Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Contentment Where Least Expected

I asked a friend at church recently how he was enjoying his new job. I expected him to give me the typical response that it was going well, paying the bills, etc. But the way his face lit up as he told me how much he loved his work and how much pleasure and purpose it gave him interacting with his co-workers and the customers he served caught me a little off-guard.

I'm telling you, his job is not the kind that most people would jump up and down about. In fact, when my friend shows up to work each day beaming from ear to ear, his co-workers ask him, "What are you so happy about?" His reply: "I love this job!" Their reply: "Are you serious?"

It was refreshing to hear him respond so positively about a job where I doubt he's making much more than minimum wage. And yet, he believes in the organization he's working for and believes in the impact he can have on peoples' lives through carrying out his tasks with a positive attitude. And this makes all the difference.

He told me that he'd had a similar job years ago -- one that hadn't allowed him to save much, but that had provided for all his needs and had made him happy. But all that happiness changed when his girlfriend came to his house one day and happened to get a glimpse of his paycheck. "Is this all you make?" she asked. "I know a job where you can make a lot more than this."

Suddenly, the job he loved no longer appealed to him. And he went off to work for another employer, where he began making lots more money. Unfortunately, when he had that extra money, he didn't spend it in the wisest of ways and it led to one of the darkest periods in his life.

My friend reflected on how happy he is now because he knows that he is right where God wants him. His position might not be one that the world bestows importance upon, but he is making a difference right where he's at with his positive attitude and his love for people over power and wealth.

His words served as a reminder to me. A reminder that moving up in the world is not always moving up. What seems like a promotion may not really be one -- it depends on what's important to you.

What are we willing to sacrifice to move up in the world? Are we willing to sacrifice time for our families, time for our friends, time for God? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves?

It was funny because only a few days before I spoke with my friend, I had read this verse from 1 Timothy 6:6 -- "True religion with contentment is great wealth."

True religion is putting God and others above self, people above profits, self-sacrifice over self-serving. There is great contentment in that (though the world would have us think otherwise!), and on top of that if all of our physical needs are being met, that is all the wealth any of us should need. Thanks my friend for the reminder!

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