Don't expect too much from your job

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Having a job is great, but there are certain aspects you have to take into consideration when working that the Bible can help put into perspective.

When it comes to looking for a job, well the first thing I would say is, God bless you! It’s tough to go on a job hunt. So, may God give you the strength you need to endure the quest.

And as far as the topic of work goes, from the Bible we can learn that we were created to take on serious responsibilities and do well. The opening page of the Bible teaches that our fundamental mission in the world is to spread out over the planet and enjoy it.

That is a formidable task. It involves the building of cities and the establishment of an infinite number of skills such as in art, health care, education and agriculture. And from other parts of the Bible we discover that work is something that is meant to dignify the worker and those who benefit from his or her work.

This is not to say that human beings are mainly working or economic creatures. Karl Marx thought that and he was wrong there. However, work is very important to our personal and societal well-being. Obviously.

Anyway, a couple of stories. Maybe you will find them encouraging.

First, quite a long time ago I was a sales representative for a wholesale floral company. That meant that my clients were retailers – owners of flower shops or managers of produce and floral departments in larger stores.

I would come to the office on Monday morning and begin contacting my customers. Within a few hours I would have their orders for the day, and a few hours after that I would have the products assembled and inside a delivery van.

The rest of that day and all the next I would spend making deliveries to the clients. They were all in the near-north of the province, so, up in the Muskoka’s and so on. All together it was a two day cycle. Then during the next two days I would do it all over again.

Looking back on it, I miss it – and not just for the three day weekends. I miss the people, and I miss the natural scenery of Ontario’s cottage country.

At the time though, I found the work brutal. I especially recall entering the sales office for my first day. I was scared out of my wits. I had never sold anything in my life. I was friendly enough. But my people skills were nothing to write home about, and deep down I knew it. I feared instant rejection and with that, work failure.

The work, it turned out, required a great deal of patience with cranky clients. Some of them lacked an eagerness to pay for the product. So, there were collection issues that arose from time to time. And there was the shear energy level required to remain positive, to make my brain do things it had not done before, and to see that orders were accurately filled and delivered on schedule.

There were many times in the first months that I wanted to quit. There were other times when I felt that my employer expected too much of me and, to be honest, I was resentful about it.

I did though, learn some important lessons. I would not have learned them if I had not stuck it out. The first lesson – and I think this was a truly important one for me – is that you can genuinely surprise yourself with what you can do.

At some point in your life you may be able to look back on your first weeks or months in a new job and realize that you overcame incredible challenges. You discovered strengths you did not know you had.

Who knew that you could keep dozens of clothes racks at the local Walmart properly stocked? Who knew that you could repair a broken femur? Who knew that you could frame houses with the best of them? Who knew that you could handle yourself in a courtroom, on a car sales floor, or in the repair bay of a muffler shop. Who knew that you could wait on tables for 15 hours a week and still handle a full course load at Fanshawe? (More than 15 working hours when you are taking a full course load is probably not a good idea.) If you take on hard challenges it will stun you discover what you are capable of.

A second lesson is that I began to appreciate my parents. I had tended to look upon them as not very accomplished. They did not have what seemed to me exciting careers. My mom had part time jobs and spent most of her time raising me and my siblings. My dad was a construction worker who loved 12 hour days. As a teenager I would sometimes work alongside him. I could not keep up.

What I began to appreciate once I entered the working world myself was that my parents had taught me to work hard. They had also taught me to be very conscientious, maybe too much so. They encouraged me to see things from the point of view of my employers.

And really, that is pretty good. I mean, people as a rule should not over work. And we should be able to speak for our own interests as well as look to those of our employers. But being able to work hard and conscientiously is a fantastic asset, no matter what you do. So, I began to appreciate that my parents had bequeathed those things to me.

Of course we’re all a little different. If your parents were involved in your life, perhaps they gave you other skills or character qualities that will help you in your own work. Try to discover what they are. And if your parents were not much involved, you hopefully can discover some strengths they, or others, passed on to you.

All this is to say, when you do find a job, don’t show up expecting too much from it. Rather, expect something of yourself. Expect yourself to be at work on time. Try to see things from your employer’s point of view; how he sees you; what stresses he has that will be reduced if you work conscientiously; what extra things you can do in the office or on the job site that will lift the mood of others and help people work as a team.

Expect to be surprised at the amazing things you can do.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.