Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Work sucks – what’s new?
I hate my job. I hate getting up in the morning and I spend all week looking forward to Friday at 5:00 p.m. I’m miserable at work for a variety of uninteresting reasons, but because of the state of the job market, I’m more or less stuck where I’m at. After the latest in a string of events at work that didn’t go my way, a (very well intentioned) friend said, “Brian, God has a plan for your life.” God, if you’re listening right now, your plan sucks. Don’t get me wrong – my personal life is great. I have a fantastic family and friends and I thoroughly enjoy almost every minute I’m away from work. The exceptions usually involve cat puke, taking out the garbage, and explosive diaper situations.

The whole “plan for your life” thing has always bothered me. As Christians we’re led to understand that God only wants the best for us. Though sometimes we’ll suffer, but we really don’t know why (See an interesting post on this at Dry Bones Dance). What I’ve taken from this is that if work (or romance, church, family, etc.) sucks, it must be because we’re not following God’s plan.

Jay Voorhees (Only Wonder Understands) has an interesting discussion on this topic coming out of a discussion on salvation. I know I’ll probably butcher his point here, but he suggests that in a creation-centered theology (in contrast to a cross-centered theology) a loving and compassionate God woos us rebellious humans with the “intention for redemption and restoration.” Free will is necessary to allow us to choose God. The connection to the above discussion is that the existence of free will suggests that God doesn’t have every aspect of our life planned out. So the fact that I hate my job is my fault, not God’s.

To be serious for a moment, I don’t know what to do. Do I try to convince myself that I’m actually happy at work? Do I persevere knowing my current professional misery is part of God’s perfect design? Do I look for a job where I will be happy?

I was at some seminar or conference some time ago and someone (I have a great memory, don’t I?) said something to the effect of, “If you could be doing any job in the world, what would it be? And if it isn’t what you’re doing now, why aren’t you?” I think I disagree with the notion that there is one, perfect job out there for all of us. There are a lot of things that I think it would be fun and intellectually challenging to do. The problem is that what I’m doing now isn’t one of those things.

I think the Christian practice would be to pray for discernment about what God wants me to do. But to be honest, I have a tough time with discernment. I think that I let my desires overwhelm anything else. I also think that I have a tendency to believe that if I’m doing something I like then God must want me to do it, and if I’m not, then I must not be listening to God. How do we keep our deepest desires, needs, and fears from influencing “real” discernment.

Jimmy (I don’t know Jimmy, but I don’t know his last name either, otherwise I would use it) at In Search of Truth, Blue Cheese, and a Platform, makes an interesting proposal in regards to discernment. Basically, people within churches should be part of a covenant group committed to a process of helping the individuals within the group discern God’s will for their lives in respect to major commitments – like marriage, having children, etc. The idea is that in community, decisions are not simply a private affair. Also, the group process helps avoid the problem I mentioned above – that our inner desires might cloud our vision and obscure God’s plan (if God does have a plan). There’s a part of me that is attracted to the idea.

Here comes the inevitable “but.” But, there are a couple of things I wonder about. First, what guarantee is there really that a group will be any better at discerning God’s will than us as individuals? There are plenty of examples from history of group dynamics that were destructive and not interested in advancing God’s kingdom (Nazis, communists, religious cults, etc.). Second, if we are ultimately held responsible for our actions (ethically, legally, spiritually/religiously), might that obligate us to make our own decisions? Group input is nice, but the buck stops with me.

I also think that there is definitely a place for groups and community in the individual decision-making process. I’m just not sure where the line is. So, feel free to offer advice about my job situation. Will I follow it? Depends on whether I like it or not. =) (Just kidding!)



Post a Comment

<< Home