Building on my last post about appreciation, I wanted to write a little about how I've grown in appreciation for things I didn't necessarily highly value at earlier points in my life.
Perhaps each one of us can look back and remember being told to do chores around the house and how much we loved to do them (not). I couldn't watch TV on Friday night or Saturday morning or attend any of the school holiday parties. I remember having to sit still in church as a preteen, taking notes and looking up scriptures while my school friends were out playing team sports and riding their bikes. I remember my first experiences on the job not exactly being the most exciting. I have heard over and over from friends a co-workers--and I might have uttered more than once myself--that we work to live and not the other way around.
Yet one of the main lessons I've learned in life is that anything worth having is worth working for. 'Work' here can probably mean anything we've put effort into or perhaps even struggled through. While I didn't like doing chores for my parents, I did find, upon moving to my own apartment, that I had certain expectations of cleanliness and kept my place fairly tidy. When I started working, a nice Sabbath rest and spiritual recharge proved to be a huge relief after a long week in the world's grasp..
And on my motivations in my career... Well, let's just say that it took more than a few years to get through my thick skull that hard labor was actually good for me. In those years, I annoyed my first manager quite a bit to the point he would drag me to a private room for one-on-one meetings. There, and in my annual reviews, he would tell me that I lacked "ownership," which to me was a nebulous managerial term meaning I needed to work nights and weekends for no additional pay. (I was never lacking for cynicism...) But in order to appease my manager and keep my job, I prayed to God that I might learn good work habits and become a profitable servant.
Over time, I switched teams and got handed several projects that I became the "expert" of. In other words, nobody else wanted it, it was new, or I brought it with me from my old team. My clients would need something quickly and I had to build it for them with timeliness and quality. Several of them would forward on their appreciation for my efforts. Then another issue might arise with a different project or I'd receive a new one, and the cycle would continue. This same cycle occurred on my first team, but now I was suddenly aware of what true "ownership" was; it was responsibility for something that I had invested a great deal of time and effort into and got a great deal of appreciation out of.
There's a word here that's very significant: 'invested'. The difference between cleaning my parents' home and my own was that I was invested in my place. That's not to lessen the wonderful lessons I was taught by doing chores as a kid. But when you search for a house or apartment, sign all the paperwork, move all your stuff, decorate, pay rent and utilities, lock up and protect your place, it's a whole different ballgame. When they're my projects, they were far more important to me.
Likewise, rather than just getting rest on some random day of the week, the Sabbath became a whole day to invest in God, just as the Bible says He has invested in me. I attend services with like-minded brethren and invest in them, too. And as we study, pray, fast, meditate, serve, encourage and edify, we are investing in the soon-coming Kingdom that Christ Jesus will set up shortly on this earth!
'Work' takes on a different meaning for me when I am invested. Rather than drudging from deadline to deadline, each job has meaning and there are important lessons that can be derived from most every activity. When invested, I take the role of a servant leader to my manager, minister, clients, co-workers, brethren, and even strangers in that I will volunteer to do whatever it takes to give them what they need to thrive. More accurately, God places us in a position and hands us expectations spelled out over the duration of our calling, baptism and conversion, similar to a business. It should be our privilege to serve in this way and take ownership for what we're invested in.