Friday, August 6, 2010

Adjusting Perspective

August marks 18 months since I left the workforce. Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about all the Lord has taught me during this time about priorities and purpose. Up until I left the field of Public Relations, I would categorize my life as one that was intensely focused on money. While I certainly was never one to dream about being a millionaire, thoughts of money pretty much dominated my life. I justified these thoughts by clouding them in a sense of fiscal responsibility toward my family. After all, in this economy a family needs two incomes just to survive, right?

As I felt the Lord prodding me to stay home for more than a year before I was laid off from my job, my first thought was how everything would get paid based solely on my husband’s salary, even though his income was more than enough once we subtracted out the weekly daycare payment. But, even more frightening than the money, was wondering if I would be truly satisfied with just being home with my two daughters. I had erroneously told myself for years that I was a better mother by working part-time. My logic was based on the premise that my work was something for me and the days I did not work were for my husband and daughters. Of course, I worked in a profession that was deadline oriented, which meant my laptop was always on even on my days off.

When I stopped working, the change in my daughters, who were two and four at the time was dramatic. While they have always been happy children, they sensed that I made a choice to be with them and that feeling of security turned their world around. Within a few weeks, my husband commented on how much happier and content the girls appeared to be, and how he was feeling more peace at work knowing that I was home with the girls every day, and would not be waiting for him to come through the door so I could login to check emails. I have come to realize that we really do not need the Lord to convince us of the benefit of staying home. We only need to observe our own children.

As the weeks turned into months, I began praying for the Lord to help me not begin submitting resumes because of a sense of diminishing self worth. For so long I had tied so much of who I was to what I did, and how much I got paid, that I was almost unable to see myself in any other terms. Then, something wonderful happened. The Lord provided opportunities for me to serve others. And this, I believe, is really the whole key to the abundant life that Jesus promised would be ours if our lives were lost in Him. All of our talents, abilities, and desires are God-given for the explicit purpose of serving Him and others. I often joke with former colleagues that the trick to performing meaningful work is to not get paid.

There is a great book by Max Lucado entitled, The Cure for the Common Life that addresses the issue of people’s discontentment in the work place. Lucado explains that most people from an early age realize they have an innate talent or ability, but many never pursue it because either they do not see a way they can make money from it, or they get promoted out of their sweet spot in life. The Bible is clear that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that the Lord even knows how many hairs are on our head (Matthew 10:30). His desire is to have each of us use the abilities He gave us in service to Him and others (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

I know what you’re thinking. What about making enough money to support our families? We have to pay the mortgage, buy food, make tuition payments, etc. The two ideas are really not as divorced from each other as you might think. The Lord promises in Matthew 6:33 that if “we seek His kingdom and righteousness first, all these things will be added unto us.” These “things” in this verse are in reference to the basics of life – shelter, food, clothes. And this really is the key. If the Lord is our focus, then we stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, don’t we? Having the biggest house or newest sports car takes a back seat to serving the Lord and ministering to others.

Randy Alcorn has written a brilliant book on this subject of serving and sacrificial giving called The Treasure Principle. Alcorn speaks about storing up eternal treasure in your life as opposed to earthly treasures that will fade away. But more than just storing up treasures for eternity, your life today - right now - can be changed if you choose to seek the Lord. If you have never come to know the Savior or the abundant life which He offers, it can be yours  this very moment. Romans 10:9-10 tells you how - “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

No comments: