Tag Archive: work

Working With Passion

This is where talent and passion can get you.

Last week, in my post about how modern society hates silence, I briefly mentioned the assumption that, after a hard day’s work, we need mindless activities to distract ourselves from work.  I said that was a subject for another post; well, here it is!

At the beginning of 2010, a survey revealed that only 45% of workers are satisfied with their jobs (I know this was over a year and a half ago, but I do not believe things have changed significantly since then).  That means that 55% of the workers surveyed were dissatisfied with their work.  That’s tens of millions of people in the United States alone!  If work is an important part of who we are – and in the U.S., at least, we tend to define ourselves by our work – is it any wonder that the overall mood is is so pessimistic lately?

A year ago, I was in that 55%.  I was just finishing up an internship which was an exercise in frustration, and unbeknownst to me I was in for an entire semester of more of the same.  So, from June until about Christmas, I felt like I was in a cave, pushing against a huge solid boulder that refused to budge.  Sometime during that time, I promised myself this: I was going to finish my master’s degree as soon as possible, get a job that didn’t require too much thinking (or, more importantly, programming), and get myself out of the research field as soon as I could.  I was burned out, discouraged, and had no hope of the situation improving.  When I wasn’t at work, I was doing everything I could to take my mind off of it.

Now, things are very different.  I’m getting results.  I’m much better at programming.  My thesis topic changed fairly significantly and I find this one much more interesting.  During idle time, I find myself pondering obstacles I will encounter in whatever analysis I’m doing and coming up with solutions.  The result?  I’m no longer dead set on leaving grad school; in fact, I’m seriously considering going for the Ph.D.  Once again, I am passionate about atmospheric science.

That passion makes all the difference, I think.  Passion is what causes the scientist to ask and answer deep, complex questions about the world around them.  Passion is what drives my dad, a tax preparer who works 80+ hour weeks during tax season, to go to work before dawn six days a week for three months and still do taxes for friends and family on his (very limited) time off.  Passion is what drives someone like Michael Phelps to not just swim for fun, but to train with an intensity very few of us can comprehend in order to be, quite literally, the best in the world at what he does.

Humans are created to be passionate.  Think about it – how easy is it to be passionate about a sports team, a relationship/person, a belief system, a video game?  Work is just as much a part of our lives as  a close relationship or a favorite hobby.  It might be harder to be passionate about our work – particularly if the job is not that exciting or fulfilling – but that does not make it any less necessary.  Whatever job you are doing, you have control over whether it is a lousy job or a fun and rewarding one (I only wish I had understood this more when I worked in fast food).  It’s your choice; are you going to be in the 55% or the 45%?


Cultural Christian VS Biblical Christian

“A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ without forsaking the world” – A.W. Tozer

Every Sunday night I have the opportunity to sit down and fellowship with my awesome youth group. I always look forward to this time together because we share our stories from the past week, talk about challenges or obstacles we may be facing, and also read and discuss stories in the bible. Lately, only my youth group leader and I have been meeting on Sunday nights. These past few weeks he has given me the challenge to read more of my bible. With the combination of work, summer school, and other personal obligations, you will find me buried in my microbiology book more than my bible!

This past Sunday night, my youth group leader Paul and I met together. He asked me how my daily reading of the Word has been going and I explained to him my busy schedule, at least what I thought was a busy schedule. Paul understood my circumstances with school and work, but he also wanted to teach me a valuable lesson, the importance of reading the Word and my relationship with God.

As a relatively new Christian, until Paul and I talked, I failed to realize how crucial the Word is to my personal growth. Even though life can be busy, I need to remember who I put first. In the heat of school, work, and life, I need to remember my relationship with God. He is the one who can give me the strength, courage, and hope that I need to make it through my day.  Recently, I have found myself pursuing a relationship with God that I want. In the book, The Man in the Mirror, the author Patrick Morley describes this idea as Cultural Christianity VS Biblical Christianity.

Here is his definition of  Cultural Christianity:

Cultural Christianity means to pursue the God we want instead of the God who is. It is the tendency to be shallow in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils us and lets us have our own way. It is sensing a need for God, but on our own terms. It is wanting the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him, too. It is God relative instead of God absolute.  

Even though I have been busy these past few weeks, I still need to set time aside to read the Word and be with God. Who is number one in your life? Do you see yourself as a Cultural Christian, pursuing the God you want, or do you see yourself as a Biblical Christian, pursuing the God who is? Take a look at the sower parable. Morley describes four groups of “Christians” that exists in today’s society:

Group 1 – The Non-Christian:  Those along the path are the ones who heat, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved (Luke 8:12).

Group 2 – The Cultural Christian: Type “C”: Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (Luke 8:13).

Group 3 – The Cultural Christian: Type “D”: The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature (Luke 8:14).

Group 4 – The Biblical Christian: But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:15).

Can you identify yourself within one of the four groups listed above? Maybe after reading you realized that you are more of a Cultural Christian than a Biblical Christian. If so, Morley shares a few ideas that can help you seek a Biblical Christian lifestyle. To begin, examine the influences you expose yourself to (friends, music, movies, books, internet) Look at your set of values, are they biblical or cultural. In the end, be patient with yourself, pray about your struggles with God, and remember, “The man in the mirror will never change until he is willing to see himself as he really is, and to commit to know God as He really is.”

Stories of Encouragement

Last semester Bethany and I joined a small group through our church on campus.  Through that small group we met an older couple named Barb and Dave.  They learned we lived in Peoria and asked us if we would be willing to take a package to one of their old friends, a retired missionary woman.  This past weekend I was able to complete the delivery.

Gertrude is almost 90  years old, but by the way she talks and walks you wouldn’t think she is over 40!  She spent 37 years in South Africa as a missionary and has even written a book titled Africa Treks: Stories of Victory from the African Bush.  The book contains encouraging stories of victories for the kingdom.  I went to deliver the package prepared to spend some time getting to know her, and I’m glad I did!  She first invited me to see the nursing home she lives in.  The first thing she showed me was a quote on the wall which read “Blessed is this place because it is called home.”  She read it to me with strong conviction and to her it meant that even though she was in a nursing home, she had God and other people; she was home.  What an encouragement that Gertrude could be home in a place where others are lost and that all she needs is to be with God.  She can be home anywhere on Earth.

Next, she showed me her room and we talked for a while.  She had so many stories to share!  She talked of her experiences in Africa.  She related her experiences as a  younger girl in Intervarsity at the University of Illinois.  She shared about her current prison ministries.  She told stories about various people around Illinois that she knew.  All of these stories shared a common theme – Christians succeeding in kingdom work.  In the middle of these stories she paused and taught me this lesson: it is so wonderful to hear stories about God’s work in this world, you need to share joy with other Christians and to rejoice together in what God has done.  Gertrude was leading by example in the joy department.  She is one of the happiest people I have ever met, especially for things concerning the Lord and His work.  I pray that I would have her joy in my walk.  I wonder what the church would be like if we could rejoice together in the work that God is doing more often.  If we could share in joy over those being saved and their progress around us.  Are people being saved around us?

I have been learning that everyone and every place has a story.  These stories are worth knowing!  I took the time to learn part of an old missionary woman’s story, and I was so encouraged and blessed by it!  When you meet someone new, ask them their story and be able to share your own.  What is the story of the town you live in or of your family?  Could you write it down?  If you are a leader, can you write your organization’s story. Where you have been will shape where you are going.  Take some time to “look down the mountain” alongside your followers.  Share your stories of encouragement more often.  We all love to get encouraging news from our friends about their current projects, dreams, and work.  So be sources of encouragement for one another.