Remind Yourself the What, How, and Why Behind Your Work
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Late January through about February, I start to get cranky. I think, deep down, more of my less-than-savory attitude has to do with that restlessness we get when it's past the holiday season but still in the wintered trenches. When it’s still that whole Narnia, always-winter-never-Christmas season. And I don't only mean the weather, either. I mean the winter within—that feeling where it's time to bury my roots deep and consume the nourishment I need.
This is especially true when I think of my work. I work as a writer of books, as editor-in-chief of a community blog I founded, and as a homeschooling parent. Combined, these hours total more than a standard full-time job.
I love what I do. But this doesn't mean I don't grow weary and lose heart when the work continues day after day, with no real, tangible finish line. It seems especially true now, in this bleak mid-winter season.
When I feel a bit restless, a tad disheartened, and somewhat weary of the daily grind, I remind myself what, how, and why I do what I do. There's something truly helpful when I scribble out on paper, like a schoolgirl, the basics behind my work.
The What: I write out what it is I do, plain as day. In the thick of the crazy, it's not always easy to remember what it is I've been called to do, with the confusing voices calling out to do this thing, no this thing, or hey, how about this thing over here. I need a reminder that what I'm called to do can also be found in remembering what I'm not called to do.
I am a wife to this person. I am a mom to these three specific kids. I am a homeschooling parent. I write in this way in these types of books. I run this sort of blog in this particular niche.
Simply writing out these specific callings immediately recalibrates my focus when it's a bit blurry from the fog.
The How: There are as many ways to work in any given field as there are fields in which to toil. It helps me to think through how I work best, and to remind myself that, just because some guru prescribes a "Best Way" to work, doesn't mean it's best for me.
I'm a morning person, so I do my best writing in the early hours before the rest of the family rises. I work from home in order to enjoy the seamless overlap between the holistic parts of my life.
The Why: Once I remember the what, and the how, the why becomes more of a celebration of my work. The why serves to unite my particular callings as a beautiful expression of God's workmanship in my life.
I write because God has given me words to share, and I can't not express them. I blog because today's technology has provided a readily-available, nearly-free medium through which I can self-publish and hopefully, ultimately, encourage others.
When I rest my pen from this exercise, I feel lighter. I remember why I love what I do, and that even in the bleaker seasons, there are reasons to work deeply and to furrow deep my roots. Spring will come soon enough, and it'll be easier to remember the love for my tasks. But while I wait, I admit needing frequent reminders that God has called me to specific tasks, and that he'll meet me right where I need him most to make it happen.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What is your work? This might be harder to answer than it seems. Perhaps you can just as easily ask yourself, What ISN'T your work? How do you work best? Is your life set up to help you work best with how you're made? If not, what are some adjustments you can make? Why do you do your work? Does your answer light a fire within? If not, perhaps God is nudging you towards some time in prayer to find what does, in fact, light your fire.
PRAYER: God, thank you for my work. Thank you for the direction you've given me. Help me to remember you want me to be intentional with my time, my skills, and my passions, because they are gifts from you. I am grateful. May the work of my hands be a blessing to you. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Tsh Oxenreider is the main blogger behind The Art of Simple, a blog dedicated to the art and science of living simpler. Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler, and Organized Simplicity. Tsh also records a podcast called The Art of Simple Podcast, which during one week ranked second under NPR’s This American Life as most listened-to podcasts.Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a regular contributor at (in)courage, and is an A-List Expert with Real Simple magazine. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.
Feeling the Love at Work
This article appears as part of a series at The High Calling, called, Feeling the Love at Work. By work, we mean, wherever it is you find yourself in your days. The carpool lane. The church. The board room. The fast food fryer. The museum curator. The blogger. The nurse, teacher, doctor, lawyer. The stay-at-home dad. Some of us are finding our way toward our dream job, and others are wondering if our work really matters at all. What is it like to work in a job you love and, how might your work impact your affections in the other areas of life? Maybe you know someone who's asking these very same questions. If so, consider sharing these stories with them, via email, Facebook, Twitter, or through your other social media and friendship networks.