place all of your hope in a title or a job and that thing doesn’t pan out, what does that leave you with? After all, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12)
What I’ve come to realize is that regardless of what job I hold or what title I’m given, I have a calling and a purpose. My calling is to use technology to reach people for Jesus. I can fulfill that calling in thousands of different ways. When I tie my hopes to a certain job or title I end up disappointed or heartbroken. When I tie my hope to my calling and if I’m working inside that calling then every day is fulfilling, no matter what I’m doing.
There are very few emergencies.
People are the worst at making things seem urgent.
Just watch the news. Everything is bad everywhere and we’re all screwed. If you don’t do these 3 things today you might as well kiss it all goodbye. Good luck.
We are great at doing this in the tech realm too. “Feature A is broken and we need to fix it … now!” Notice the exclamation point. Everything has an exclamation point.
- “I need it!”
- “I can’t do my job without it!”
- “It’s the end of the world!”
- “You and your software sucks. Fix it!”
We get things thrown at us left and right. We’re told all the bad things about our software almost every day.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Take a breath. It’s almost never as bad as we make it out to be. Most of the things we call emergencies we make into emergencies ourselves or let other people make them into emergencies for us. We shouldn’t let other peoples emergencies become ours.
Put out the very best product you can. Work hard to make it better. Of course, fix the problems. But if you spend all of your time responding to all the “urgent” things that people say is wrong with your product you will never move your product forward and give it better value for the people who are currently screaming that “this line of text isn’t centered.”
Can your product be better? Yes. Is it an emergency? Take a step back and look at it twice. Chances are it’s not.
Rest is important
If you’re working in your calling and making things happen, chances are that you love your job and you have a hard time disconnecting from it. It can consume your every waking moment (and sometimes the non-waking ones too).
This is a good thing! You want to be greatly invested in what you’re doing.
But God gave us six days of work and one day to rest for a reason. He told his people to work the field for 6 years and in it’s 7th year to rest it … on purpose.
The magic happens when we rest. When you exercise you tear muscles and break them down. It’s only when you rest that your muscles heal and grow. We leech the nutrients out of the soil for 6 years and it’s in the 7th year that they return to normal. We work our fingers to the bone for 6 days a week and it’s only in the 7th day that we can find the peace and strength we need to go forward into the next 6 days.
At the end of 2019 I took a sabbatical. I was off work for 5 weeks and it truly was magical. I didn’t set an alarm clock. I slept until my body was rested. I read books I had been wanting to read but wasn’t making the time for. I started exercising and moving my body again. I read my Bible every day. I discovered newfound health in my spiritual and physical life. I spent time with God and renewed my commitment to my calling and confirmed that I was in the right place doing the right work.
None of that wouldn’t have happened if I had just kept trudging through and had not stepped back in a concerted effort to find rest. I knew my body needed it. I had no idea how much my soul needed it.
Please, whatever it looks like for you, find rest.
Don’t do it for the money
As a husband and dad, I want to provide for my family as best I can. I want to give them the best and make sure they have no need. I think this is a noble and honorable goal.
Here’s the thing though. If you work just for the money to fund the things that you think your family (or you) wants or needs, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are always more things to buy or more ways to spend it than you have money.
The result is that you’ll end up hating your job or moving from job to job constantly in search of the next pay raise. You’ll end up resenting yourself or your family because the search for more is endless and you can never find the end of everyone’s desires. You’ll keep seeking, but never finding.
There’s a better way. There is fulfillment in more than things. Stop chasing money and start chasing hearts.
By all means love your job but do it because you love it and it’s fun and challenging and growing. Do it because it helps you grow as a person and it has a positive impact on others. Show up because you know it’s something you are supposed to be doing.
Don’t do it for the money or the fame or the chicks or whatever. All those superficial things will go away and you’ll still be left with you and the positive or negative results of your work. When you work a job you love and that fulfills your purpose, that will overflow into everyone around you. Maybe your family dynamic changes because now Mom or Dad is happy when they come home from work. Perhaps they have time to spend with the kids instead of constantly rushing in search of what can only bring temporary happiness.
Do what you do because you love it, not for the paycheck it provides. You’ll be happier all around.
These seven years have gone by so fast. I’ve never been at a job this long but it feels like I’ve just gotten started. Seven might be the the number of completion in the Bible, but I’m nowhere near done. I’ve got more to do. I’ve got more to see God do. I’m definitely not done yet and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Let’s go!