I was talking about jobs with a man the other day. He said he had to work for 22 years in the same industry to finally get the position he had always wanted in that industry. We talked quite a about the privilege of doing what you love as a job/career.
My good buddy Josh Meares wrote a blog about doing what you are passionate about and lifestyles… You should really read it.
These are my thoughts from a trip I took last summer that made me think about my career…
I went to Durango, CO this weekend and had a great time. The weather was superb and the scenery was marvelous. Our family had a great time despite the $4.00+ per gallon gasoline… I try not to think about it. Something we did that was very cool was take a Humvee tour of some old mining ghost towns in the mountains near Silverton. I would highly recommend the trip if you are in the area. I could type for days about all we saw and did but I was involved in a conversation during that trip that made me really thankful for what I do.
The conversation started with two men, the tour guide and a fellow tourist, talking about their travels around the US and South America. One of them was from Houston, TX and the other was Vancouver, Canada, and both of them had very similar outlooks on life. These men have been all over North America and both have a passion for the outdoors. Mountain biking, hiking, skiing, among other activities were the center of conversation during the first part of the trip. I asked the man from Canada what he did that allowed him to travel so freely. His answer shocked me a little. This man, who was at most 45, said he was retired. He explained that he was in the financial management business and through a series of good investments and luck he was able to retire at a very early age. From Canada his plan was to travel all over the Americas to find a place he wanted to call home.
I asked the second man what he did and he explained that he worked for an outfitter who takes tourists all over SW Colorado on tours like this one. He lived with several other guys in a house because housing was so expensive. Also, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do for money in the off season because off season jobs were hard to come by. He was toying with the idea starting a camping business where he takes people backpacking in the wilderness.
Both of them were on a journey and neither of them knew where they wanted to go. Their stories sounded great to them. Then they went straight into a tirade on the ills of corporate life. The two spent a good 10 minutes on how corporations suck you in and steal your soul. They made some great observations and I could see why they didn’t like what they did in their “previous life.” I asked the second man how he knew about corporate life and his answer shocked me even more than the first. He stated that he was a lawyer and practiced in the area of insurance litigation. He was good at his job and making GREAT money but hated everything about his job. He was close to making partner when he “came to his senses” one day and quit. He sold everything, paid off all his debts and hit the road. Now he was living more like a frat-boy than a insurance litigator.
Congratulations were exchanged by both of them for not having any of the unnecessary baggage of life. Wife, kids, mortgage, etc… all of those things were basically death sentences to them. The rest of the trip was spent talking about future plans… er, uh not really plans but dreams about what and where each would like to experience. I was very intrigued by the whole exchange.
A couple of things struck me as I thought about this ride down the mountain.
First, I know very little about the corporate world. Before becoming a youth worker I was a teacher. While teaching is quite different from being a youth pastor it is nowhere near being part of the corporate grind. I did dabble a little in the corporate world in the summers while I was a teacher but I knew that the job was only temporary. Many of the parents I minister to are in the corporate world and they hate their jobs, but quite a few don’t hate their jobs. I have no idea what the corporate grind is like year after year, and I’m really glad I don’t.
Second, a wife and kids (and all that goes with that lifestyle) is not the end of the world. Some people may think it is, but it is not. I love my wife. I love my kids. I want to give them the best, though often I don’t. My family is a blessing and I cannot imagine my life any other way. If you think marriage is a ball-&-chain then don’t get married. I don’t begrudge those men for thinking how they did. In some ways I applaud them for avoiding the very thing they see as a trap. Too often people get married when they shouldn’t.
Third, I’m striving to have the outlook of Paul. I’m trying to be content in whatever situation I’m in. That’s hard for me because I’m not one for having deep roots or sticking with something for a long time like many folks in my generation. I see the problem these men have because of the sheer discontentment with life. Even in doing what they like to they do not really enjoy life. The word “blessed” in Psalm 1 (also translated as “happy”) carries the motif being content in all things. So, instead of attempting to find nirvana here on earth, my goal is to be content in all things and wait anxiously for the future hope I have in Christ.
Last and most importantly, I’m glad I have the job I have. I love it. I get paid to do what I love. I get to do adventurous activities with students who are trying to figure out life for themselves. I get to go camping, retreating, paintballing, mountain biking, etc… and that is my job. Sure there are aspects of it I do not enjoy. It can certainly be thankless at times. And as I was told by so many I will never make the money I “deserve.” (I don’t deserve any of it but people continue to tell me this…) But I love it and for that I’m very thankful. I wish that everyone had a job they loved as much as I love mine.
If I can give you some advice it is do what you love. If you can’t make money at it, find a job that gives you maximum time to do what you love. Also, strive to be content in whatever situation you are in. If you want to change your situation, that’s fine, but learn to be content. With those two things in your life it is hard to go wrong.
Do you do what you love? Or, do you work to do what you love?