Make Your Job an Adventure: Part 2 of an Interview with Leigh McLeroy

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Author Leigh McLeroy has a passion for God and a keen eye for His presence in everyday life. Her career has taken her from marketing to mega-churches to nonprofit health care. At one point, she worked in a world-wide legal firm. These days she is a happily self-employed writer.

In her latest book, The Beautiful Ache, she talks about how to recognize a sense of dissatisfaction as a gift from God. During this two-part interview with, McLeroy shared stories about her work, her family, and difficult bosses.

<< Read Part 1 of this interview: Is This What I Was Made For?

Do you feel that God moves closer to you through your work?

I do now. I didn't for a long time.

Why not?

Maybe it's that performance thing. I always wanted to do a good job. I wanted to be well regarded. I wanted to feel like my employer was pleased with me. Sometimes I was striving so hard to be good and to do good, that I couldn't see good.

You know how you get your nose down and you don't notice much? Sometimes I need to remember what my dad told me when I was thirteen: I am really working for my audience of one. God.

Once that’s settled, I can look in the mirror and ask, "Is this good? Can I live with this? Am I proud of this?"

What is good about your work, specifically? What about work is worth celebrating?

First of all—relationships. Sometimes I get to work alongside people, and it's almost like making music. It's a blast. I get to see what God is doing in someone else's life, and that gives me energy and excitement.

The relationships that I form with people when I work are definitely worth celebrating.

Here's another thing. This may sound cheesy, but sometimes it just clicks. Sometimes I say something or write something that I know is better than me. It's a thrill.

Interesting. What does it look like when our work is better than we are?

Maybe in a difficult situation, a response will come out of me that is wiser than I am.

I'll have insight about how to address a certain person or problem. I'll manage a difficult situation with graciousness in a way that is healing and not divisive. I'll think, "Boy, I didn't really have it planned that way, but it sure did come off well."

Those moments are the Spirit of God alive in our work.

In one chapter, you invite your reader into adventure. And it struck me that we want our jobs to be an adventure too. How would you respond to someone who says, "My job doesn't feel like an adventure at all. It feels like the daily grind."

Adventure involves risk. So I would ask, "Is there anything at risk? Have you really gone beyond yourself at all? How safe are you playing it?"

I don't mean we should be thrill-seekers at work. Or adrenaline junkies.

But I shouldn't work only to protect myself. I could say to myself, "I just don't want to mess up. I don't want to get in trouble or botch this project or whatever." That's not very much fun.

Part of the sense of adventure that I get from my work has to do with how much I'm willing to risk in the process.

So what kinds of risks do you take at work?

Now that The Beautiful Ache has come out, I think a lot about how revealing it is. I could have written a much safer book, but I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much.

Whenever we try to really touch people, we're taking a risk.

On the other hand, taking risks is not without cost. Taking risks can set our lives in a direction that we never planned. Or it can close off avenues that we had planned to explore later on.

So how do you take risks when you are working for a tyrannical boss?

Man, that is so hard. I've worked under people in that category. For me, it is very important to be true to who I am in Christ—in as many situations as I can bring that truth into play.

I believe it is important not to let a superior shame me. At one point a boss said to me, "I'm older than you. When you have lived a little longer, you won't believe the way you believe now." One of my bosses actually said this to me.

And what did you tell him?

"Stick around."

He was my boss and he ordered my days and signed my check, so it would have been easy to say, "Oh, you're probably right." But everything in me was screaming, "You are so dead wrong."

That was just one tiny instance when I could bring who I was in Christ into the situation. I didn't argue. I was kind. But I was also honest, and I told him. Hide and watch, my friend. I think you're wrong.

I wasn't being disrespectful. I did my work for him, and I did it well. But there were moments when I was presented with the opportunity to either be who I was or cave in.

I sure hope that at most times throughout my career, I have been myself. The self I am in Christ.

Anything else you want to tell our readers to encourage them in their work?

Don't hide from the ache. That's the message of my book. We tend to move away from those places that are painful. Looking back on twenty years of work life, those painful places were also some of the richest places.

Our tendency is to hide or move away.

But perhaps those are the very places where we should press in and see what God has for us there.

<< Read Part 1 of this interview: Is This What I Was Made For?