I had a breakthrough of sorts last week. I started to feel better about my life and the plans the Lord has for my life around the mid-point of Spring Break. I have had an issue with teaching for a long time, and I came to terms (finally) with the fact that there are aspects of teaching I love and aspects of teaching I loathe (isn't that the case with every job?) In truth, I don't think there has been a single job I have held throughout the course of my 30-40 years working where I said "I love this job!" No, most of the time, I would agree that I liked parts of the job, but not all of the job. I know I should be thankful for "the job" because frankly jobs are hard to come by and I am glad I have one (KWIM?) Still, I wonder if it is possible for me to have a job I love -- 100% love -- or if that is just a pipe dream and a wishful feeling.
I remember someone famous saying once that when you are doing your "dream job" then you will be happy. I don't remember the exact words but the message was that there was a job that would "fit" and once you experienced that "fit" then you would feel good, enjoy your work, experience satisfaction, etc. I know that for some people they have actually experienced that kind of job. My dad is such a person -- he still says that he loved his job as an Engineer -- and that every day of his 50 plus years working, he was happy. Now, that is not to say that he didn't have stress or pain or difficulty because he certainly did. I think he felt that he was doing a job that he enjoyed -- the actual work -- and that brought him great happiness and satisfaction in his life.
I tend to view this whole "dream job" in the same way. I don't think there is a perfect fit job out there, really I don't. What I think is that there are jobs that align with your personality or experience or skill and when you are in those kinds of jobs, you feel in control or satisfied. You experience happiness as a result of the work you do because the work you do aligns well with YOU.
I have struggled with fitting in to jobs. I have struggled with fitting into life. And, I think I have struggled most whenever I have chosen a job based on factors other than "good fit." Let me explain...
I had a boss once who told me that people stay in their job for three reasons:
- They like the position (the work, the tasks, etc.)
- They like the pay
- They like the people
He said that people will stay in the job so long as they have two of the three going for them (good pay and people, good position and pay, good position and people, etc.) However, if they find that they only like one of the reasons, then they will not stay in the job nor will they find job satisfaction. The key is to find a job that provides any combination of the two of these things.
I know that in my recent employment history, I have struggled to find all three things.
- GCU/ACU - I like the people
- CVS - I liked the position, the pay, and the people (most of them, but not all of them)
- UOPX - I liked the people and the pay
- Macy's - none
- Web Design - I liked the position
So here is my issue - in my present line of work, I struggle with liking the work. I am not paid enough to live on and while I do like the people (colleagues and students), the bigger issue is job satisfaction and wage. I like other things about the job of teaching, but mostly it is just the variable schedule and the fact that I get my holidays and summers off.
I am teaching college because it is something I always wanted to do. I wanted to try it out in order to see if I liked it. I have been teaching for two years, and while I like the flexibility the most, I do not enjoy the lesson prep or the low pay.
I have applied for other positions, positions that are more administrative with the hope that I could make more money and find more satisfying work. So far I have had no success in making it past the HR screener. This means that I am stuck in my role as teacher for a time -- that is -- until the Lord chooses to move me into a different position.
I can remember asking the Lord for permission to try teaching. I remember saying that I wanted people to see me as a Professor. I wanted to be "accomplished" in something, to finally have a career where I could be proud to say "I am a teacher" whenever I was asked "so what do you do?"
Vanity of vanities...
The Vanity of Life (Ecclesiastes 1)
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
3 What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
6 The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
8 All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.
I am guilty of the sin of pride. I admit it. I wanted a job whereby I could show the world two things:
- My achievement
- My education
Ever since I was a child, I have been told that I would never achieve anything of value nor was I smart or educated. I heard these remarks from my family, from my friends, and from my teachers. These two things, two statements were burned into my brain to such an extent that I believed they were true assessments about me. I set out to prove all those naysayers wrong, and as a result, I have finally arrived at the place where I can shout them down. I am a professor, and I have an advanced education.
But just like the words in Ecclesiastes, I have found that this path to prove the Negative-Nancy's in my life wrong, has not brought me any measure of joy, of pleasure, or of satisfaction. I admit that I have enjoyed my studies -- I love the intellectual challenge of studying at advanced levels -- but the satisfaction of achieving my goal of becoming a teacher/professor has not fulfilled me in any way, shape or form.
I can say that other work, other achievement has done that, but only occasionally. I enjoy solving problems, figuring out solutions, and learning new things. I like the challenge that comes from achieving personal results, personal goals. I don't like party-lines and politics nor do I like pleasing people (I do, but not to get ahead).
I was saying this to the Lord this morning..."Lord, why don't I have peace about this path?" I mean, I don't feel chaos or anything. I just don't have a settled peace and a feeling that everything is right, is good, is the way it should be. No, I don't really feel anything. Perhaps it is because I am overworked. Perhaps it is because I am struggling to figure out the details of what lays ahead. Perhaps it is because I am worried about the next couple months and how I am going to make ends meet?
Well...I may not have the answers today, but one thing is for sure...
The Lord has me well covered, and He knows the plans He has for my life. These plans are good, very good. Of this I am certain.
He is good, so very good. All the time, He is good.