Work. We all have to do it in one realm or another. Whether it is inside or outside the home, we all face struggles sometimes with the things we do for a living. Every “job” has its ups, downs and cycles of frustration. It is the nature of work. Sometimes it is fulfilling and sometimes it can be draining. Regardless, we spend more time at work than we do anywhere else in our lives. It is important to always be willing to evaluate why we do what we do and the places we do it. This doesn’t just apply to our professional organizations but our personal, spiritual and familial ones as well.
It is interesting to consider the point that you can love what you do and not love the person or organization you do it for OR you can hate what you do and love the person or organization for which you toil. You can also have great passion for an organization or job, secular or spiritual, but that doesn’t guarantee it is what you are called to do. I am a firm believer that our true calling in life can be manifested in many ways over the course of our journey. I have fulfilled aspects of my own calling through different organizations and situations over the years. Sometimes we have to find ways to still honor our calling even when we are in situations where it seems unlikely it might fit. We do whatever is necessary in order to continue moving forward. Over the years, I have worked for people I admired greatly. I have worked for companies and organizations I loved. I have worked for people who are appreciative and I’ve worked for people who aren’t. I have worked for small organizations that were wonderful and some that weren’t. I have worked for a large organization and had pockets of amazing experiences with some amazing people. I have also had pockets of experiences that seemed to drain the life from me but, even in those times, there was something positive to be gleaned. One of the greatest blessings I gained in the seemingly negative times was to recognize the things I vowed to never do to the people that I worked with, for or who worked for me.
Passion can drive us to do amazing things in our homes, jobs, churches and families if we will allow it. The struggle I sometimes face is caring deeply about a cause or organization and then see others trying to tear those things down. It wounds me. It literally hurts my heart to see other people half-heartedly approaching the things that mean so much to me or engaging in activities that are detrimental to the well-being and success of those things. When we find ourselves in these places, we cannot help but question where we are and what we are doing. It’s easy to look at others and be angry when they don’t share the same values or passions as you but it is much harder to not let it deter you from your efforts to make a difference. You can try your best to create something different, to engage people differently and to keep them energized, but you cannot force them. So if you are giving everything you have and you still find yourself faced with a negative or unsupportive environment, what do you do? To complicate matters further, if it’s not your calling, how do you handle it?
Sometimes it is so hard to know what God is working in our lives. When you feel your spirit crushed by the situations you’re in, no matter if it is intentional or not, it hurts. Sometimes the crushing can be a great clarifier but sometimes all it does is injure. Passion is a beautiful and necessary part of truly living but it doesn’t guarantee it will not cause us pain. Having passion about what you are called to do and having to wait for those doors to open is a difficult part of life but there is a reason you are where you are at this moment in time.
Just remember you may be placed in the midst of people who rarely, if ever, show any appreciation for you even if they do feel it. Some people (or even organizations) seem to think that “no news is good news” and, as a result, only speak up when things are wrong because they assume you somehow just inherently know you are valued or make a difference. Even though it may cause you pain and even create a sensation you are worthless at times, it is important to try and let it go. Holding on to a lack of appreciation will only cause you to become bitter, sad or resentful. Don’t let someone else’s inability to show gratitude keep you from expressing yours.
The passion I have for the organizations I am involved in runs deeper than anyone in those organizations can imagine. That fact often makes for a difficult and challenging life but the alternative does not appeal to me. The reality is if you go through life passionless and numb, it certainly does take the sting out. If you can say, “My job doesn’t matter” or “My church doesn’t matter” then it doesn’t. If you can say, “My family doesn’t matter,” then it doesn’t. There is a certain amount of anesthetic and pain relief that comes with that but it also dulls everything else in life. I struggle with just throwing my hands up and saying “I’m done” when I become drained. I believe life is about truth and passion. I can handle anything but a liar. And I can take anything but apathy.
James described it best when he said, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14). Life really is shorter than we like to think. As James says, it is like walking outside on a cold morning and seeing your breath as it appears for a few moments and then dissipates. Why waste the time we have been given each day by living passionless lives? We need to stop settling for the mundane and expect the extraordinary! If the people around us refuse to step out of their complacency, negativity or sense of entitlement, then we need to refuse to step out of our passion, optimism and sense of gratitude. And if there is no bridge that can be built between the two, then we need to have the strength and courage to step away and follow where we are led.