Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who You Are...

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. [Galatians 6v3-4/ the Message]

Uncertainty seems to be the constant experience these days. Everybody's story is a little different, but uncertainty seems to be the common thread. Work seems to be the headline story for uncertainty these days: will I get a job, will I get to keep my job, can I find a better paying job, can I find a job I like better?

Just having a job isn't enough anymore, though. We need a job to help provide for our family, but we also need our work to be fulfilling, to flow out of who we are, to contribute to a better world. A job helps pay the bills, but work is an extension of ourselves. When we can find a job that lets us work out of who we are, and through that we can care for our family and bless the world - well that's a true gift.

Since life is uncertain, it permeates our work. Everything is always changing. Just when we hit a groove, find our sweet spot, feel like work is going great, life changes. Change and uncertainty require, apparently, that we are always working to adjust ourselves to the new reality. We are prone to nostalgia, to predictability, to routine, to comfort. We remember the "good ol' days" and wince. Things seem so much more complicated now. Whatever.

The words of Saint Paul of Tarsus, written to his friends who had made the change from paganism to Christianity, still resonate today with us. Life had become very uncertain for these families and communities that had embraced the way of Christ. In their new way of life, they still had to find a job, still had to work to feed their kids and elders. But apparently even way back then, in the midst of the imposing Roman Empire, the challenge still resonated: work to bless.

It would seem then that people the world over, for centuries and centuries and centuries have had to adapt to uncertainty and change. The world is not getting worse, it has always been littered with tragedies and atrocities, heart-breaks and break-throughs. With the days that we have now, what kind of work will we do?

The challenge of Saint Paul resonates deeply with me. It's like the Spirit is stirring up uncertainty within, to prompt me to explore who I am these days. Not only that, but to carefully examine the work I have been doing, and the work that I am being given to do. These words are so pertinent to me when I am honest with myself: Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others.

I can sense a greater sense of freedom and possibility when I consider the challenge: ...take the responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your life. The work I am to do in the world flows out of the work I do within. The same Spirit that directed the heart of Jesus is the same Spirit at work within me and you. As I let the Spirit do his work, and as I hesitantly adapt my work accordingly, maybe some new kind of fruit will appear.

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