The Worst Job as a Test of Vocation
Day in day out, week in week out, year in year out ... you trudge off to this room crammed to the brim with bird's nests, flash cards, trilobites, pilgrim hats, Indian headresses, drawings and paintings in which the proportion of the head to the body is never right, but looks for all the world like an exhibit by demented Fauvists with no drawing skills whatsoever and a very garish color sense. Twice a day, everybody in this room is let out. Is it any wonder they run screaming into the sunshine?That's the life of a fifth-grader described by Gerard Van der Leun. He goes on to write,
And you have no veto whatsoever over your co-workers, your working conditions, your hours, or your choice of when to do what tasks. Everyone does the same tasks at the same time for 55 minutes and then it is on to something new.
Did I mention the fact that you can't quit?
And judgment. Oh, the judgment. Constantly tested. Constantly graded. Constantly up for criticism with your single allowable plea being, "Guilty. But with an explanation."
By the fifth grade, you've been in this dead end job for about seven years. If you're lucky, your pay has gone from a dollar to ten dollars a week. Get straight A's and you might get a bonus of one day at the local "Magic Kingdom." Then it's, "Okay, break's over. Everybody back on their heads."The German Reformer Martin Luther taught that everyone has a vocation in which he or she can serve God. A vocation is what you do between baptism and resurrection. For Luther, chosing to live into your God-given vocation was a choice between the two kingdoms—one of earth, the other the Kingdom of Heaven. This struggle is within each of us as a struggle between the old worldy self and the new godly self.
Your vocation is the setting in life in which you work out that struggle. Take the test case above of the worst of possible jobs, that of a fifth grader. I know that a fifth grader trapped in a job they can't quit with boring work and low pay can still honor God. And if a fifth grader can do it in their setting, how much more can we who have more choices about our vocations serve God wherever we find ourselves.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church