In a perfect world, what we do and who we are fall into a beautiful alignment. Even in our imperfect world, there are those who find this alignment…some for a season and a few for a lifetime.
My job title is “Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment Analyst.” Seeing my title, you might actually think that I am an analyst. But, you’d be mistaken. You see, in my heart, I am a teacher, an educator. A set of circumstances in the last year moved me into this position, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice to say, what I do is not in line with who I really am. I don’t love that, but it is what it is.
However, in my position as an analyst, I do have the freedom to teach a course each semester at our college. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment ‘owns’ me for eight hours a day, but before or after those eight hours, I am free to do as I wish. And, thanks to a wonderful English department chair and a constant need for adjunct instructors, I get to teach an evening course each semester.
Now, I could have taken an attitude of “all or nothing”—I want to be a teacher, or I want nothing to do with it. But if I did that, I would miss out on knowing the 18 wonderful students I have this semester, students whose lives I’m entering, with whom I’m sharing my life. I’m teaching them writing…and—hopefully!—a whole lot more. Since I need to work to support my family, I’ll take the analyst job and make the very best of it; since my soul burns to teach and be with students, I’ll take whatever teaching opportunity—large or small—that comes my way.
I have a feeling that this same disjunction happens in the life of faith. What we do and who we are spiritually often doesn’t line up either. So many followers of Jesus want to spend their lives in service to God…but there’s work at banks, firms, restaurants, etc. Many, I’m sure, would enjoy spending day after day losing themselves in Scripture, song, or prayer…would prefer to be far away in a distant land sharing the faith through friendships…would rather be constructing a house of worship or training young Christian leaders. But, what they do and who they are just don’t line up.
What to do? The same thing I do—take every opportunity large and small that comes along to live that life of faith. If there is a mission trip, jump on it! If there is a project in the community, latch onto it. If there is a chance to spend 20 minutes in Scripture, song, or prayer, enjoy those 20 minutes. If there is a short-term trip to a distant land, save your money and take the trip. If there is a mission team going to build a church or going to help train and encourage new Christian leaders, go for it! Don’t “wait for retirement.” And for goodness sakes, don’t take an attitude of “all or nothing.”
Yes, I wish that my work and my passion were better aligned, but they’re not…for now. Just another reminder that we live in a ‘broken world.’ But, I don’t have to let that ‘brokenness’ break me. I will do the work I have to do in order to be the provider I must be as a husband and father. But, I will also keep my eye on the dream…I’ll keep the passion alive…and work in that direction. And, every time I get a chance to take a step towards my true self, my passion, my faith, I’ll take it…and enjoy it…and make it count. We aren’t what we do—we are who we are…with the call and passions that God has placed in us.