One of the best things I did last year was sign up to receive a daily quote from Goodreads. Not every quote means something (some are just ridiculous), but several months ago one of the quotes in my inbox caught my eye. These words, arranged just so, summed up my feeling about what I do–and reminded me anew–so much so that I dusted off my Photoshop skills and made the quote pretty. It now is tacked in the center of my cubicle and every time I see it, I somehow feel more grounded.
“Work is about a search for daily meaning, as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment instead of torpor; in short, for a sort of life instead of a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” – Studs Terkel
In other words, don’t settle. Don’t do the minimum. Don’t just get by. Make the most of the work day.
Isn’t it the best quote ever? I often tell new people who I meet that publishing rescued me from the life insurance industry. It’s not that my job in that industry was bad! I met a lot of amazing people, I learned the value of efficiency and multi-tasking, and I gained invaluable experience. I’m not sorry that I worked there. But this job is the job I never knew I always wanted and I don’t want to waste it.
There’s a balance, though. Always balance. Last year I hit a major slump creatively. I felt the weight of my workload, but it was more than that. I was working so hard to keep up and not let anyone down that I made my worth as a person equivalent with what I could or couldn’t get done by the end of each day. By Christmas break, I was exhausted in every way imaginable.
Then I heard one of the best sermons of my life. The pastor, Jonathan, was comparing the life of Saul to the life of David. Both kings of Israel, both placed in that position by God. But only David was a “man after God’s own heart.” In that particular passage, Saul was concerned with being a successful king while in later passages David was just concerned with being a faithful king.
The clarity that God gave me in that moment was so profound that it changed my whole approach to work. In that moment, I paused my furious note taking and thought to myself, “What if it’s not about being successful? What if it’s just about being faithful to do what I’m supposed to and leaving the rest in His hands?” Even now, I keep returning to that thought over and over. Faithfulness over success. That paradigm shift makes a huge difference in how I live my day – to the glory of God or to the glory of me.
This week at work, I already feel spent but it’s a good kind of tired. It’s the kind that knows I’m giving it my all, if imperfectly. SO imperfectly. Hey, just because I love my job does not mean that everything is always coming up roses – far from it. Sometimes I forget what I’ve learned and my weaknesses have a habit of following me into my meetings and to do list. But I’m grateful for the chance…for the choice, at least…each day to bypass the “Monday through Friday sort of dying” in favor of the “sort of life.” I’d take that any day of the week.
P.S. The entirety of that sermon is below, if you’re so inclined.