Out of Office: Invigorating Work for the Cubicly Impaired

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Marty Hadding leaves square

At 24, my workspace shrunk on me. I had only graduated two years before and was just settling into a career as a public school teacher when the walls closed in, like they do in Star Wars when the good guys (and Leia and Chewie, too) face the trash compactor. Not the best analogy for education, but that closing-in part? And the sense-of-urgency part? Spot on.

Recently married, lugging four years of college loans, and heading for tenure…how could I risk leaving then?

Three factors clarified the decision. First, I knew that whatever happened, I needed to teach (Identifying this vocational building block provided more peace than I could have guessed). Second, my “classroom” had to expand. Third, my wife held the perfect job, and all I had to do was take it. So I did—with her permission, of course. I became a campus minister and, with students by my side, built an outdoor adventure program.

I’ve been happy ever since.

The Young Professionals channel finished a series last week on using our jobs to bring order out of chaos in others’ lives. But what about the chaos in our own? Can specific jobs free us; stop the walls from closing in? What does out-of-office work do for the person stuck in Cubicleville?

At work but out-of-office

In October, we’ll hear from a cartographer and an environmental scientist. We'll learn about what they do for a living, but also about how their careers feed their souls. Both of them log office hours, work with other employees, favor certain projects, and want to call in sick every once in a while. Just like the rest of us.

But ask Dave Brotherton about wetlands, and you’ll want to get dirty in a pair of waders. Start talking with James Whitacre about maps and he’ll have you thinking about life direction.

When God invited us to cultivate and take care of the earth (Genesis 2:15), it meant more than growing a vegetable garden. And it meant less than squeezing nature out of civilization altogether. If you’re suffering from a bout of nature-deficit disorder (NDD), take a hike this weekend. Or go bigger and test-drive one of these jobs for a season.

If you’ve got NDD really bad? It might be worth exploring a whole new track now before it’s too late, maybe even from a list like this, where “hard-working men and women…earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.”

See you next week.

Other out-of-office articles:

Image by Marty Hadding. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Sam Van Eman, Young Professionals editor and narrator of A Beautiful Trench It Was.