Laboring to the Day

Everyone loves a holiday…at least if the amount of traffic on Southern California freeways is any indication. The opportunity to take off work, get away, and not worry about the concerns of everyday life, is a welcome occurrence. Of course, rarely does a holiday go as idyllic as we imagine it, but still, the chance to get away from it all is applauded.

Perhaps the “get away from it all dream” is most prominently demonstrated in the American mindset towards retirement. Just last week, I was talking with a recently graduated student who was already looking towards how he would spend retirement. Sure, dreaming and planning can be good things, but we have developed a culture that has an aversion to work. While many may blame the younger generations, it is an infection that crosses generational bounds; many boomers feel cheated that the recent economic recession will upend their plans for retirement.

While this predilection is understandable, I’m not sure its biblical. While the Old Testament certainly gives prominence to elders, there’s little indication that they ceased to actively manage their household affairs. And since their household affairs were their jobs, there seems to be little indication that they gave up gainful employment. Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David all appeared to work until the very end. Retirement only occurred when they went to their Father’s home.

I tend to think that their spiritual children should do the same. We are, after all, promised eternal rest. There’s no need for us to take a prolonged respite here on Earth, as we can look forward to a heavenly one. Additionally, Christ promises that, as we take on His burden and do His work, He will provide us rest here (Matthew 11:29). Sure, our work may not always be for a paycheck, but that doesn’t abdicate our responsibility to continue to work for Him.

Someone famously said, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” May every Christian do the same.

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Lessons in Leaving

As some of you know, today is a day of transition for me. I am leaving one career to start another and the flood of emotions that I’ve experienced is something that is foreign to me. I’m very blessed to love my job so in leaving there isn’t a feeling of release. Instead, I leave knowing that I leave something great for something that I also love and that I feel called to do. In that, I believe that this new adventure will also be characterized by greatness.

However, in leaving, there are many things that I’ve learned. As I’m accustomed to doing, I thought I’d share at least some of those lessons with you:

1. Everything you do creates an impression – even those moments that in your mind were fleeting anomalies. The reaction to frustration that seemed so necessary at the time rarely is, but its what people tend to remember. Respond in the way that you want people to remember you by. Let that which you want to characterize you guide your interactions.
2. People respond to departures in all sorts of way – laughter, denial, anger and sadness. Processing these varied emotions can be a challenge which is why its good to take account of not only your leaving but the entire time of your stay. A few days shouldn’t be the memory that sticks with you – look at things from the entire journey, and assess your time accordingly.
3. Just like we tend to improve our house when we’re getting ready to sell it, we tend to wait until someone leaves to let them know what they meant to us. This is silly. Next days aren’t guaranteed in any aspect of life. Let people know how they’ve contributed to your life immediately upon recognizing it. Then, regrets will be alien and appreciation abound.
4. People never believe that you will stay in touch when you move on. If you do so, you have a friend for life because they know that your relationship is no longer a matter of convenience but a choice of considered action. People want to know that you’re not leaving them even if your place of employment is different.
5. Loving what you do is a rare gift. Loving the people that you get to work with far rarer. I’m extremely blessed to have both be true.

To all those who I will no longer rightfully call “colleagues,” it is my sincere desire to always call you friends.

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