I soon realised though that it consisted of little more than typing numbers into a computer system for eight hours each day, and then printing it all off and filing it. And all for little more than £6 an hour.
Now, don’t get me wrong – filing needs to be done and there are many people who enjoy administration with its rhythmical pace of work and the luxury of listening to the radio and making tea throughout the day. But, the thing is… well, I mean, I have a degree. A really good one, from a really good university. I speak six languages and play four instruments! It’s just, I shouldn’t be here. Surely?
As long as I’ve known Him, God has constantly told me to ‘dream big’, to trust Him with all those seemingly impossible hopes and aspirations I hold for my future. I know which sector I want to work in. In fact, I’m even fairly sure of the type of role and salary I should be aiming for, and yet since graduation I’ve constantly found myself back at the Jobcentre, too skilled for the jobs on offer and too inexperienced for the jobs I want. What went wrong? Did I not pray hard enough? Did I miss some divine signpost? Is all this just meant to ‘strengthen my character’?
For Christians and non-Christians alike, the lack of desirable work is a dilemma facing many of us, and it’s not fun. But honestly, when you left school, college or university, did anyone promise you that the job market would be fun? That you would walk into your chosen career straight away?
Consider this for a moment: imagine if you could claim to be the most creative mind ever known – the one who thought up atoms, photosynthesis, gravity, stars, hummingbirds and dinosaurs. Would you humble yourself to be taught, by your adopted father, how to saw a plank or join a table? How about if your CV was the most impressive document ever written – ‘CEO, The Universe. Responsible for creation, perfect judgement and ultimate redemption of the above’. Would you consent to being taught at the synagogue by mere mortals?
Living like Jesus is not about status, or dignity. Jesus worked in a regular, blue collar kind of job before he burst onto the scene with his public ministry at 30. But God did not become man because He wantedto make benches. God became man because He wanted us to believe Him when He says ‘I know where you’re coming from; I understand.’ Jesus the carpenter was able to build genuine, authentic relationships with fishermen and labourers because he knew what it was like to get up early, work all day and come home covered in sweat and blisters. What I see here is God saying: ‘I value all those things you look down on. There are no lengths I would not go to for love.’
Love is something we cultivate, not something we switch on and off. And what I’ve found, bizarrely, is that working a job you dislike can be a great way to become more loving. Probably above all, I’ve had to learn how to love God more. To love him for who he is and not just for the prayers he answers. To work out what Colossians 3:23 looks like in practice by trying and see Jesus as my boss and my work as an act of service.
I’ve had to make the effort to smile each day, to ask my colleagues how they are, to answer the phone politely, when all I actually want to do is bang my head against my keyboard and eat my desk plant through sheer boredom. It pays off, though. One of the best conversations I’ve ever had about God started with a simple question from my colleague: “So do you think people can actually have a second chance when it all goes tits up?” I’ll tell you one thing: my northern, working class, middle-aged male colleagues didn’t have the time of day for expounding predestination or redemptive theology. They just wanted to know if Jesus could be their mate or not.
So getting back to this myth – yes, God wants the best for you. He loves you more than you could ever know. But ask yourself – does He want the best only for you? You may not enjoy the job you are currently doing and the job market may suck at the moment, but perhaps in the midst of our discomfort God is working out His wonderful plan for all the people He loves. So let’s not be a generation of complainers. Let’s not be the ones who miss the opportunity to build relationships, shine as good workers and even introduce people to the joy of living as a disciple of Jesus, just because we thought the task was beneath us.