Why do we work?

Our pastor has been preaching on work for the past couple weeks and it made me really think about the work I do and its purpose.

These days, it seems like TONS of people want to get something for doing nothing. They feel they should not have to work to get certain things but that everyone should be given those things equally.  I was taught something different from a very early age.

My parents always worked. They started a business when they were very young (when my mom was pregnant with me). By the time I was old enough to count money, I would stand on a chair and count money from the register with my Daddy. At 12, I started earning a paycheck and made $4.50 an hour. It wasn’t much. But it was my money- that I earned. For cleaning the parking lot, taking out the trash, filing invoices, cleaning the bathroom.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I was working an average of 35 hours a week (full time in the summers). Did I feel like my parents were forcing me to work and punishing me for something? NO! I liked to be able to make money to go to the movies, to buy clothes I wanted that were outside of the “back-to-school, Christmas, and birthday” quota that my parents bought. And by the time I was 14, I bought my first car.  A beautiful 1976 Camaro Convertible.  I bought it. Not my parents. They co-signed for it, paid for the insurance, but I made every payment on that car and every car I have had since then. My dad worked hard for 2 years to re-build it and I was proud of the investment I had put into MY first car.

Working for my parents, I learned the value of hard work, making money to provide for yourself, learning how to work with other people and customers. I learned how to be efficient and multi-task. I have told prospective employers in multiple job interviews that working for Timmy’s Grocery made me who I am. I still believe that today. And yes- there is a right way and a wrong way to roll a hotdog! 🙂

So I continued working- at Cracker Barrell, Applebee’s, the Yellow Jacket, and the R-MC Bookstore in College and on Lonestar, the School of Law and School of Education during my three years in law school. One thing that remained the same throughout all of those different jobs is that even if I didn’t want to do the work, was tired, needed to study, I did every task to the best of my ability, asked questions to learn how to do it better, and tried to help my co-workers in anyway possible.

After law school I started my own law firm and was building it to a very successful- but small- firm practicing family and criminal law in my home town. I often felt very blessed to be able to help children in my community, to protect them and be an advocate for them. But it was definitely a hard job seeing the types of abuse and neglect that I saw during that time.

After getting married and moving I closed down my practice and worked for a small firm, again handling family and criminal law.  During that that, I was not happy. I did not like the work I was doing. I left law practice and entered the insurance industry where I was able to use many of the skills and the education from my legal career to help me succeed.  Some of those skills I learned when I was in school working for my parents followed me as well- efficiency, multi-tasking, and helped me to find a balance in my job.

And that began a process of about 3 years of wondering whether I should or should not be practicing law. In the meantime, we had our son Macon. My husband has a very stressful job and I was trying to find something that wasn’t as demanding for myself- but in the legal field. I prayed to God asking him to help me find a legal job but just not in family or criminal law, where I didn’t have to work 60-70 hours a week but where I could make good money. (I wanted to have my cake and eat it too!).

I often felt like a failure for going to law school, becoming a licensed attorney and “giving it up.” I wondered what people would think about me for “wasting” that education and all that money.  I went on interviews. I was offered a job with a very well known Richmond law firm. But every time, something just didn’t feel right and I turned it down. I even looked for jobs in other industries- it was like I was trying to find greener grass. I decided I just needed to be happy with where I was. I knew if God wanted me to go somewhere else, He would show me. Or at least, that’s what I kept telling myself. But when I was up for promotions at work and wasn’t selected, I reverted back to wondering if that was God telling me to try for a legal career again.

On the way home from work one day I was in a really great mood. I do not remember why I felt that way, but I do remember smiling, looking up at the beautiful sunshine, heading to pick up my son from school and realizing that I was EXACTLY where God wanted me to be.  It was like God spoke out loud and said to me, “Misty, you make good money, you never work more than 40 hours a week, you have excellent benefits, you have a decent amount of flexibility, and you get to be Macon’s mom.”

I finally realized that it did not really matter what I did for a living if I was living my life for God.

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I have recently blogged about the “Armor of God” bible study by Priscilla Shirer about Paul’s teaching in Ephesians about the deceitful enemy, how he attacks us where we are weakest and most likely to crumble. That is exactly what happened to me. I believe his lies that I was a failure, not smart enough, that people would think less of me and so on that I forgot to look at all the blessings I had now even though I wasn’t practicing law. There are so many attorneys who have to work the craziest hours to make ends meet and had difficulty but I found a profession that I actually liked, learned something new everyday AND most of all, was able to be home with my son every evening and the weekends.  And isn’t raising him the most important work I am doing anyway?

In the sermon series I mentioned before, our pastor pointed out that God created man for work. God had already created the heavens and earth, the sky and sea, all the plants and animals, THEN he created man to have dominion over it and work the land and animals. When we do our work for God’s glory, no matter what it is, then it is sacred.

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So lately I have been trying to focus on going to work each day to earn a living to help provide for my family and our son’s future. To be a good steward of the intelligence and education that God blessed me with and with the money that we make as a family. To do the best I can in all of the work I do and be respectful of those I work with and for showing my integrity everyday. And being open and honest about my faith and love for Jesus whenever I have the opportunity.

And when I get home, I get to be a wife, a mother, a friend, and most importantly a child of God living for God’s purpose and mission, not my own.

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