I think both those of us who love our work and those of us who dislike our work share he same fear, that we are defined by our work. Im not an occupation psychologist but I would theorize that the two groups both have a different way of falling into this fear.
On the former group, we love what we do and we cannot imagine doing anything else. That is a line of thought that often gets twisted into, “I am good at what I do and I like being good at what I do, but what if it is all I am good at,” and even more so, “I can no longer do what I love in this context but and I worry it is all I can do.”
With the latter group, much of the same is true however this group believes, “I am defined what I do and I hate it therefore I hate part of who I am and how I am seen.” still the same is true that often this group is good at what they do and they fear that if they hate what they are good at, how can they possibly not but despise anything else.
Both, if you ask me, are terribly bleak options.
My dad has a great quote he has used for years that, “we are human beings, not human doings.” I have no idea if he borrowed it from some prolific author so forgive me for the misquote if it is indeed the case. Nonetheless there is great truth in the few words, we were created to bring glory to our creator by no other action than being.
We were created to give value and be valued by one another for no other reason than we, all in our own unique way, reflect our Creator.
The hard truth, that I admit I often struggle with, is that we seek our value, our worth, and our definition in what we do, not who we are created to be. Now I am a pastor, I feel it is a noble profession and I love what I get to do and who I get to interact with. However being a pastor does not exempt me from in falling into the belief that if I mess up a conversation, if a blow a sermon, if I don’t have a hi turnout to an event, if x, y, and z, don’t know as I intended, then I am not good at who I am… I am less glorifying than I could be.
I don’t know what you do or who you are but if you share the same performance driven self evaluating mindset, I would argue that it is wrong. We are created to be so much more than what we could ever do.
Moses and David were shepherds, Rahab was a prostitute, Josiah was just a kid, Peter was a fisherman,, Paul was a a tentmaker. They all did. They all had occupations. Yet each represents so much more in who they are.
Moses led Israel out of oppression
David was a great king
Rehab enabled Israel to receive their inheritance
Josiah led Gods pele back to him
Peter was the founder of the Christian church
Paul started the greatest missionary movement in history and authored almost half of the New Testament.
Let’s not forget that while Jesus was in his home town he was accused of being simply a carpenter and his father Joseph’s son.
Was Nelson Mandela just a lawyer, Martin Luther King Jr. Just a pastor, Mother Theresa just a nun? They may have been good or bad at their roles but that is not really relevant in retrospect, what matters is were they more than simply what they did?
Instead of asking, what should I do, how can I do that we must ask ourselves who am I called to be and how can I best be that?
When we limit who we are called our career choices, our resumes etc., we hinder Gods creativity in authoring who he called us to be. If who we are being syncs with who God called us to be, I have a feeling that what we are doing will be filled with greater joy, fulfillment and value than we can imagine.