The measure of your success up to you
By Darlene Warren
BIG SANDY, Texas--Today's world can be a stress-filled, backstabbing, power-grabbing place to exist--and that's just at church. During the work week it can be even worse. That's why it is so important to find a job you can live with and really enjoy.
If you really love what you do for work, you tend to tolerate more from your employer and fellow workers, and it doesn't (at least for me) have to be an exciting, spine-tingling, mind-draining occupation.
One of my first jobs was during spring break in high school. I knew someone who knew someone, and I managed to snag a job at Oaklawn Park Racetrack in Hot Springs, Ark. I was a hot walker.
Hots are the horses taken directly off the track, either after their morning workout or their afternoon race. My job was to walk them around the shed row until they cooled off.
It was strenuous work. A horse right off the track is more likely to walk you, not the other way around.
Jobs can teach you a lot. The magnitude of the old saying "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" was driven home to me at a young age. Now, you may think hot-walking is the lowest rung on the ladder, but it is an important job with a lot of responsibility. The owners of those horses have invested a lot of money in them, and they expect them to receive the best care possible. If they've "been rode hard and put up wet," they get sick, and you get in a lot of trouble.
I've never had a big executive, high-dollar job with a lot of glitz and glamour. I've never had to dress up to report to work (except for that summer I worked at McDonald's). I've never had a job with a profit-sharing plan. I worked for Ambassador College. For 14 years I was on the front lines "doing the work." I folded jockstraps for the faculty basketball team.
Remember the college-recruitment meetings that took place during the Feast of Tabernacles every year? Usually employees of the college were invited to attend to mingle and answer questions from people who were interested in becoming students.
One year at that particular scheduled meeting, I introduced myself to a lady and we began to exchange the typical small talk about family, where we lived, what we did for work.
The woman was so excited to learn that I worked at Ambassador College that her whole face lit up. She immediately became friendlier and more animated.
As I filled in the details of my employment, however, she quickly became disenchanted to discover that I wasn't a teacher or administrator and moved on in search of someone with more clout.
Little did she know that you can't have much more clout than when you're working with someone's jock strap. One miscalculation of detergent and I could've made grown men cry.
Through the years I learned to live with the disdain that people displayed when they learned that my whole career revolved around filth and bacteria-growing surfaces. I adjusted to the shunning, but did they really think I was carrying some transmittable strain of mutating microorganisms?
They had nothing to fear. Surely my employer wouldn't take chances with my health. I was part of a special people chosen to do God's work. The college made sure I followed health regulations to protect it and me. I wore a pair of rubber gloves.
In spite of my lack of prestige, I felt like I had the best job on campus. Not many people ventured into the laundry building. I was mostly left alone in my little corner to do my job. Alone, that is, except for the students who were hired to help me.
Being placed in Linen Services was a hard pill to swallow for most of the students who were sent in my direction. To beat the bad rap we constantly received, we had to find ways to make the job enjoyable. We held contests to determine the fastest jock-folder in the department. Now that Ambassador has closed, I guess my record will forever stand.
Every woman's dream
Where do you go after you've had the perfect job? What job could possibly give you the satisfaction you once enjoyed?
Traffic-flagging, of course. (My husband and I operated a family-owned tree service and were awarded a state contract to remove dead trees from the side of the highway.) Now, that's a job with responsibility and a dress code: hard hats, fluorescent-orange vests and flags to twirl--every woman's dream.
I don't know why, but women don't seem to have the same ambition for power that men do. I will confess, though, there's nothing quite like the rush that comes from stepping in front of an 18- wheeler driven by a big, burly truck driver and making him remain stopped in front of me for several minutes. It's a real power trip. It's almost like being the head of your own church.
But you can't take it too far. The insistent revving of an 18-wheeler's engine can be pretty intimidating. The lesson I learned from this job is that if you wave a big enough flag you don't need to toot your own horn.
How you feel is important
Don't be concerned about what other people think about how you earn a living. What's important is how the job makes you feel. If you enjoy what you do, and it isn't illegal or unethical, no one should make you feel like less of a person. Only you can determine how successful you really are.
Through everything, I've never lost touch with the common man. To this day, when I meet a man dressed in a suit and tie, or a woman carrying a briefcase, I always take the time to offer encouragement.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God