Finding the Gift (it’s my birthday you see!)
By Steve Varney
I have always understood retirement would be a gift for having ‘lasted’ that long working, I deserved to have a rest and enjoy my free time. Having just hit that age of retirement at 65 (in fact today is that momentous day) and studying a book called LifeWork by Darrow L Miller, the last few months have had me reflecting on my life and where the job/work fits. Together with the effects of Covid over the last couple of years and how it has changed the way just about everyone on the planet lived, thought, worked and considered the future it’s amazing how focused your thinking becomes.
I’ve long understood that ‘retirement’ is a function of money and not age, so many people I know would retire in a heartbeat if they won Lotto, I’m sure it’s the same for many of your family and friends. Now however, a greater understanding of work has been shown to me and I’ve realized that it’s more than toiling away and feeling undervalued.
Let’s get something straight at the beginning, I’ve always begrudged working a job, with being a Christian I’ve always looked for that ‘purpose’ in life in order to contribute to the ‘faith’ and be appreciated by those righteous others. Trying to live up to other’s expectations and views of success has beaten down many men & women far more talented, hard-working and greater than I, so what hope was there for me?
As it turns out there has always been more than just hope, especially when looking at a different perspective on life, let alone work. I finally understand that work is GOOD, no matter what that work is when you do it to the best of your ability and with a joyous heart. Now look, I’m not saying there aren’t bad days as only the truly insane are always happy and laughing, it’s about joy and not just happiness as society understands it, knowing that what you are doing has real worth! Even when society doesn’t put a great deal of value on what you may be doing, there is a greater value in store that brings meaning to your actions.
This may sound a little trite coming from someone who has worked in the corporate world for the majority of their working life, but I have also worked a lot of other jobs considered ‘lower’ than many. Here’s a list of only a few jobs I have done in the past:
- Planting pine trees
- Concrete labourer
- Cleaning ship’s bilges
- Tow truck worker
Some of these I do not want to do again (cleaning out a ship’s bilge is not for the faint hearted!) and there are many I’m not sure I could physically do anymore! I understand what ‘hard graft’ is, but do not be fooled, the corporate world can be tough, just a different type of tough.
In the corporate world it’s very difficult to maintain your principles in order to get ahead and rise up that corporate ladder. Ethics and morals are essentially just words that mean very little when difficult decisions are being made that affect the profits and income of those in charge. Finding a corporate business that has a culture that maintains some semblance of ‘good’ is like finding that proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’. The best you can do is to maintain your own life principles and not get drawn into doing something that goes against this.
So what’s this got to do with your purpose and work being ‘worthwhile’ you say. Well it occurred to me that those who are happy in their work in the truest sense of happy, being joyous, are those that are working in or finding their GIFT which provides purpose in everything they do. Actually the book pointed it out quite clearly to me and I’ve realized that my Gifting is where I have worked for so long and still continue to do so, in that very same corporate world. My wonderful wife has pointed out to me for many years that I’m working where I need to be as it comes so easily and has always been so successful.
How’s that I hear you say? Since I started working I’ve always had the thought that I would act as if I owned the company and everything I did was a reflection of that. It meant I always tried my best at whatever task was set, regardless of how menial or important. It worked and I progressed and achieved promotions to the point of supervising and managing other staff. I found this just as easy to do, I never had to re-think decisions and almost everything I did worked well. There were times I found that success came with accusations of having the ‘best’ staff and therefore an advantage! On one particular occasion I ‘swapped’ out some of my supposed ‘best’ staff to my counterpart and he gave me his underperforming staff. Within days these very same staff were doing as well as everyone else, it helped prove a point at the time.
As I moved upwards and onwards I continued to have the same success, even when changing companies and industry. At this time I was not a ‘practicing christian’, I believed in God and knew Jesus was my Saviour but had no idea of quite how that all worked. So when I linked up with a community of people who turned out to be alive and filled with the Holy Spirit and lived by Kingdom principles and actions I was ready to learn more (than I could ever imagine as it turned out!). An important part of how they lived was to have practical study into a variety of areas, including work and business, which was something I had never heard of before. Christians being real and practical, who knew!?!
One particular study that many in the community undertook was called ‘Doing Business God’s Way’, written by Dennis Peacock. The plan was to study the book individually and come together as a group to discuss what we learned and understood from the teachings. As I read through this and started to really study it I found that everything I was reading I was already doing ‘naturally’ from the first day I started working. I’m not trying to be a smart-a%#e but while others found it extremely enlightening and ‘new’ thinking on how to work it was all ‘second-hand’ news to me.
When the group met to work through the study I found that I was definitely out of line and there were some who accused me of ‘faking it’ and that I couldn’t possibly know what was being taught. The problem was I actually did know and understand what was being taught! How could I possibly know all this when I wasn’t someone special and anointed? The truth is that at that time I had no idea how or why, I just knew the principles and had lived them for many years, it became impossible to be involved in the study group as the ‘mood’ toward me became quite adversarial, if not toxic.
So how could I possibly have known all these Kingdom principles without being schooled in these things? I now know it was because I had been working in my Gifting all these years! It’s this that made it so easy and produced the success I was able to achieve, Father takes our work and multiplies it beyond anything we could possibly see or imagine. It’s also what gave me the guiding principles I have used through my LifeWork;
I’ll treat you as an adult until you prove otherwise! It means that the responsibility is yours and I’ll help you to achieve far beyond what I’ve achieved if you take that opportunity. Many of my former staff have gone onto very successful careers and have let me know they learned much from me. (All credit and praise to Father!)
A man of Integrity expects to be believed, when he isn’t he allows the passage of time to prove him correct. Sometimes you have to accept that people including your boss sees things differently, you have to stand on your principles and wait.
Some of us are still looking for our purpose and the great things that God has in store for us to do, when the reality is we may well be doing it already! If you find joy in what you do, and it seems to come naturally to you, it’s likely that you are working in your Gifting. Don’t be put off by those righteous others who will tell you otherwise, that if you’re not a preacher or missionary you are not doing God’s work, all work is God’s work and he looks after the road sweeper or rubbish collector as much as the priest.
Hopefully, if and when, you read this it hasn’t taken you until you’re ready to retire to realise that being able to work at whatever job you have in the secular world is a Gift that is every bit as important as prophecy, teaching, evangelizing, missions and even preaching!
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Hey Steve, thanks so much for writing this piece. I am thrilled to get a glimpse into your world, and to hear that you were led to the place where you walk with Father, and use and enjoy your gifts together – and get paid for it as well! LOL It almost seems wrong, knowing that some people hate their jobs. But in my years, I have found that the closer I get to Father, and the more I yield to Him, the more I find myself enjoying the work that He leads me to do too. Thanks again. Cheers